Van Redin, NBC
Zach Gilford stars as the young quarterback in "Friday Night Lights," which can be seen tonight at 7 on NBC/Ch. 5

We knew NBC would have to revamp its schedule in January. After the NFL season ends, the network will have an empty Sunday-night slate.

The best news to come out of NBC's re-jiggering is football-related but has nothing to do with the NFL. The top-quality, low-rated, high-school football drama "Friday Night Lights" will get a new time slot.

There's certainly no guarantee that moving to Sundays at 7 p.m. as of Jan. 10 will cure "Lights"' ratings woes, but it was a virtual certainty that airing opposite Fox's returning "American Idol" would kill the show.

NBC plays the reality card twice on Sundays to fill the NFL void — one new show, one returning series.

• "Grease: You're the One That We Want," a talent competition dangling roles in a new Broadway production as prizes, debuts Jan. 7 at 7 p.m. (Its first two episodes will be 90 minutes, then it settles into one-hour installments.)

• And the incredibly tired "Apprentice" returns Jan. 7 at 8:30 p.m. (Its first two episodes will also be 90 minutes, then it settles into one-hour installments at 8 p.m.) It's supposed to be all spiffy and new, because it's called "The Apprentice: Los Angeles," but silly old Donald Trump will still be around.

• On Jan. 21, "Crossing Jordan" returns on Sundays at 9 p.m.

The only real surprise on Sundays is that NBC changed its mind about bringing back Regis Philbin and "America's Got Talent" in January. That show will still return but not until spring or summer.

Other changes include:

• "Dateline" gets the Death Slot opposite "American Idol" — it begins airing on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. on Dec. 26.

• On Jan. 3, one of the weekly editions of "Deal or No Deal" begins airing Wednesdays at 8 p.m.

NBC CONTINUED ITS POLICY of renewing shows whose ratings are, well, weak. The latest show to join "Friday Night Lights" and "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" on that list is the comedy "30 Rock."

Airing in its new Thursday-at-8:30 p.m. time slot last week, "30 Rock" attracted about 6 million viewers, which isn't particularly good but is about what the show had done when it aired on Wednesdays. Worse yet, that was about 1.7 million fewer viewers than the show that preceded it on NBC's schedule, the season premiere of "Scrubs."

None of which really merits the big vote of confidence NBC gave "30 Rock" by ordering nine additional episodes, upping Tina Fey's comedy to a full-season order — 22 episodes.

But I'm not going to criticize NBC Entertainment president Kevin Reilly for doing it. He obviously believes in the show, and I'd rather a network president stick with a show he believes in than throw anything and everything on the air, hoping something sticks.

CBS PULLED THE PLUG on the medical drama "3 Lbs." after only three episodes.

This is becoming a bit of a habit for the network, which did the same thing to the previous occupant of the Tuesday-at-9 p.m. time slot, "Smith." And, last spring, CBS aired "Love Monkey" in the same time slot for exactly (you guessed it!) three episodes before yanking that show.

The big difference is that "Love Monkey" was a good show, and CBS should have been patient. "Smith" and "3 Lbs." were both well-intentioned but hugely flawed series that were never going to work.

The network has already planned to air the "Victoria's Secret Fashion Show" tonight at 9, but a scheduled episode of "3 Lbs." at 8 p.m. has been scrapped. (A repeat of "The Unit" is there instead.)

There's no word on what CBS will do to fill the hour on a more long-term basis, in part because "3 Lbs." was supposed to debut sometime next year but had been rushed onto the air when "Smith" tanked.


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