I’ve just been told Les Moonves blinked after The CW’s anemic upfront presentation today and finally made a deal to bring back the highest-rated sitcom on The WB. But Reba won’t air until CW’s 2007 midseason schedule. You may remember that, back on April 30th, I wrote that Les had manhandled 20th Century Fox’s show. I was told 20th was shocked to hear the CW didn’t want the sitcom even though, last year, Reba was picked up by the WB for two years. When news broke about the WB/UPN merging to form CW, Reba‘s executive producers informed the cast and crew that Moonves had sent word that he expected the new netlet would honor that deal. So the series’ shooting ended on March 14th with everyone expecting to be back in the fall. Then, in mid-April, the CW execs told 20th they wanted out of the WB deal — the reason being that Moonves didn’t think the show attracted “the desired demographic” the new network wants tuning in. (Translation: no Country-Western yahoos.) Fox said no way, and reneging on that WB deal was going to cost the new CW a mint. At the time, some people believed this might be a negotiating ploy by Moonves to lower Reba‘s license fee and other costs. But the cast was devastated, and the crew had been told to grab any other work that’s offered. What I hear happened is that even after The CW told advertisers today it was only targeting the 18-to-34 demographic, the netlet clinched the deal for Reba, starring the 51-year-old singer/actress. Meanwhile, Reba McEntire hosts the Academy of Country Music Awards live on CW-partner CBS May 23rd.

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