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TWC Shelves N.O. Disaster Show

1/12/2006 3:22 AM Eastern

The Weather Channel was scheduled to launch new original series It Could Happen Tomorrow Sunday with a hypothetical scenario of a category-five hurricane destroying New York City.

But the show's pilot episode -- which all but predicted the devastation a powerful hurricane would have on New Orleans months before Hurricane Katrina buried the city underwater in August -- will remain on the shelf for the time being, according to TWC executive vice president and general manager Wonya Lucas.

That pilot show, which was completed in April, will not air as part of the series' run, which will also provide "what if?" scenarios for such other disasters as a volcanic eruption at Mt. Rainier in Washington state and a powerful earthquake in San Francisco.

"Quite frankly, we just think it might look too opportunistic [to put on the air]," TWC senior VP of programming and GM Terry Connelly said. "There may be a way of airing the episode with a lot of discussion around it, with some of the [experts] in the episodes getting to talk about it."

Along with It Could Happen Tomorrow, the network was also expected to bow another long-form series Sunday, Guard Storm Stories, a spinoff of its Storm Stories franchise.

Lucas said the network's move toward long-form programming won't adversely affect its primary focus on current weather conditions. She added that each show will feature a small "weather-framed device" embedded within the picture that will continue to give viewers local weather every 10 minutes beginning at eight minutes after the hour.

"We want to continue to serve that [local weather] constituency, but we also want to make sure that we engage people in the other dimensions of weather," she said. "We also feel like that's part of our mission, as well."

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