Strike gives CW a chance to 'experiment' with sked

Laughs on Sun., 'Gossip' on Mon.

The CW is shaking up its schedule, relocating its Monday comedy block to Sundays and putting the freshman dramas "Gossip Girl" and "Reaper" on new nights.

On the reality front, "Pussycat Dolls Present: Girlicious" is set to debut Feb. 18, airing Monday nights, while "Beauty and the Geek" will debut March 11, leading into "One Tree Hill" on Tuesdays.

"We are really trying to take advantage of admittedly a very changed schedule now because of the strike," said Kelly Kahl, senior executive vp program operations at CBS, who oversees scheduling for the CW and CBS. "With the strike, we have an interesting opportunity to experiment, and with the nice stability from our reality shows, we can get a look at how some of these (scripted) shows do in other time periods."

On Feb. 10, the Monday comedy block — comprising "Everybody Hates Chris," "Aliens in America," "Girlfriends" and "The Game" — will move to Sunday nights, where it briefly aired when the CW launched in September 2006. It will displace the freshman drama "Life Is Wild," which has aired its initial order.

"Our Sunday schedule has not been setting the world on fire," Kahl said. "The comedies have very loyal audiences, and we're going to give them a chance to thrive somewhere else. To be fair, we really never gave them a chance (on Sundays) the last time."

Starting Jan. 28, "Gossip Girl" will move from 9 p.m. Wednesday to anchor Mondays at 8 p.m., leading in to "Pussycat Dolls." The move to Mondays will get "Gossip Girl," which has been getting a lot of buzz but has garnered only modest ratings, out of the path of Fox's "American Idol."

"We're trying to get it away from heavy competition and get it some sampling on Monday night because it's such an important show for the CW," Kahl said.

Meanwhile, "Reaper" will return at 8 p.m. Jan. 15 before moving to 9 p.m. Thursdays on Feb. 28, leading out of "Smallville." "Reaper," which had led out of "Beauty and the Geek," will replace "Supernatural," which is taking a break from the schedule.

"We're trying to give 'Reaper' a chance as well, moving it away from (Fox's) 'House' on Tuesday (at 9 p.m.) and seeing if we can find a bit more of a compatible lead-in in 'Smallville,' " Kahl said.

The CW's dramas are running out of originals because of the writers strike. "Gossip Girl" has one new episode remaining before reruns, "Reaper" has three and "Smallville" and "Supernatural" have several. Things look better on the comedy side, where "Chris" has completed its season and the other comedies have several episodes in the can.

"Pussycat Dolls" also will repeat on Wednesdays after "Top Model," which is returning for its 10th season. The strategy worked well during its first season.

"Putting the two numbers (from the first-run and repeat episodes) together made it a very strong show," Kahl said.

Still to come is the dating competition series "Farmer Wants a Wife," which Kahl said likely will debut in May.
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