Alphabet transplanting 'Trees' to Thursdays


Hoping to repeat the success of its "Ugly Betty" scheduling move, ABC is transplanting another freshman Friday series, "Men in Trees," to Thursdays.

Meanwhile, CBS will split the first season of drama "Jericho" into two half seasons of all-original episodes. Back-to-back episodes of veteran comedy "The King of Queens" will fill in for the nuclear disaster series while it is on hiatus.

ABC has given a back-nine pickup to "Trees," bringing the total order of the drama starring Anne Heche to 22 episodes. Starting Nov. 30, the Warner Bros. TV-produced series will move to the Thursday 10 p.m. slot, following "Grey's Anatomy."

Freshman drama "Six Degrees," which failed to gain traction in the Thursday 10 p.m. period, has been pulled off the schedule and is set to return with new episodes in January.

"We love these two shows and are excited at the promise they have shown," ABC Entertainment president Stephen McPherson said. "Thursdays will be a great platform for 'Men in Trees' to reach a larger audience."

This week, ABC will rerun last week's episode of "Desperate Housewives" in the Thursday 10 p.m. slot. ABC hasn't decided what it will air in the time period for the remaining Thursdays of the November sweep. There is no decision yet either on what will run in "Trees' " Friday 9 p.m. slot while the show airs on Thursday.

"Trees," from creator Jenny Bicks, stars Heche as a famous thirtysomething self-help/dating guru who moves to Elmo, Alaska. Bicks is executive producing with James Mangold and Cathy Konrad.

Following largely positive reviews, "Trees" has had a quiet run in its Friday slot, trailing behind CBS and NBC. In its most recent airing Nov. 1, the series averaged 6.9 viewers and a 2.2 rating/6 share among adults 18-49.

The first half of "Jericho's" freshman season will end Nov. 29 with a cliffhanger finale. The series, starring Skeet Ulrich, will return Feb. 14 with a recap of the first 11 episodes, followed by an all-new episode every Wednesday for the rest of the season.

CBS' scheduling department studied the ratings performance of a lot of serialized dramas, from "Dallas" and "Knots Landing" to ABC's "Lost" and "Housewives," before making the split-season decision on "Jericho."

"We decided that this pattern was best for the network, best for the show and best for the viewers," said CBS' executive vp program planning and scheduling Kelly Kahl.

The pattern mirrors the fall/spring season scheduling for Fox's "Prison Break" introduced last year and a similar template employed this year by "Lost."

During "Jericho's" 10-week hiatus, CBS will continue the show's first 11 episodes on the network's broadband channel Innertube where "Jericho" has been the most-streamed CBS program.

Additionally, CBS will create a special site for the show, which will include original content, interactive elements, recaps and sneak previews.

"It's an unprecedented amount of Web product for us, all in an effort to keep people engaged while we have (the show) on hiatus," Kahl said.

While "Jericho" is off, promos for the show will continue to run, directing viewers to the Web site.
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