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ABC, WB bank on laughs for fall

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

ABC will go for laughs this fall, adding four new comedies to its lineup, giving the alphabet network a total of 10 sitcoms, the most on any network this fall and the most on ABC in four years.

"We decided to double down on comedy," said Lloyd Braun, ABC Entertainment Television Group chairman, at a press conference yesterday. "We've found our comedy voice here while other networks have struggled over the past few years."

A key component of ABC's schedule was the return of the branded Friday night comedy block, "TGIF."

While "The Practice" returns for another season, "Miracles," "Lost at Home," "Regular Joe" and "Veritas: The Quest" are among the shows that didn't make the cut.

"The Wonderful World of Disney" bounces from Sunday to Saturday and takes a retooled "Dragnet" (now called "L.A. Dragnet") with it. After football season ends, ABC's movie night relocates to Monday.

"Whose Line Is It Anyway" and "The Drew Carey Show" will have original episodes this summer and return at some point next season.

Bob Guiney, a contestant on "The Bachelorette," will be the new "Bachelor" this fall. ABC will broadcast four hours chronicling the marriage of "Bachelorette" stars Trista Rehn and Ryan Sutter.

After almost overtaking ABC's schedule this past winter, only two reality shows made it on the fall schedule.

"Other than the established franchises, they don't sell very well," Braun said. "And many of these shows don't fit our image. ... It's a potent weapon when used the right way to turbo-charge the schedule, but we have to be careful that it doesn't become the dominant force on our schedule."

Here's ABC's fall schedule, with new series in bold:

Sunday

7 p.m.: "America's Funniest Home Videos."

8 p.m.: "10-8" -- A Brooklyn bad boy (Danny Nucci) becomes a deputy sheriff trainee in Los Angeles, and he has a tough training officer (Ernie Hudson) breathing down his neck. Scott William Winters ("Oz") also stars.

9 p.m.: "Alias."

10 p.m.: "The Practice."

Monday

8 p.m.: "Primetime Monday."

9 p.m.: "Monday Night Football."

Tuesday

8 p.m.: "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter."

8:30 p.m.: "I'm With Her" -- Writer Chris Henchy, husband of actress Brooke Shields, created this comedy about a regular guy (David Sutcliffe) who falls in love with a movie star (Teri Polo).

9 p.m.: "According to Jim."

9:30 p.m.: "Less Than Perfect."

10 p.m.: "NYPD Blue."

Wednesday

8 p.m.: "My Wife and Kids."

8:30 p.m. "It's All Relative" -- He (Reid Scott) is the son of Irish-Catholic parents. She (Maggie Lawson) is the daughter of two gay men. When their families meet after the lovebirds get engaged, things don't go well. (Think: "The Birdcage.")

9 p.m.: "The Bachelor."

10 p.m.: "Karen Sisco" -- Based on the Jennifer Lopez character in the film "Out of Sight," which itself was based on the Elmore Leonard novel, Carla Gugino ("Spy Kids") stars as a U.S. marshal in Miami. Robert Forster ("Jackie Brown") plays Sisco's father.

Thursday

8 p.m.: "Threat Matrix" -- John Kilmer (Jamie Denton) heads an elite task force of the Homeland Security Agency, attempting to thwart terrorist attacks. Kelly Rutherford ("Homefront"), Melora Walters and Mahershalalhashbaz Ali also star.

9 p.m.: "Extreme Makeover."

10 p.m.: "Primetime Thursday."

Friday

8 p.m.: "George Lopez."

8:30 p.m. "Back to Kansas" -- Tom (Breckin Meyer, "Road Trip") and Susan (Meredith Monroe, "Dawson's Creek") move from New York City to Kansas to be closer to her family, but Tom is unnerved by the quirky Midwestern clan.

9 p.m.: "Hope & Faith" -- Faith (Kelly Ripa), a soap star, finds herself unemployed and moves in with her sister, Hope (Faith Ford), and Hope's family -- husband and three kids included.

9:30 p.m. "Life with Bonnie."

10 p.m.: "20/20."

Saturday

8 p.m. "The Wonderful World of Disney."

10 p.m. "L.A. Dragnet."

Midseason

Midseason series ordered are:

"Line of Fire" -- A drama about battles between the FBI and an organized crime family as seen from both sides. Leslie Bibb ("Popular"), Jeffrey Sams ("Cupid"), Leslie Hope ("24") and David Paymer star.

"Stephen King's Kingdom Hospital" -- Based on a Danish miniseries, this story of a haunted hospital will air at 9 p.m. Thursdays beginning in January. King describes it as "ER" meets "The Shining." No casting announced.

The WB

The frog network focuses on comedy on Thursdays and Fridays in its new schedule. And "Smallville" flies from 9 p.m. Tuesdays to 8 p.m. Wednesdays.

"Black Sash," "Do Over," "Family Affair," "Greetings from Tucson," "On the Spot" and "Sabrina, The Teenage Witch" were canceled.

Here's The WB's fall schedule, with new series in bold:

Sunday

5 p.m. "Fearless" (rerun from week prior)

6 p.m. "Everwood" (rerun from week prior)

7 p.m. "Smallville: Beginnings" (reruns from first two seasons)

8 p.m.: "Charmed."

9 p.m.: "Tarzan and Jane" -- Calvin Klein underwear model Travis Fimmel stars as Tarzan, who is returned to New York from Africa against his will by his wealthy uncle (Mitch Pileggi), the CEO of Greystoke Industries. Tarzan escapes into the city and encounters Jane (Sarah Wayne Callies), an NYPD detective.

Monday

8 p.m.: "7th Heaven."

9 p.m.: "Everwood."

Tuesday

8 p.m.: "Gilmore Girls."

9 p.m.: "Fearless" -- Young agents in the FBI's Special Investigations Unit fight crime and are led by Gaia (Rachel Leigh Cook), who was born with a birth defect that makes her lack the instinct for fear. Eric Balfour ("Veritas"), Ian Somerhalder ("Young Americans") and Bianca Lawson ("Dawson's Creek") also star.

Wednesday

8 p.m.: "Smallville."

9 p.m.: "Angel."

Thursday

8 p.m.: "Steve Harvey's Big Time" -- The comedian returns to The WB in this talk/variety hybrid.

8:30 p.m.: "JKX: The Jamie Kennedy Experiment."

9 p.m.: "What I Like About You."

9:30 p.m.: "Run of the House" -- Mom and Dad move to Arizona, leaving their older children (Joseph Lawrence, "American Dreams"; Kyle Howard, "Grosse Pointe") to care for 15-year-old Brooke (Margo Harshman, "Even Stevens").

Friday

8 p.m.: "Reba."

8:30 p.m. "Like Family" -- Two families -- one black, one white -- share the same house. Holly Robinson Peete and Amy Yasbeck head up the two families.

9 p.m.: "Grounded for Life."

9:30 p.m. "All About the Andersons" -- Anthony Anderson ("Barbershop") plays a struggling actor and single father whose parents (Roz Ryan, John Amos) want him to give up on acting and work in the family barbershop/beauty salon.

Midseason

Along with second editions of "High School Reunion" and "The Surreal Life," midseason series ordered are:

"One Tree Hill" -- Chad Michael Murray ("Dawson's Creek," "The Lone Ranger") stars with newcomer James Lafferty as teenagers who share a secret past: They have the same father.

Untitled "Gilmore Girls" spin-off -- Jess Mariano (Milo Ventimiglia) tries to get to know his long-lost father (Rob Estes).

"Make My Day" -- A reality show follows one unsuspecting person on a wild day.

"The Help" -- The creator of "Married... With Children" looks at life among the servants who work for a wealthy family. Antonio Sabato Jr. ("Melrose Place") and Mindy Cohn ("The Facts of Life") are among the stars.

"The Mayor" -- An 18-year-old (Ben Feldman) gets elected mayor of a small town in this sitcom.


You can reach Rob Owen at rowen@post-gazette.com. Post questions or comments to www.post-gazette.com/tv under TV Forum.

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