MyNet rethinking telenovela sked


MyNetworkTV is considering cutting back on its strategy of "all telenovelas, all the time," sources said.

The network, which launched Sept. 5, has a schedule comprising two 13-week drama strips, with new episodes airing Monday- Friday and hourlong recaps airing Saturday.

But in light of underwhelming ratings for the dramas, network executives are exploring other options, which could include reducing the number of nights on which the dramas air or throwing nondrama series programming into the mix, sources said.

The first two dramas, "Desire" and the Bo Derek-Morgan Fairchild starrer "Fashion House," each averaged a 0.7 household rating/1 share over their 13-week run.

The newest dramas — "Wicked Wicked Games," starring Tatum O'Neal, and "Watch Over Me," starring Casper Van Dien and Catherine Oxenberg — debuted Dec. 6. In their first week on the air (a partial week consisting of three days because the shows debuted on a Wednesday), "Games" averaged a 0.7/1 among households, while "Watch" averaged a 0.6/1.

As for any possible on-air changes, it's believed there's no timetable for a potential revamping of the programming strategy.

A MyNetworkTV representative declined comment other than to say "we have lots of meetings."

When parent News Corp. an-nounced the network in February, it said that it had several shows in development along with the dramas. Among those in the works were "Catwalk," a reality-competition series involving aspiring models; "Celebrity Love Island," a Granada series that would bring together six celebrities and six singles; "America's Brainiest," a quiz show from Celador; and "On Scene," an investigative series that would put viewers at the scenes of crimes and with the people who solve them.

But at the Television Critics Assn. press tour in July, Fox Television Stations CEO Jack Abernethy and Paul Buccieri, president of programming at Twentieth Television, which produces the dramas, indicated that the network had abandoned those projects in favor of the telenovela-like serials (HR 7/21). Abernethy was firm on his stance that the network was committed to making the telenovela model work, with each show having its full 13-week run no matter the ratings, and likened MyNet to such "genre-driven" networks as Lifetime and Fox News Channel.

Three months later, at a Hollywood Radio & Television Society panel discussion in October, Abernethy admitted that "the ratings are not what we want them to be" after a month and a half on the air (HR 10/20). But, he added at the time, "this is the best thing for us. If something better comes along, we'll consider it, but right now this is the best model for us."