ABC Shakes Up Schedule With 'Anatomy' Move

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Monday (May 15) night's "Grey's Anatomy" finale left viewers with a cliffhanger: Will Meredith go home with McDreamy or with Finn the Sensitive Vet? In order to find out the answer, fans will have to follow the popular medical melodrama to a new night.

In a move that had long been speculated on, but still caused quite a stir, ABC announced its schedule for next fall on Tuesday morning, a new lineup in which "Anatomy" was shifted from its cushy Sunday evening home behind "Desperate Housewives" to the battleground on Thursdays at 9 p.m. in a slot already occupied by a little procedural called "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation."

"The biggest thing coming into this year, probably as a consideration, was whether or not to move 'Grey's' and I think the decision to move 'Grey's' was really based on two things: One, being able to execute the strategy to build 'Grey's' into the hit that we did and two the strength of our development," says ABC Entertainment President Stephen McPherson. "The good thing was that it would open up a number of launching pads, the challenge of that was that you had to fill those launching pads."

It helped ABC's decision-making process that since landing the coveted post-Super Bowl airing, "Grey's Anatomy" has routinely topped "Desperate Housewives" in the network's coveted demographic of adults 18-49. McPherson figures that between critical acclaim and a devoted audience, "Anatomy" won't have any difficulties holding its own in the competitive berth, which now also includes NBC's heavily hyped new Aaron Sorkin drama "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip."

"I think that if anybody has seen the show lately, if you saw it last night, I think there's certainly not a better show on television," says McPherson (who acknowledged the possibility that other equally fine shows might exist). "We feel that it's a show that deserves a 9:00 time period and it deserves to be on a mantle of the greatest shows on television. We feel that Thursday night is a fantastic time for it. There's been a lot of history of big shows going up against each other and there's plenty of room for both."

Two new dramas will be the obvious beneficiaries. The J.J. Abrams-produced drama "Six Degrees" will air post-"Anatomy" on Thursdays ("It's a show about a new island with three million survivors and that's Manhattan," says McPherson).

"I don't feel it's going to alienate anybody," McPherson predicts. "I think those are different shows -- I developed 'CSI.' It's a great show. It's a very different show than 'Grey's.' I think the two-hour block of 'Grey's' and 'Six Degrees' also for us is incredibly strong and makes for a great night and with the comedies leading into it, it really establishes another strong place for it on the schedule."

And replacing "Anatomy" on Sundays will be the ensemble "Brothers & Sisters," featuring Calista Flockhart. McPherson says that the network never considered moving "Desperate Housewives" and he insists that despite some early complaints that the campy soap had lost some momentum in its second season, the show was still strong.

"I applaud those guys, because I think at the beginning of the year, they stumbled a little bit after the kind of huge, phenomenal first year and really got their bearings again and readjusted and the creative has never been better," raves McPherson.

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