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NBC changes plans, 'Celebrity Cooking Showdown' to air Saturday


By Reality TV World staff, 04/21/2006 

Don't look now, but it appears that after dropping to fourth place in the network ratings race, NBC's once high-flying programmers might actually be learning to respect their viewers and recognize that not needlessly upsetting the few viewers they do have could be a smart idea.

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Less than two years after the network (still fresh off its finish as the 2003-2004 season's top network) alienated reality television viewers by pulling Last Comic Standing 3 with only its finale episode left to air and outright "skipping" an episode of its Next Action Star dud, NBC announced yesterday that it was canceling the final two episodes of Celebrity Cooking Showdown, its heavily promoted week-long event that after premiering to mediocre ratings on Monday, had bombed against American Idol on Tuesday (no shocker there) and remained flatlined on Wednesday.

According to NBC's initial Thursday announcement, Celebrity Cooking Showdown's last two episodes -- a final round showdown that was supposed to air on Thursday night and a Friday night "results show" that would reveal which finalist the judges and home viewers had crowned as the competition's winner -- would not air as originally scheduled but instead be available only on NBC.com. Repeats of Will & Grace and My Name Is Earl filled the Thursday hour while a Deal or No Deal repeat will fill tonight's slot.

Left unclear by the announcement was how the home viewer voting that, according to Celebrity Cooking Showdown host Alan Thicke's previous on-air pronouncements, would determine the competition's winner, would play out. Also left unclear was the fate of the show's same-night repeat broadcasts on NBC Universal's Bravo cable network -- a platform that at minimum, would have seemed to have been a more convenient and logical broadcast outlet for Celebrity Cooking Showdown's final two episodes.

However although the reasons for the change remain unclear, NBC revised its earlier decision later on Thursday, announcing that rather than being available on its NBC.com website, Celebrity Cooking Showdown's last two episodes will now air back-to-back in the Saturday night programming wasteland beginning at 8PM ET/PT. Still left unclear is how viewers will participate in determining the competition's winner given the "results show" will now air immediately after the episode in which finalists Cindy Margolis, Ashley Parker Angel, and outgoing Miss USA Chelsea Cooley -- who will lose her crown in tonight's NBC broadcast of the Miss USA 2006 pageant -- compete in Celebrity Cooking Showdown's finals.

As of early Friday afternoon, Celebrity Cooking Showdown's NBC spokesperson had not responded to a Reality TV World message requesting clarification about the show's new broadcast schedule. Meanwhile, NBC.com's Celebrity Cooking Showdown website currently makes no mention of how the home viewer voting -- originally planned to occur via both NBC.com and wireless phone text messaging -- will factor into the new broadcast schedule. Instead, despite the fact that the fourth episode finals competition has yet to air on either NBC or Bravo, NBC.com bills the Saturday 8PM broadcast as a "special finale rebroadcast" and invites viewers to "see who wins" during the 9PM broadcast.

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