NBC announced its fall schedule yesterday and there was good news for fans of quality drama: Rookie series "I'll Fly Away" and "Reasonable Doubts" were renewed. There was good news for fans of Norman Lear: His political satire "The Powers That Be" won a spot.
But there was bad news, too: The sleaziest reality show yet, "I Witness Video," which features amateur videos of real-life murders and beatings, is going to be on every Sunday night at 9 come fall.
Overall, demographics will be the name of the game at NBC next year. And the two demographic groups NBC is targeting with eight new series featuring stars such as Malcolm-Jamal Warner and Paul Reiser are African-Americans and young viewers.
"We set some very specific goals: Continue the successful transition from households to demographic focus, reinvigorate our comedy lineup and provide an overall diverse programming slate," said Warren Littlefield, president of NBC Entertainment. "We are confident that this schedule clearly satisfies our objectives."
In other words, NBC will not try to reclaim the overall ratings lead that it held through the 1980s but lost to CBS this year. Instead of trying to attract a large general audience (which would give high overall ratings) this fall NBC is specifically targeting those viewers most desired by advertisers: 18- to 49-year-olds.
As previously reported, NBC canceled "Matlock" and "In the Heat of the Night" because they attracted older audiences. It took a pass on "Golden Palace," the revamped "Golden Girls" minus Bea Arthur, for the same reason. (ABC grabbed "Matlock," and CBS grabbed "In the Heat of the Night" and "Golden Palace.") Another show, "Hot Country Nights," didn't make the schedule despite all the talk of a country music boom, in part because its audience also skewed older. (A revamped version of "Hot Country Nights," with a younger focus might return at midseason, though, an NBC spokesman said yesterday.)
All but two of the new shows are targeted toward young viewers. Three of the five new sitcoms feature African-American stars. In addition to "I Witness Video," the other new shows are:
* "Here and Now" stars Warner as a graduate student who works at a youth center part-time. The show is produced by Bill Cosby.
* "Up All Night" features Patti LaBelle as an owner of a popular dance club who takes a young man, played by Morris Chestnut from "Boyz 'N the Hood," under her wing.
* "Rhythm and Blues" stars Anna Marie Horsford, Ron Glass and Bobby Soul, in a sitcom about a black radio station that features a white disc jockey.
* "In the Loop" brings back David Keith from the instantly canceled "Flesh 'n' Blood." This time Keith plays half of an odd couple in Chicago.
* "Loved by You" brings back Paul Reiser from the canceled "My Two Dads" as half of a "young married couple trying to find wedded bliss despite the demands of their respective professional careers." It will follow NBC's hit, "Seinfeld," in the Wednesday night lineup.
* "The Round Table" focuses on young professionals living and ** working in Georgetown. The show is another ensemble drama from Aaron Spelling, the creator of "Beverly Hills, 90210."
* "Secret Service" spotlights -- you guessed it -- the Secret Service.
NBC's fall schedule
NBC-TV's 1992-'93 prime-time schedule (all times Eastern time):
8 p.m.: "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air"
8:30 p.m.: "Blossom"
9 p.m.: NBC Monday Night at the Movies
8 p.m.: "Quantum Leap" (new day/time)
9 p.m.: "Reasonable Doubts" (new time)
10 p.m.: "Dateline NBC"
8 p.m.: "Unsolved Mysteries"
9 p.m.: "Seinfeld"
9:30 p.m.: "Loved by You" (new show)
10 p.m.: "Law & Order" (new day/time)
8 p.m.: "A Different World" (new time)
8:30 p.m.: "Rhythm and Blues" (new show)
9 p.m.: "Cheers"
9:30 p.m.: "Wings"
10 p.m.: "L.A. Law"
8 p.m.: "In the Loop" (new show)
8:30 p.m.: "The Powers That Be" (new day)
9 p.m.: "The Round Table" (new show)
10 p.m.: "I'll Fly Away" (new time)
8 p.m.: "Here and Now" (new show)
8:30 p.m.: "Up All Night" (new show)
9 p.m.: "Empty Nest"
9:30 p.m.: "Nurses"
10 p.m.: "Sisters"
7 p.m.: "Secret Service" (new show)
8 p.m.: "I Witness Video" (new show)
9 p.m.: NBC Sunday Night at the Movies