'Monk,' 'Psych' headed for NBC
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With no end to the writers strike in sight, NBC is expanding its repurposing strategy, opening a second window on the upcoming winter seasons of USA Network's dramedies "Monk" and "Psych."
"Monk" and "Psych," which run as a two-hour block on the cable network Friday nights, will each return with six new episodes Jan. 11 on USA. Those episodes will then air as an 8-10 p.m. block on NBC on Sunday nights beginning March 2. In addition to the winter 2008 episodes of "Monk" and "Psych," NBC also will have access to older segments of both series.
"I've been a big fan of these shows since they came on the air, and we've been talking about airing them since the merger of NBC and Universal," said Ben Silverman, co-chairman of NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios. "A mystery block on Sunday looked opportunistic and good counter-programming."
NBC might do a test run with "Monk" and "Psych" on Sunday and "come back with our own NBC character-driven procedurals" in the time period, Silverman said.
Added fellow co-chairman Marc Graboff, "It's a win-win situation -- the shows, both produced by our own Universal Media Studios, receive additional exposure while providing great programming for NBC."
NBC already is set to repurpose USA's crime drama "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," also produced internally at UMS, as well as the Web series "Quarterlife."
The broadcast network also has been looking at USA's hot summer series "Burn Notice," but such an acquisition would be trickier as the show hails from Fox TV Studios.
USA and Sci Fi Channel president Bonnie Hammer said she is not worried about diluting the USA brand by having so many series airing additionally on NBC.
"If anything, it will bring new viewers to the shows on USA," she said. "This was always an end-game goal."
She said that all USA pilots are being shown to NBC execs to see if they also would be a fit on the broadcast network.
Silverman stressed that the repurposing of the two USA shows was not triggered by the ongoing writers strike.
"A lot of this we would be doing anyway," he said. "The strike is pointing a flashlight on it."
Still, broadcast networks have been looking to their cable siblings for series they can air in the spring to avoid too many strike-imposed repeats.
The only other network to announce strike-related repurposing plans so far is CBS, which is going to turn edited repeats of crime drama "Dexter" as well as other series from sister premium cable network Showtime.
Although almost all long-running broadcast series run in cable syndication, the leaps in the other direction are still rare, with the most high-profile example being "Monk."
As part of the show's original deal at USA, "Monk," which was developed by Touchstone TV, got a second window on ABC for its first two seasons.
Hammer believes the series starring Tony Shalhoub will do better in the ratings on NBC than it did on ABC because it now is an established show with a strong following.
In addition to cable repurposing, the broadcast networks, especially NBC, have been exploring acquisitions of foreign series as strike contingency.