Lisa de Moraes
Lisa de Moraes
The TV Column

NBC lays in plans to try to stay No. 1 after NFL season ends

D Dipasupil/GETTY IMAGES FOR BET - In “Ready for Love,” divorced former basketball wife Eva Longoria handpicks three “successful and handsome men who are committed to finding the right woman” and offers them the chance of finding “their soul mate” from a bevy of beauties selected by “the three best matchmakers in the world,” beginning a romantic journey that combines sports-like competition with “The Bachelor”- like hot-tubbing and canoodling. Giuliana and Bill Rancic will host.

NBC, which has surprised the TV industry — including its own executives — by jumping from fourth place to first in the ratings this fall, on Tuesday unveiled its post-football plans to stay there.

Headlining Tuesday’s announcement was that the network will replace ratings-behemoth football on Sundays with dating “reality” series “Ready for Love” once the NFL’s regular season is over.

More from Lisa de Moraes

Pulitzer Prize winner, Peabody recipient, Medal of Freedom honoree -- Lisa de Moraes is none of these, but she is an authority on the bad direction, over-acting, and muddled plot lines being played out in the TV industry's executive suites.

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(NBC/JORDIN ALTHAUS/NBC) - Joel McHale as Jeff, Yvette Nicole Brown as Shirley in “Community,” which returns in February.

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But the new show won’t premiere until March 31, airing 8 to 10 p.m. each Sunday. (FYI, ABC’s “The Bachelor” typically returns for its spring season in the first week of January, on Monday nights.)

In “Ready for Love,” divorced former basketball wife Eva Longoria handpicks three “successful and handsome men who are committed to finding the right woman” and offers them the chance of finding “their soul mate” from a bevy of beauties selected by “the three best matchmakers in the world,” beginning a romantic journey that combines sportslike competition with “Bachelor”-like hot-tubbing and canoodling. Giuliana and Bill Rancic will host.

Each week, the contestants will be whittled down — how romantic — until the dramatic finale, when it’s down to the three men and three women to decide whether they’ll get engaged, married “or simply live happily ever after,” NBC said.

Wait — isn’t getting engaged and/or married the “happily ever after” gag?

Weeks before the debut of “Love” on March 31, “The Celebrity Apprentice” starts its all-star edition, airing Sundays from 9 to 11 p.m., for four weeks, until it shrinks down to a one-hour show to coincide with the launch of “Love.”

NBC’s singing competition “The Voice” — the other big piece of the network’s fourth-quarter success — is returning for a spring round on Monday and Tuesday nights and will be followed on Mondays by “Revolution,” which is one of this season’s most successful new-series launches.

But “The Voice” isn’t coming back until March 25 — and with two of its celebrity judges, Christina Aguilera and CeeLo Green, taking sabbaticals and being replaced by Usher and Shakira.

This timing is very good news for Fox’s “American Idol: Nicki Minaj,” which debuts Jan. 16.

Warming up “The Voice’s” Monday time slot until the singing show comes back: an overhauled “The Biggest Loser,” with returning star Jillian Michaels. “TBL” will premiere on Sunday, Jan. 6, then move to Monday nights and stay there until “The Voice” clocks in.

Meanwhile, warming up “Revolution’s” time slot: rich-folks murder mystery “Deception,” starting Jan. 7.

NBC’s highly hyped but ultimately non-smash “Smash” is coming back on Tuesdays, starting Feb. 5, to air at 10 p.m., after “The Voice,” as it did in the spring.

Several “Smash” cast members have been tossed, for which we are thankful. And Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson has been added to the cast, NBC reminded us Tuesday.

Warming up “The Voice’s” Tuesday time slot until the singing show returns? “Betty White’s Off Their Rockers,” starting Jan. 8.

Most of the chatter about NBC’s new schedule, at least among TV critics, will focus on “Community” coming back to its old Thursday 8 p.m. berth, starting Feb. 7, instead of being sent to the wasteland of Friday nights, as had been its intention, NBC told advertisers back in May, when it announced its plans for this TV season.

And the chatter will be snarky, instead of grateful — along the lines of: “COMMUNITY, a show that once aired on American television, returns to NBC Feb. 7” (Time’s James Poniewozik), and “OK, so it IS the apocalypse, if NBC gave Community a return date” (TVLine.com’s Matt Mitovich).

Some might suggest that NBC never intended to air “Community” on Fridays and that it was just a cynical way of bringing NBC more cash at the upfront market. Not us, of course — but others.

But long before “Community” comes back, new White House comedy “1600 Penn” moves into the Thursday 9:30 p.m. half-hour. It’s about a wild and crazy family that just happens to be the first family. It debuts Jan. 10 — a week and a half before Inauguration Day.

And “Parks and Recreation” moves up one hour on the Thursday schedule, to 8:30 p.m., starting Jan. 17.

After Sandy

TV networks continued to stagger back to “normal” in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, albeit in a subdued manner.

On Tuesday morning, “Today” Supreme Co-Host Matt Lauer announced that the show’s annual Halloween festivities, in which the “Today” gang dresses in ridiculous costumes, had been scrubbed.

“Good Morning America,” which has been taking “Today” in the ratings and seemed intent on out-Halloweening “Today” this year with a “Ghoul Morning America” Halloween “super party,” also bailed in the name of good taste.

Meanwhile, ABC late-night host Jimmy Kimmel — who, instead of taping his show from Hollywood like God intended, had come to Brooklyn for a week of episodes from the Brooklyn Academy of Music, only to have to pull the plug on Monday’s show — tweeted Tuesday morning that “unless something weird happens, tonight’s show in #Brooklyn is ON like fleece on Gov Christie.”

And NBC’s “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon,” which aired Monday without an audience “just to be safe,” as Fallon tweeted, was opening its doors to fans Tuesday, a show rep confirmed.

Meanwhile, Comedy Central was sticking with plans to pull faux newscasts “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” for a second night, and CBS had reported that David Letterman would be audience-less for shows both Monday and Tuesday.

Sandy switch for ‘Live’

Deciding to play it somber on Halloween, “Live With Kelly and Michael” announced late Tuesday that instead of the traditional buffoonery, Wednesday’s show would be all about interviewing “ABC World News” anchor Diane Sawyer, who has been covering the Sandy devastation.

Halloween has been moved to Monday, “Live” announced.

To read previous columns by Lisa de Moraes, go to washingtonpost.com/tvblog.

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