NBC's "American Almanac," once scheduled to premiere as a weekly prime-time newsmagazine series in January, then on March 4, has been postponed again because it isn't ready yet, NBC News President Lawrence K. Grossman said Wednesday.
No new debut date was set. But Edward Fouhy, the program's executive producer, said he hopes that the Washington-based "Almanac," anchored by Roger Mudd, will be able to start its weekly run in early June.
An NBC spokesman in New York said that the series definitely will be on the network's prime-time schedule next fall, but "hopefully sooner" than that.
NBC said later Wednesday that "Stingray," a new action-adventure series by Stephen J. Cannell, would move into the 10 p.m. Tuesday slot previously earmarked for "Almanac." "Remington Steele," which was yielding that time period to the news program, will move to Saturday nights, starting Feb. 22, as previously planned.
FOR THE RECORD
Los Angeles Times Friday February 14, 1986 Home Edition Calendar Part 6 Page 23 Column 2 Television Desk 1 inches; 22 words Type of Material: Correction
In a story about NBC's "American Almanac" Thursday, it was incorrectly reported that CBS' "60 Minutes" is in its 14th season. The program premiered in 1968.
"Almanac," for which NBC Board Chairman Grant Tinker has repeatedly expressed strong support, has been on the air since August, but only on a monthly basis while it gears up to become a weekly offering.
Six "Almanac" editions have been broadcast so far, the last on Jan. 27. But the program won't be back on the air until it starts its once-a-week run, Fouhy said in a phone interview from Washington.
With the exception of CBS News' high-rated "60 Minutes," network prime-time newsmagazine programs generally get lower ratings than entertainment series.
But Fouhy emphasized that NBC's bid to win this season's prime-time ratings race played no part in its decision to delay the debut of a weekly "Almanac," which represents NBC News' 11th effort since 1969 to field a newsmagazine series in prime time.
"It was my recommendation (to postpone)," he said. "I went to Larry (Grossman) and said, 'We're not ready.' " He said that he sought and was granted more time to prepare the program for its once-a-week run.
Grossman, in a prepared statement, said that he concurred with Fouhy and recommended postponing the program "because it is critical that the new series have the benefit of a full bank of high-quality, well-produced stories" before it becomes a weekly prime-time program.
Grossman said that during "the next few months," Fouhy, Mudd, the program's staff and its special correspondent, Connie Chung, "will be working full time to build up that essential inventory of compelling stories."
NBC's commitment to "Almanac" "still holds," he added, "and the series will appear on the network's prime-time schedule whenever the news division decides it is ready."
There currently are only two prime-time network news-magazine series on the air--CBS' "60 Minutes," now in its 14th season, and ABC's "20/20," which premiered in June, 1978. Last year, an effort by ABC News to develop a second news series, one tentatively called "Seven Days," ended in failure.
NBC's "Almanac" isn't the only new network news program still in the works facing uncertainty regarding a weekly prime-time home.
CBS News' "West 57th" also has that problem. Like NBC's effort, the series premiered last August. After a six-week trial run, "West 57th" then was taken off CBS' prime-time schedule as had been planned. Armed with a commitment for 13 more programs, the series had been expected to return to the weekly schedule in March.
But CBS executives have refused to announce the date for the resumption of "West 57th," saying only that it will return to the network lineup sometime "in the spring."