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WB needs a good showing with its midseason offerings

This is what I'm thinking:

With the WB having only seven months to live, its new midseason series better make a big ratings impression fast.

That's just about the network's only hope of survival when the best of the WB (WNYO in Buffalo) and UPN (WNLO here) are combined next fall on the new network, CW.

The first WB midseason show to get its chance will be Tom Fontana's "The Bedford Diaries." Matthew Modine plays a college professor teaching a course on sex and the human condition. Milo Ventimiglia ("Gilmore Girls") and Penn Badgley are among the great-looking stars of the series, which will premiere at 9 p.m. March 22. That puts it opposite ABC's "Lost." In other words, it easily could get lost even if "Lost" is in repeats.

WB executives believe it is a good companion piece with "One Tree Hill," the Chad Michael Murray series whose future is uncertain. I'm not buying that one. "One Tree Hill" doesn't have the same thoughtful tone as "Bedford," which is as much about the meaning of love as it is about sex.

"Pepper Dennis," a romantic comedy that would have looked new if it were the 1980s, will premiere at 9 p.m. April 4 after "The Gilmore Girls" and be repeated at 9 p.m. Sundays. It stars Rebecca Romjin as a TV news reporter. The repeat suggests that the WB believes more in "Pepper" than in "Bedford."

One great bit of news for fans of the WB's "Everwood" is its March 20 return to Mondays after starting the season on Thursday. The Treat Williams series will return with a two-hour broadcast, then air at 9 p.m. Mondays on March 27 after "7th Heaven." "Supernatural" will move from Tuesday to 9 p.m. Thursday on March 16 after "Smallville."

It is unclear how much promotion the WB will put into all these moves now that it is planning for its demise.


Can this presidency be saved? ABC's decision to pull "Commander in Chief" for six weeks after the end of the February sweeps shouldn't be looked at as the direct result of the decline in President MacKenzie Allen's (Geena Davis) approval ratings.

March is the usual time that network's rest series and try new ones. Sometimes, the newcomers impress so much that they permanently displace the series being rested. For instance, "Grey's Anatomy" did so well at 10 p.m. Sundays last March that ABC decided to keep it there and hold the show it replaced, "Boston Legal."

I suspect that won't happen to "Commander in Chief" because the show slotted in its Tuesday place, "Sons & Daughters," is an off-beat family comedy from "Saturday Night Live" producer Lorne Michaels that will be an acquired taste. ABC will run back-to-back episodes of the comedy, which will get critical support here and elsewhere.

"Invasion," the Wednesday drama that has the full support of ABC Entertainment President Stephen McPherson," also is being pulled in late March for a new crime drama, "The Evidence." Like President MacKenzie, "Invasion" is expected to return in April.

ABC also will be premiering a few new reality shows in the spring: "Miracle Workers" (10 p.m. March 6) and "American Inventors" (8 p.m. March 16), along with a new relationship drama, "What About Brian" with Barry Watson of "7th Heaven" in the lead. It premieres in the "Grey's Anatomy" slot, 10 p.m. April 2, a night before it moves to its regular 10 p.m. Monday time slot.


Attention fans of "Glory Road," the Jerry Bruckheimer film about the 1966 NCAA basketball championship won by the all-black starting five of Texas Western over the University of Kentucky. Bryant Gumbel's HBO series, "Real Sports," revisits a 1996 Emmy-winning piece, "More Than a Game" at 10 p.m. Tuesday. It will give a better understanding of how close the fact-based film is to the actual story.


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