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NBC favors dramas in new lineup

Tuesday, May 18, 1999

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

As expected, "Homicide: Life on the Street" arrived D.O.A. when NBC announced its new fall lineup yesterday. "Caroline in the City" also has been swept aside, and "NewsRadio" will no longer broadcast weekly wackiness.

In the place of these shows and other lower- profile cancellations ("Working," "Everything's Relative," etc.), NBC plans to add five new dramas and only two new sitcoms, a shift from years past when the network was more heavily invested in comedy series.

Another change: NBC seems to be courting more male viewers, relegating it's female-lead shows to an hour Monday and Friday night.

Overall, NBC's schedule emphasizes stability. Although "Veronica's Closet" gets bumped out of the undeserved Thursday slot where it's languished for two seasons and "Will & Grace" moves to Tuesday to make way for the return of the mediocre "Jesse," there aren't many other time slot changes for returning series.

Alas, there are still five editions of "Dateline NBC" airing each week -- about four too many.

As networks do every year, NBC already has ordered several replacement series for midseason, including "M.Y.O.B." (edgy comedy about a teen runaway bonding with her aunt), "The Others" (drama about people with a connection to the spirit world; cast includes 1994 Carnegie Mellon University graduate Gabriel Macht) and two animated comedies, "Sammy" (David Spade's take on life as a twentysomething star who has strained relationships with his family) and "Bob, the Devil and God" (Detroit autoworker makes deals with devil and God; voices of James Garner, Robert Downey Jr., French Stewart and Laurie Metcalf).

Big event miniseries for the 1999-2000 television season will include the four-hour productions "Jason and the Argonauts," "Leprechauns," "Sinkhole" (from the producer of "Asteroid") and heaven help us after the recent "Noah's Ark" fiasco, "Mary and Jesus," a "unique perspective on the life of the Virgin Mary." NBC also has a 10-hour fantasy miniseries, "The 10th Kingdom," in the works.

Here's the fall schedule and descriptions of new programs:


7 p.m. "Dateline NBC"

8 p.m. "Third Watch" -- "ER" executive producer John Wells unveils this soapy drama about the lives of New York City cops, firefighters and paramedics who work from 3 p.m. to midnight. The show features a couple cast members from Wells' 1998 flop, "Trinity," Kim Raver and Bobby Cannavale. Other stars include Michael Boatman ("China Beach"), Jason Wiles ("Beverly Hills, 90210") and Eddie Ciberian ("Sunset Beach").

9 p.m. "NBC Sunday Night Movie"


8 p.m. "Suddenly Susan"

8:30 p.m. "Veronica's Closet"

9 p.m. "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" -- Originally titled "Sex Crimes," this spin-off looks at a more specific type of case. Dann Florek stars as his "Law & Order" character, Capt. Donald Cragen, alongside Mariska Hargitay and Chris Meloni.

10 p.m. "Dateline NBC"


8 p.m. "3rd Rock From the Sun"

8:30 p.m. "The Mike O'Malley Show" -- Comedian O'Malley stars as a 30-year-old who decides it's time to get a life and cut out the excessive partying and string of non-committal relationships. The pilot was directed by Pittsburgh native James Widdoes.

9 p.m. "Just Shoot Me"

9:30 p.m. "Will & Grace"

10 p.m. "Dateline NBC


8 p.m. "Dateline NBC"

9 p.m. "The West Wing" -- "Sports Night" creator Aaron Sorkin wrote the pilot for this drama about life inside The White House (he also wrote the film "The American President"), while "ER's" John Wells again sits in the executive producer chair. Martin Sheen plays the president with Rob Lowe as a deputy communications director. John Spencer ("L.A. Law") plays the chief of staff and Moira Kelly ("To Have and To Hold") stars as a political consultant. But after this past year, is there anything all that dramatic that can happen to fictional characters that didn't happen in real life?

10 p.m. "Law & Order"


8 p.m. "Friends"

8:30 p.m. "Jesse"

9 p.m. "Frasier"

9:30 p.m. "Stark Raving Mad" -- Steven Levitan, creator of NBC's "Just Shoot Me," landed this plum time slot with a sitcom about a nutty horror book author (Tony Shalhoub) and his uptight young agent (Neil Patrick Harris). Any similarities to Stephen King are purely intentional.

10 p.m. "ER"


8 p.m. "Providence"

9 p.m. "Dateline NBC"

10 p.m. "Cold Feet" -- Women tuned in for "Providence," so NBC decided to make Friday a female-friendly theme night, displacing "Homicide" for this comedy-drama about three couples. One pair just started dating (played by David Sutcliffe and Jean Louisa Kelly), another pair just found out the wife is pregnant (William Keane and "Remember WENN's" Dina Spybey) and the final twosome just welcomed a baby into the world. Awww ... It's based on a British series.


8 p.m. "Freaks and Geeks" -- NBC's last major effort to woo teens, "Malibu Shores," flopped in this same time slot. Oh well, they'll give it another try with this one-hour comedy about high school outcasts circa 1980. The cast is full of newcomers (anyone heard of John Daley, Linda Cardellini or Samm Levine?), but it's executive produced by Judd Apatow ("The Larry Sanders Show").

9 p.m. "The Pretender"

10 p.m. "Profiler"

For more TV news, go to www.post-gazette.com/tv

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