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NBC "un-cancels" 'Last Comic Standing 3' finale, but broadcast plans remain unclear


By Wade Paulsen, 10/08/2004 

Don't look now, but it looks like there's a new flip-flopper out there -- NBC president Jeff Zucker.

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After announcing the cancellation of the finale of NBC's Last Comic Standing 3 via its Internet site yesterday, NBC executives changed their minds today and decided to film a finale for Last Comic Standing 3 after all. But when and where the finale will air remain to be determined, as NBC seems unable to decide what to do next.

According to the Associated Press, an NBC spokesperson announced today that the finale -- which was not even going to be held under NBC's prior plan -- would now take place and be filmed. However, NBC had no comment about an air date or time for the finale, and according to NBC's website, the previously announced special scheduled 90-minute Father of the Pride marathon is still planned to fill the Tuesday night time period.

The Washington Post states that one possible outcome would be to shift the finale to one of NBC's cable networks, presumably Bravo (in place of a repeat Queer Eye for the Straight Guy episode), on Tuesday night. The Last Comic Standing 3 finale might be able to give the network's sagging ratings a boost prior to that evening's premiere of Manhunt: The Search for America's Most Gorgeous Male Model, which has been bumped up a day from its previously planned Wednesday, October 13 at 10PM premiere to a Tuesday, October 12 at 10PM debut.

At this point, NBC's web site for Last Comic Standing 3 merely says to "tune in Tuesday" for the announcement of the winner, while the marquee on the site yesterday that stated that the announcement would be made during the Father of the Pride marathon has quietly slipped away into cyberspace.

Meanwhile, "conspiracy theorists" continue to whisper about NBC's sudden, illogical move to yank an Emmy-nominated reality show from the air with only one episode to run in its current series. One group speculates that, as we explained yesterday, the move is really a ploy to try to increase viewership by children (and hopefully their parents as well) of Father of the Pride, an expensive animated flop that is rated as unsuitable for children but which has been popular with them nonetheless, without appearing to have moved the show into the 8-9 PM "Family Hour.".

Another group, as discussed in the Washington Post, believes that this decision is, in part, a "make-up" for NBC's decision to push another DreamWorks show, the Mark Burnett-produced reality-competition boxing drama The Contender, back to January. In this way of thought, DreamWorks SKG head honcho Jeffrey Katzenberg is upset because Father of the Pride is being deprived of the lead-in from The Contender, and this move is intended to appease him.

We admit that we think Father of the Pride would post anemic numbers even if it was following the strongest show on NBC's fall schedule: Burnett's The Apprentice. We also tend to doubt that Katzenberg is all that unhappy about a decision to air The Contender in the time slot that it was originally planned to occupy. But we digress.

We will report the ultimate air time, date and network decisions concerning the finale of Last Comic Standing as soon as NBC makes up its mind. Even if it flip-flops again.

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