Fox's midseason greeting

Slot shifts, 'Idol' coattails in play

Fox has tweaked its strike-impacted midseason schedule, upgrading the time periods for new dramas "New Amsterdam" and "Canterbury's Law" and giving two midseason series, "Amsterdam" and "The Return of Jezebel James," previews behind "American Idol."

Fox was the first network to rejigger its midseason lineup Nov. 7, the third day of the writers strike, and has made the most dramatic strike-related scheduling move: keeping the incomplete season of "24" on the shelf until next season.

Two months later, as the work stoppage is shaping up to be a long one, Fox brass took another look at its lineup plans, scheduling chief Preston Beckman said.

"As we have new information on our needs, we thought it was time to adjust the schedule," he said. "We want to make sure we give all new shows every opportunity to find an audience because we may need them."

"Amsterdam" and "Canterbury's" originally were slated to air in the Friday 9 p.m. period, premiering Feb. 22 and April 11, respectively.

Now both shows have been relocated to Monday 9 p.m. where they will air behind repeats of "House."

"Amsterdam" launches March 10. "Canterbury's" debuts April 14 and will get a boost during the May sweep when its four airings will run after fresh episodes of "Bones."

"Amsterdam's" premiere will follow two previews after "Idol" on March 4 and March 6. (Starting Feb. 21, "Idol" will expand to three nights a week for three weeks.)

"James" will get sampling after "Idol" on March 12 ahead of its March 14 premiere in the Friday 8:30 p.m. period.

On Fridays, "Amsterdam" and "Canterbury's" will be replaced by "Bones" repeats. Meanwhile, the unscripted series "When Women Ruled the World," originally scheduled to air Mondays at 9 p.m. starting March 3, has been pushed to summer.

The strike has significantly boosted the chances of "Amsterdam" and "James." The two shows seemed destined for short life a couple of weeks before the beginning of the writers strike when Fox cut back the order on "James" from 13 to seven and shut down production on "Amsterdam" indefinitely with seven episodes in the can.

"We've seen the episodes, and I think there could be some pleasant surprises in some of the shows," Beckman said of Fox's crop of midseason scripted series that includes "Amsterdam," "James," "Canterbury's," drama "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" and comedy "Unhitched."

"The Moment of Truth," a passion project of Fox reality guru Mike Darnell, will air in the plum post-"Idol" 9 p.m. slot on Wednesdays beginning Jan. 23 and will slide to 8 p.m., paired again with "Idol," beginning March 12. It also will serve as a lead-in for "Sarah Connor" on Feb. 25.

Freshman comedy "Back to You" also will get some "Idol" love. The last original episodes of the sitcom starring Patricia Heaton and Kelsey Grammer will air after the hit reality show Feb. 26 and 27.