Longer "Life" span; "Lost" back to Wednesday

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - NBC has given a full-season order to its modestly rated detective drama “Life.”

Damian Lewis stars as a detective who returns to his job after serving time for a crime he did not commit.

“Life” launched last fall, but was shut down when Hollywood writers began their 100-day strike in November. It returned this past September, airing for two weeks in the prime slot following “Heroes” on Monday. Then NBC shifted “Life” to Fridays, and its ratings crashed.

Now, “Life” is the tentpole 9 p.m. drama in a new Wednesday crime block. But in its debut outing last week, it ranked fourth among adults 18-49. “Life” did manage to outperform its recent Friday night average, however, and picks up plenty of viewers from time-shifted DVR viewing.

NBC previously gave a full-season pickup to “Knight Rider” and “Kath & Kim.” Although “Kath” has been relatively stable on Thursday nights, “Knight Rider” has fallen sharply since receiving its order, and is being retooled.

Also, ABC is scheduling a two-hour premiere for the Season 5 debut of its Emmy-winning thriller “Lost” on Wednesday, January 21. The premiere will be preceded by a one-hour clip show.

That means “Lost” is returning to its 9 p.m. Wednesday period. The most recent fourth season aired on Thursdays -- first at 9 p.m., then shifting to 10 p.m. after “Grey’s Anatomy” returned to air following the Hollywood writers strike. The new premiere date also is slightly earlier than last season.

ABC has lined up 17 episodes for 2009, which is one more than the show’s now-standard 16-episode tally. The network added an extra hour to compensate for last year, which was cut short because of the strike. Also, Reiko Aylesworth (“24”) is in negotiations for a major recurring role on the drama.

The recently picked-up “Private Practice” currently is in the same slot, and there’s no word yet where it will go once “Lost” returns.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter