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Less Zucker, Same Old Reality at NBC

NBC did not unveil a new slogan at its upfront presentation today, but if it had, it could have gone with something like "NBC: Now With 100 Percent Less Zucker.” The most ridiculed TV executive of his generation—Jeffrey Zucker, the one-time wunderkind who drove the network that ruled television in the in the '80s and '90s into the ratings sub-basement—is long gone from Rockefeller Center. So when NBC's new bosses told reporters today that the network needs a little less reinvention of the wheel and a lot more Broadcasting 101," reporters, sly folks that they are, knew what they meant. Translation: "We are going to try to suck less."

An NBC that sucks less would indeed be good news for actors. A more stable lineup means more stable work, after all. And at the network that brought you Jay Leno at 10 p.m. and the evisceration of the "Law & Order" franchise, stability has been in short supply. But anyone who hoped that Broadcasting 101 would mean more scripted programming and less stuff about people going to fat camp wound up disappointed this weekend. NBC's week-night lineup will consist of 10 hours of scripted programming and five hours of reality and news. (Fall Sundays at NBC, of course, belong to the NFL, assuming that the league and the players work out there collective-bargaining issue before the start of the season.) Last fall’s schedule featured 11 hours of scripted and four hours of unscripted.

Fox released its lineup this morning, and the other two networks will follow later this week. At Fox, the slate includes a lot of “X-Factor” and a lot of “Cops.” The most interesting development comes at midseason, when the network will experiment with a four-hour block of half-hour comedies. 
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