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TV Bulletin Board (May 23)

Heroes action figures include Mohinder, Sylar and Claire

NBC's fall series premiere dates, announced Friday, include an entire night of Heroes.

The once red-hot, but since cooled-off comic book action series returns on Monday, Sept. 22nd with a one-hour "compilation" special followed by the show's two-hour season premiere. Heroes hasn't been seen since the writers' strike drove a wedge into the networks' prime-time plans.

As anticipated, the fourth-ranked network already has screwed around with a year-long schedule announced earlier this spring. The new sitcom Kath & Kim, co-starring former Saturday Night Live regular Molly Shannon, will shift from Tuesdays to Thursdays, with an Oct. 9 premiere.

NBC also has promoted America's Toughest Jobs to fall after first slating it as a summer series. A five-week Friday night run is scheduled to begin on Sept. 12th. The series executive producers are Lloyd Braun and Gail Berman, formerly the respective entertainment presidents at ABC and Fox.

My Name Is Earl and The Office each will have one-hour season premieres on Thursday, Sept. 25th, followed by that same date's return of ER
for what's been announced as its last season.

30 Rock won't be back until Oct. 30th under the current plan. Other returning series and their announced premiere dates include Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (Sept. 23); Lipstick Jungle (Sept. 24); Chuck (Sept. 29) and Life (Oct. 3).

***Final ratings for the May "sweeps" show Fox easily winning among advertiser-favored 18-to-49-year-olds. But all five major broadcast networks suffered double-digit declines from the previous May.

Fox lost the least viewership in this key demographic, but still had a 10 percent dropoff. Runnerup ABC was down 21 percent, followed by CBS (-13 percent), NBC (-27 percent) and The CW (-15 percent).

The writers' strike obviously didn't help matters. Nor does the ease with which viewers can catch most of their favorite shows on network Web sites. Still, these are discomforting numbers all around.