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Headline News Changing Primetime Lineup

Los Angeles -- In a major scheduling change, CNN Headline News next month will overhaul its primetime schedule to feature more entertainment and talk-show-based programming.

As part of its new “Headline Prime” lineup beginning Feb. 21, the network will bow Showbiz Tonight, a live show that will feature a comprehensive mix of stories, live reports, in-studio interviews and debates surrounding the latest happenings in the entertainment world, CNN News Group executive vice president Ken Jautz said at the network's Television Critics Association tour session here.

The one-hour show, hosted by former Cable News Network Talk Back Live host Karyn Bryant and former VH1 personality A.J. Hammer, will air weekdays at 7 p.m.

Following Showbiz Tonight will be Nancy Grace, a one-hour talk show hosted by the current Court TV legal analyst.

At 10 p.m., the network will air a one-hour block of news dubbed Prime News Tonight, with both Showbiz Tonight and Nancy Grace reairing beginning at 11 p.m.

Jautz said the change was made to boost primetime viewership for the network. "There's so much competition now and there are so many news Web sites … that by the time you get to primetime, people who are interested in the news know the basic headlines of the day," Jautz said. "By offering people more choices, different types of news and information shows, we can bring more people to the CNN brand."

CNN News Group president Jim Walton said operators have thus far embraced the network's primetime lineup. "We have great relationships with operators," he said. "This is not going to be a surprise to anybody, and they are rooting for us."

In other Turner Broadcasting System Inc. network news, Turner Network Television announced that it has green-lit two original scripted series to air later this year.

The network has ordered 13 episodes each for The Closer, a police drama starring Kyra Sedgwick, and Rush, executive-produced by Aaron Spelling and revolving around a Los Angeles-based undercover strike force, according to Turner officials.