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Nick Plans A Family Nite

Fresh on the heels of expanding its programming day, Nick at Nite will launch its first original series later this month with hopes of attracting both young adults and their parents.

Glenn Martin DDS, an animated series from former The Walt Disney Co. chairman Michael Eisner's Torante production company, debuts Aug. 17. If successful, the new show could spur other original series for the acquired sitcom-based network, said Cyma Zarghami, president, Nickelodeon and MTVN Kids and Family Group.

The series, which follows the adventures of an overworked dentist and his family as they take an extended road trip in a Winnebago, will air Mondays at 8 p.m. on Nick at Nite, which last month moved up its start time one hour from 9 p.m. (See review on this page.)

Zarghami said the animated show, which includes more adult, sophisticated humor not usually seen on Nickelodeon, is the perfect vehicle to bridge the younger skewing Nick audience with the more-adult Nick at Nite demo. Zarghami said she is not concerned that the show will be too edgy for Nickelodeon viewers, adding that other networks offer even more mature content at 8 p.m.

While Nielsen won't begin measuring Nick at Nite's additional programming hour until later this fall, the network is already a top 10-rated primetime cable service. In July the network averaged 1.7 million viewers, landing it in fifth place among basic cable networks, according to Nielsen Media Research.

“This show is going to walk the line between what's appropriate for Nick at Nite and what's typical for Nickelodeon, but in order to get the family together, the humor has to be a little more sophisticated,” she said. “The hope is that it will bring the right Nickelodeon kids to the show who will then bring their parents and level off with the right mix of viewers.”

If Glenn Martin proves to be a hit with Nick At Nite viewers, Zarghami said the network would look to produce more original content to compliment its acquired series lineup which includes The George Lopez Show, The Nanny, Home Improvement, Malcolm In the Middle and, coming in September, Everybody Hates Chris.

Zarghami said the network doesn't have any other original projects in development, but added that acquired fare would always represent the lion's share of the network's programming lineup.

“Even if we have an aggressive original schedule, it would be two or three shows at a time,” she said. “What most cable channels like us are doing is trying to find the right balance between original and acquired content, but for us it would never be more than 20% original content.”