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On the air

The latest TV news for the week of March 20, 1998

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REPLACEMENT KILLERS Don’t get too attached to any of the new shows popping up over the next few weeks — odds are that most will soon be history. For every mid-season success like Just Shoot Me there are 10 Chicago Sons. This spring’s contenders include NBC’s House Rules and Lateline, ABC’s That’s Life and Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place, CBS’ The Closer, and Fox’s Damon and Getting Personal.

ABC’s Thursday-night drama Prey is experiencing the highs and lows of mid-season status. ”We got a lot of promotion,” says Prey exec producer Charlie Craig. ”The downside was we went opposite Friends and the Olympics.”

Just Shoot Me executive producer Steven Levitan can empathize; last year his show got stuck on NBC’s anemic Wednesday night. ”We didn’t feel completely under the gun,” he says, finding the good in a bad situation. ”We had an opportunity to stop and look at what we had with just six episodes and make changes.” But, he says, the run was over ”just when we felt we were hitting our stride. It was frustrating.”

Getting Personal (with Vivica A. Fox, Jon Cryer, and Duane Martin) must fill Melrose Place‘s stilettos. ”It’s daunting replacing a much-loved drama with a comedy that may not necessarily match the Melrose audience,” says exec producer Jeff Strauss.

Exec producer Mark B. Perry may have lucked out with his athletic drama Push, which will debut April 6 on ABC in the Monday 8-9 p.m. slot. With would-be competitor Melrose on hiatus, Push will be the only adult-drama series in its time period. ”We won’t get lost in the shuffle,” says Perry, ”but we’ll be walking bare-ass naked on stage with no shows to hide behind.”

TRIPLE BYPASS Oops. Cable net TNT made big news last week when it announced plans to air weekday reruns of ER, including three back-to-back episodes on Thursdays from 7 to 10 p.m. The only problem is that Warner Bros. Television — the studio that produces ER and a sister company to TNT — forgot to get NBC‘s blessing before giving TNT the go-ahead for the Thursday scheme. Although there is precedent for that sort of arrangement (A&E airs repeats of NBC’s Law & Order in prime time, as does FX with ABC’s NYPD Blue), sources say the Peacock is eager to quash this Must See-threatening scenario. None of the parties involved would comment on the festering controversy.

AND SO ON The Practice, which has already occupied three time slots, will find a permanent home this fall. Word is ABC plans to bag its struggling Sunday movie and give the legal drama that night’s 10 p.m. slot.