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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 January 2008, 17:39 GMT
NBC to stop producing pilot shows
Michelle Ryan as Bionic Woman
Bionic Woman's future is uncertain after low ratings
US network NBC is to stop making pilot episodes of TV series - a move that could change how new US shows are made.

The networks spend millions of dollars each year turning scripts into single episodes to test audience reaction.

But NBC Universal chief executive Jeff Zucker thinks he can save $50m (25.6m) each year by scrapping them.

"We will still market those scripted series. We are just going to go straight to air with them and cut out the pilots," he said.

The move has partly been prompted by the writers' strike, which has led studios to scale back on new productions because of a lack of scripts.

Soaring costs

The cost of producing a pilot has soared over the last three years from $3m (1.5m) to $7m (3.6m).

Last year NBC commissioned eight new drama series after pilots were produced. The system is supposed to weed out failures.

"I think there were a tremendous number of inefficiencies in Hollywood and it often takes a seismic event to change them, and I think that's what's happened here," Mr Zucker told the Financial Times.

Among the shows dropped by NBC after one series is Journeyman, a time-travel series featuring Scottish star Kevin McKidd.

The future of Bionic Woman - starring former EastEnders actress Michelle Ryan - is uncertain after it suffered low ratings. Only eight episodes were aired before the writers' strike affected production.

NBC says it will still commission one or two pilots a year, but other series will go straight into production. It is not clear whether other studios will follow.

SEE ALSO
Studios 'cut contracts' in strike
15 Jan 08 |  Entertainment
Writers will not picket Grammys
23 Jan 08 |  Entertainment
US success as Bionic Woman debuts
28 Sep 07 |  Entertainment
NBC to give away TV shows online
26 Jan 08 |  Entertainment

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