- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 16, 2002

NEW YORK (AP) — "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," once the hottest thing on TV, is down to its final lifeline.
The Emmy-winning quiz show and former ratings killer has been left off ABC's fall schedule as the struggling network tries to reinvent itself by adding seven new series.
ABC's plans probably are the most scrutinized because the network sank to third place last season, behind NBC and CBS, and to fourth place in its target demographic of 18-to-49-year-old viewers.
ABC is making changes on every weeknight and will air family-friendly programs for the hour starting at 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, according to network executives.
Susan Lyne, ABC entertainment president, said the network sees an opportunity to begin to rebound following a 23 percent drop in viewership this season.
ABC's new fare includes a weekly series stemming from the "Dinotopia" miniseries; a comedy starring John Ritter as the father of two teen-age daughters; and a drama developed by Ben Affleck that gives viewers a chance to win money.
"The core goal for us is to stop the downward trend in our ratings," Miss Lyne said Tuesday. "We need to stabilize and move the needle a little upward. Nobody is expecting us to jump into first place next year."
Regis Philbin and "Millionaire" will return in special events, probably running several nights in a row, much as the show started two years ago. Its executive producer, Michael Davies, requested this approach.


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