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ABC applies reality balm to heal Thursdays

ABC will use reality shows to try to improve its ratings on what
so far this season has been a dismal Thursday night for the network.

ABC is ranked No. 5 out of six networks on Thursdays, with even UPN's WWE
beating it.

"We are well aware that our performance on Thursdays has been unacceptable,"
said Lloyd Braun, chairman of ABC's entertainment group, at The Television Critics Association press tour in
Hollywood Wednesday. "We admit that we are looking for a quick fix on that
night. If we just show up [in the ratings] on Thursday nights, that will make a
great story."

To attempt to fix Thursdays, ABC will air six episodes of reality series
Are You Hot: The Search for America's Sexiest People, starting
Feb. 13 at 9 p.m.

The show -- from The Bachelor's executive producer, Mike Fleiss -- features
men and women competing before a panel of expert judges for the title of
"sexiest person in America."

"This is a contest where intelligence and achievement have absolutely no
bearing," quipped ABC Entertainment president Susan Lyne.

ABC will also air six episodes of Extreme Makeover starting Thursday,
April 3, at 9 p.m. The show, produced by Lighthearted Entertainment, premiered to
strong ratings in December.

"Well-executed original reality series such as Are You Hot and
Extreme Makeover can help to heat up cold time periods and recruit and hold
younger viewers -- two things we need to accomplish on Thursdays," Lyne

ABC also plans to keep Wednesdays at 9 p.m. occupied with reality in an
attempt to maintain the success of The Bachelor franchise in that slot.

On March 12, the network will air the two-hour premiere of All American
at 9 p.m., with the remaining 11 episodes airing at 10 p.m.

The show features a wide range of events -- modeling, singing, acting, dance
and athletics -- in which young women will vie for the title of All American

The show is produced by 19 Entertainment and executive-produced by Simon
Fuller and Nigel Lythgoe, who also executive-produce Fox's American
Idol: Search for a Superstar

Now that a Manhattan judge has ruled that I'm a Celebrity . Get Me Out of
does not violate any copyright laws, ABC is going ahead with plans to
air 15 consecutive episodes during February sweeps starting Wednesday, Feb. 19,
at 10 p.m., and finishing with a two-hour episode Wednesday, March 5 at 9 p.m.

In the show, eight celebrities are stranded in the Australian rainforest.
Viewers get to vote on who stays and who goes by phone and Internet.

ABC will also air the third installment of The Bachelor starting
Wednesday, March 26, at 9 p.m.

"The Bachelor in this edition will be the real deal," ABC said. "Aside
from having looks and charm, he also is the son of one of America's most
affluent and prominent families."

Successful reality-show franchises are becoming as expensive as dramas to
produce, Braun said, because executive producers are demanding higher license

What's more, reality producers don't accept deficit financing, so networks
have to cover upfront the entire cost of the show. And the shows don't repeat
other than as repurposing vehicles on co-owned cable networks, although Braun
said ABC has had success repurposing The Bachelor on ABC