TV Article

Law & Disorder

Kelley angered over ''Practice'''s new timeslot. The TV wunderkind accuses ABC of ''bad faith'' as the once-popular legal drama slumps

''Joe Millionaire'' is not the only Monday-night show that has lost its MoJo. So has ''The Practice,'' ever since it moved from its long-established Sunday night perch. While the show typically won its Sunday timeslot, the ABC drama is faring poorly against Fox's ''Joe Millionaire'' and other competition. ''Practice'' creator David E. Kelley is so upset he's accusing ABC of murder.

''They've killed it with one fell swoop,'' Kelley told Variety. ''It didn't make any sense when they announced it; it seemed like a death sport.'' Since the recent move, ''Practice'' has faltered against competition like ''Millionaire,'' CBS' ''Everybody Loves Raymond,'' and NBC's ''Third Watch.'' This week, it drew just 8.96 million viewers, according to Nielsen, its lowest finish since the show was launched in 1997. Said Kelley, ''I would hope [ABC] would act in their own self-interest and put it back where it was doing well.''

ABC entertainment chairman Lloyd Braun defended the move, telling Variety, ''I find it hard to believe that an established show that's widely recognized as one of the best dramas on TV isn't going to be able to establish itself Mondays at 9.'' One reason for the move was to boost the two new Monday dramas that flank it, ''Veritas'' and ''Miracles,'' and that tactic seems to has worked, he said. The other was to give a berth to ABC's upcoming new version of ''Dragnet.'' Braun acknowledged being ambushed by ''Joe Millionaire,'' but he notes that the reality show will end for good in three weeks. ''When it does, we'll have a better sense of where we are Mondays at 9. We're not going to rush to judgment.''

Originally posted Jan 29, 2003