America’s love for nonscripted programming will be put to the test in the coming weeks — along with their ability to tell the truth, remember the eighth grade and knock a gladiator off a podium with a foam-padded stick.

Although the Writers Guild of America’s strike may end at four months if published rumors hold true, networks that long ago exhausted most of their original programming still need reality shows — which are not covered under the guild — to give viewers something new during the February sweeps and beyond; even if the strike were to end this week, it would take a couple months for new, scripted shows to get through the creative process.

Following is a roundup compiled from network releases and other sources of what new series, specials and other stop-gaps the networks have planned for the next few months.


A mix of the old and new will help fill ABC’s prime time slots.

“Lost” returned Jan. 31 for its fourth season, although only eight of the scheduled 16 episodes were filmed before the strike started. The season premiere drew 16.1 million viewers, ABC reported, up from the average 14.6 million viewers who tuned in last season.

Among the winter scripted premieres ABC unveiled is the drama “Eli Stone,” which follows a lawyer who suffers from a conscience crisis and debuted to 11 million viewers last week in its slot following “Lost.” Also debuting this winter was “Cashmere Mafia,” which follows four women in New York City who juggle demanding careers and their personal lives with help from each other.

In the reality realm, “Oprah’s Big Give” (debuting at 9 p.m. March 2) will follow people charged with using new-found money to help clubs, organizations and other complete strangers. The show’s namesake will pony up a prize for the winner. “Big Give” will air in one-hour segments over eight weeks.

Coming back this summer, meanwhile, is “The Bachelorette,” in which 25 single men compete for the affection of a woman — in this case 26-year-old DeAnna Pappas, who made it to the finals on The Bachelor” before being rejected.


In its 16th season, “Survivor” will likely lead the way for CBS when it returns tonightfeb 7. The latest installment of this conquer-the-wild series will see a group of new castaways compete against some of the show’s all-time favorites in Micronesia. CBS has picked up “Survivor” for two more seasons.

CBS is experimenting with shifting shows around to help fill prime time. In addition to picking up episodes of sister station Showtime’s series “Dexter,” six “The Price is Right” specials will air at 8 p.m. Fridays beginning Feb. 22, allowing viewers who haven’t seen new host Drew Carey during the daytime to see how well he fills Bob Barker’s shoes.

Three new game shows have been ordered by the network for later this year. “Secret Talents of the Stars” is a biweekly talent show that will see celebrities compete in a tournament to see whose hidden skills best impress viewers. “Punk’d” producers Ashton Kutcher and Jason Goldberg will present the half-hour hidden camera show “Game Show In My Head,” which will have contestants wearing earpieces and following increasingly embarrassing instructions from the host to see who will do what’s necessary to cash in. Canines will be the featured attraction in an hour-long show with the working title “America’s Top Dog,” in which owners and their pets will live together and battle to determine which dog is tops.

Also filling some gaps will be one-time specials. “Celine Dion: That’s Just the Woman in Me” (9 p.m. Feb. 15) will see the singer perform her greatest hits in an hour-long show. The American Film Institute, meanwhile, will release another list in June when “AFI’s 10 Top 10” runs down the top films in 10 genres, including animation, science fiction and sports.

• Fox

The most well-off of the four major networks, Fox knew from the strike’s inception that it had the January debut of “American Idol” to lean on to take the ratings war.

Although down a bit from past years, “Idol” is again the No. 1 show in the Nielsen ratings, as some 26 million viewers have tuned in per episode thus far in the series’ seventh season.

A bigger surprise has been “The Moment of Truth,” the lie detector game show airing after “Idol” that has competitors answering personal questions for a shot at $500,000. With 23.2 million viewers tuning in for its debut last month and ratings remaining strong since, Fox has already ordered 13 more episodes of the show, which will continue running after “Idol” on Wednesdays until March 5, when it will assume the 8 p.m. time slot.

The network retained a few new episodes of several series to air in February, including “Prison Break,” “Back to You” and “The Simpsons.” The Thursday night game show lineup of “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth-Grader” and “Don’t Remain the Lyrics” will be new throughout February, while the winter addition “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” will continue its uninterrupted Monday night run through spring.

Other spring arrivals for Fox include “New Amsterdam” (debuts March 10), about a New York homicide detective who discovers he’s immortal; “The Return of Jezebel James” (March 12), a sitcom starring Parker Posey and Lauren Ambrose about sisters who move back in together when one decides to carry the other’s baby; and the Julianna Margulies-led courtroom drama “Canterbury’s Law” (April 14).


The Peacock has a reality hit of its own in “American Gladiators,” the 1990s game show remake that draws eight-figure audiences Monday nights. NBC has picked up “Gladiator,” which ends its first run later this month, for a second season that will air during the summer.

Further riding the nostalgia wave, NBC has remade the 1980s hit “Knight Rider” into a movie of the week that will air Feb. 17. The talking KITT car has been updated to a Ford Mustang, while Justin Bruening assuming the lead human role.

To fill the void left by “Gladiator” and “1 vs. 100,” which also ends an eight-week run later this month, NBC will introduce two new game shows. “My Dad is Better than Your Dad” (debuts Feb. 18) will see Dan Cortese lead groups of fathers and heir children as they go through a series of challenges to see which dad is best. “Amne$ia,” meanwhile, will test contestants’ memories as Dennis Miller asks them questions about their past for cash (Feb. 22).

Not wanting to be undone in the celebrity talent realm, NBC will host “Celebrity Circus” (working title) over the summer, which will see circus professionals judge stars in a variety of physical feats. The network has also picked up the country music talent contest “Nashville Star” from sister station USA Network for broadcast over the summer, which will lead up to NBC’s coverage of the Summer Olympics from Beijing.