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The O.C. Gets Fox Fall OK

As expected, Fox last week ordered the remaining nine episodes of its new prime-time soap, The O.C.

"The success of this show has proved to be a tremendous first step towards Fox's stated goal of a year-round programming strategy," said Gail Berman, Fox's president of entertainment. "We're changing the rules, and The O.C.'s success has clearly proved that you can shift the paradigm and launch original series outside the traditional September window."

Since its Aug. 5 premiere, The O.C. has built in every key demo, jumping 48% in adults 18-49, 77% in adults 18-34, 63% in persons 12-34 and 23% in total viewers.

Last Tuesday night, the show won its time period in adults 18-49, total viewers, adults 18-34, teens, and persons 12-34.

The rule-changing Berman refers to gets a test later on. When other networks are revving up their fall schedules, Fox is interrupted by baseball playoffs and the World Series. Starting The O.C. early built an audience base that Fox is betting will return after baseball is over.

The O.C.'s summer finale will air Tuesday, Sept. 16 at 9 p.m. and then will move to the much tougher time slot of Thursday nights at 9 p.m. when it returns to the prime-time schedule on Oct. 30.