CW may jettison WB comedy; FOX picks a pairLOS ANGELES --
Despite the fact that it's the only WB sitcom with even a semblance of health, and that producer 20th Century Fox has a year left on its deal with the network, "Reba" may not make the jump to The CW in the fall. The showbiz trade papers are reporting that the new network isn't doesn't want the show, which just concluded its fifth season.
If that's the case, The CW will have to pay a sizable kill fee to 20th Century Fox TV, which has a year remaining on a two-year renewal with The WB. Estimates of the cost vary, but the trades agree that The CW will be forking over an eight-figure payment to the studio.
"Reba," which stars Reba McEntire as a put-upon divorced mother, averaged about 3.4 million viewers a week this season, down from 4.2 million last year. Still, of the sitcoms that aired on The WB or UPN this season, only UPN's "Everybody Hates Chris" has a bigger audience ("Reba" and UPN's "Girlfriends," which is on the bubble for The CW, draw virtually the same number of viewers).
The CW will announce its inaugural schedule, made up mostly of UPN and WB shows, on Thursday, May 18.
FOX's schedule announcement is that day as well, and the trades say the network has added two more dramas, "Primary" and "American Crime," to its schedule for 2006-07. (The network isn't commenting, however.)
The pickup of "Primary," about hostage negotiators (Ron Livingston and Rosemarie DeWitt) who also have a personal relationship, follows a sizable wave of buzz about the pilot last week. "American Crime," which comes from the Bruckheimer TV factory, is a drama about defense attorneys that features Victor Garber ("Alias") and Eamonn Walker ("Oz").
The two dramas join sitcom "'Til Death" and drama "Vanished" on the FOX schedule for next year.