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NBC News: Chuck Renewed; My Name Is Earl, Medium Canceled

Zachary Levi, Chuck Trae Patton/NBC

And now we're on to NBC's official scheduling announcements. What a busy day! The most important general note about NBC is that it's running two schedules for the 2009-10 season, one in fall and one in spring.

Canceled NBC Shows

  • My Name Is Earl star Ethan Suplee twittered: "Just got the call that My Name Is Earl has been canceled. They sure did take their time with that decision or rather informing us of it." Theoretically Earl could still go to another network, but it's leaving NBC for sure.
  • NBC has also canceled Medium. The show is produced by CBS Paramount, so according to Industry reports, it might go to the CBS network, where it might even fit better, at least as far as network brands are concerned.
  • As previously announced or leaked, Life, Kath & Kim and Knight Rider have all been canceled.

Returning NBC Shows

  • Chuck is officially coming back, thanks to the largesse of sponsor Subway. Chuck will air Mondays at 8 p.m. beginning in February, after the Olympics.
  • Heroes will take the Monday 8 p.m. time slot in the fall.
  • Law & Order has been renewed for season 20.
  • Law & Order and Southland will share Friday nights at 8 and 9 p.m., respectively. This Jay Leno situation makes TV all strange and unnatural.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit will air Wednesdays at 9 p.m. in both halves (fall and spring) of NBC's 2009-10 schedule.

New NBC Shows

  • New paramedic show Trauma will follow Heroes at 9 p.m.
  • New apocalypse show Day One will air Mondays at 9 p.m. beginning in February.
  • Joel McHale's Community will air at 9:30 p.m. on Thursdays after The Office.
  • Parenthood will air at 8 p.m. on Wednesdays in the fall, and then cede that slot to Mercy at midseason.
  • 100 Questions launches midseason at 9:30 p.m. on Tuesdays.

Read on for more NBC news in our liveblog of the Peacock's scheduling conference call...

NBC FALL SCHEDULE

Monday
8 p.m.: Heroes
9 p.m.: Trauma
10 p.m.: The Jay Leno Show

Tuesday
8 p.m.: The Biggest Loser (two-hour edition)
10 p.m.: The Jay Leno Show

Wednesday
8 p.m.: Parenthood
9 p.m.: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
10 p.m.: The Jay Leno Show

Thursday
8 p.m.: SNL Weekend Update Thursday (seven eps; swap in Community midway through fall)
8:30 p.m.: Parks and Recreation
9 p.m.: The Office
9:30 p.m.: Community (swap in 30 Rock midway through fall)
10 p.m.: The Jay Leno Show

Friday
8 p.m.: Law & Order
9 p.m.: Southland
10 p.m.: The Jay Leno Show

NBC SPRING SCHEDULE

Note: 2010 Winter Olympics preempt regular NBC programs February 12-28, 2010.

Monday
8 p.m.: Chuck
9 p.m.: Day One
10 p.m.: The Jay Leno Show

Tuesday
8 p.m.: The Biggest Loser (90-minute edition)
9:30 p.m.: 100 Questions
10 p.m.: The Jay Leno Show

Wednesday
8 p.m.: Mercy
9 p.m.: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
10 p.m.: The Jay Leno Show

Thursday
8 p.m.: Community
8:30 p.m.: Parks and Recreation
9 p.m.: The Office
9:30 p.m.: 30 Rock
10 p.m.: The Jay Leno Show

Friday
8 p.m.: Law & Order
9 p.m.: Southland
10 p.m.: The Jay Leno Show

Sunday
7 p.m.: Dateline NBC
8 p.m.: The Marriage Ref
9 p.m.: Celebrity Apprentice

NBC SCHEDULING CONFERENCE CALL LIVEBLOG

With the "infront" behind him and the NBC schedule finalized, NBC president Ben Silverman took press questions about his future plans for the Peacock.

11:36 a.m.: Silverman includes this in his introduction: "We are thrilled to be bringing back Chuck in partnership with Subway." Three cheers for good TV.

11:36 a.m.: Silverman starts off the press conference (and NBC noted in its press release) by stating that they are "thrilled to pick up more scripted shows than ever before." Although this would appear to make no sense on first glance—given that NBC has become JLN (the Jay Leno Network)—if you do the math on all the original, nonrepeated hours they're airing in any given week, they say they do have as much scripted TV as they would during an old, pre-Leno week with repeats intermingled with original episodes. OK. Well then...

11:38 a.m.: Silverman says, "We're trying to keep original episodes on our comedy block the entire year..." That Comedy Night Done Right block (formerly Must-See TV) will have few if any repeats, as the cycle through various schedulings of 30 Rock, SNL's Weekend Update/Thursday, Community, Parks & Recreation and The Office, etc. will keep things all new.

11:38 a.m.: NBC has ordered 16 episodes of the original Law & Order.

11:39 a.m.: Why is NBC moving L&O and Southland to Friday, aka the night we lovingly call the Friday death slot? Silverman: "We love the idea of the best crime dramas on television being coupled with each other." Silverman defends Friday programming (and even Saturday programming) at various points in the call, suggesting that networks surrendering on those days allowed for cable's rise.

11:41 a.m.: Medium is canceled. Silverman explains, "There are a couple of shows that were aging as we're trying to go up..." Oh gee.

11:42 a.m.: According to Silverman, the online campaign really saved Chuck, and lack of online demand for shows like Medium and My Name Is Earl contributed to their demise.

11:43 a.m.: Dear CBS president Nina Tassler,
Pleeeease, please, please pick up Medium. How's that for online demand?
Thank you.

11:44 a.m.: Twitterer @sepinwall comes on the line, and Ben Silverman credits him with the Chuck renewal: "Alan, it's because of you! Chuck!" Wonderful to hear that, although @GMMR@moryan,  and @tvweek_joe really deserve some credit, too. Congrats to all of them and all of you as well!

11:45 a.m.: Silverman says he was sent more Nerds than anybody could consume in a lifetime. They will promote Chuck heavily during the Olympics.

11:46 a.m.: The NBC broadcast of season four of Friday Night Lights will air summer 2010. Silverman says, "We are a 52-week programmer. We are looking to have high-end scripted material throughout our year. In the case of FNL, we did not see real direct erosion from the DirecTV relationship," so they feel safe airing it during that season.

11:48 a.m.: NBC has ordered 19 new episodes of Heroes to run sequentially.

11:54 a.m.: Are there any plans to trim castmembers from Chuck? Ben Silverman: "We're not looking to lower the cost in any way. We want Josh Schwartz, Zach and McG to perform at the highest levels. The show you love will be the show you get." Is Warner Bros. asking them to make concessions in their production costs? "I don't think so. I know that's a show they believe in tremendously based on their [lobbying for it] with us."

11:57 a.m.: "Joel McHale is a star in the way that Tina Fey, Steve Carell, Alec Baldwin and Amy Poehler are stars." Preach it, Silverman!

11:57 a.m.: "Quality makes you more patient." Ben Silverman speaks the truth. We've seen demonstrations of this effect on many networks this year, including ABC's support with Better Off Ted and Fox's renewal of Dollhouse.

12:03 p.m.: Q: Did you ever consider cutting Biggest Loser down in order to save room for other shows? A: Ben says that they're trimming down the spring cycle from two hours to 90 minutes and then slotting 100 Questions into the 30 minutes left that night, in hopes of cross-promoting to female viewers of both shows.

12:05 p.m.: Someone asks about the expectations for Jay Leno, especially in the 18-49 demographic that commercial buyers desire. Ben Silverman: "We're really excited about Jay, his topical humor, day and date. We're more confident that ever." NBC asserts that doing comedy at 10 p.m. is original and attractive to viewers.

12:08 p.m.: 30 Rock will not launch until about a month into the fall season, partly because Alec Baldwin and Tina Fey are doing movies this summer, and partly because they want them to be able to air originals only and they need time to prep those.

12:08 p.m.: Silverman's thoughts on the future of the TV medium in general (a future that has been described as the primary anxiety of this year's upfronts): "We're bullish on broadcast and on premium content."

12:13 p.m.: Some lawyer somewhere must have told Ben Silverman that he must refer to all strikes as "labor disputes."

12:15 p.m.: Chuck: "There were a lot of people within this company who love that show." Apparently the Subway sponsorship really made the difference in the pickup. Everybody go buy a foot-long as soon as you can, and laugh at Quizno's as you drive past!

Next up, the ABC presentation to advertisers (not to be confused with this morning's ABC press conference with us media types), and then tomorrow, CBS. Now, what do you guys think of NBC's scheduling plans for the future?

And don't forget to check out our gallery of fall's hottest upcoming TV shows.

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