Obama sets State of Union address date

Networks firming up plans for covering the Jan. 27 event

The White House on Monday set Jan. 27 as the date for President Obama's latest State of the Union address.

Because of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, broadcast networks are expected to firm up plans for covering the event Tuesday.

NBC is expected to stick with "Mercy" at 8 p.m., followed by coverage of the speech and news coverage from 9-11 p.m., preempting "Law & Order: SVU" and "The Jay Leno Show."

Fox would be making the biggest move as the address faces its Wednesday edition of "American Idol."

"Idol" probably would move to 8 p.m. that night, squeezing out new drama "Human Target," which airs during the hour. "Target" still would air an original that week, probably behind the Tuesday "Idol," bumping "Kitchen Nightmares."

CBS was mulling its options: keeping its Wednesday comedy block at 8 p.m. or possibly moving one of its high-rated Wednesday crime dramas, "Criminal Minds" or "CSI: NY," into the 8 p.m. slot. (The network has done that in the past with "CSI: NY.")

ABC probably will air a pair of its three Wednesday comedies, with family-friendly "The Middle" and "Modern Family" leading contenders, leading into political coverage.

The Jan. 27 date, which falls the day before the start of the February sweep, came as a bit of a surprise as dates previously floated by the White House were Jan. 26 and Feb. 2.

After "Lost" groupies mounted a campaign against a potential pre-emption of the ABC series' three-hour premiere event Feb. 2, the White House took the unusual step of reassuring fans through spokesman Robert Gibbs that Obama won't interfere with the show's season opener.