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ABC Unveils '09-'10 Slate at Upfront

ABC is making some big moves in the fall, launching an all-new comedy night and slotting buzz drama "Flash Forward" in the key 8 p.m. Thursday time slot.

Other big plays include a new Mark Burnett reality show, "Shark Tank," Tuesday at 8, as well as the shift of "Ugly Betty" to Friday.

For TVWeek's comprehensive coverage of the upfront presentations, visit the Upfront Navigator page. For ABC’s schedule click here.

At a press conference Tuesday morning, ABC Entertainment President Steve McPherson said two of the network’s big goals were to shore up Wednesday night and to push comedy. Both of those goals are being tackled with a lineup of all new shows on Wednesday, including a block of four new comedies.

He acknowledged that the Wednesday strategy is the network’s “biggest risk,” but ABC hopes to attract viewers with a group of shows that feature well known stars, including Courteney Cox, Ed O’Neil, Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton.

“We have some big names in each of the shows,” he said. “We’ll capitalize.”

ABC is also bringing back the comedies “Scrubs” and “Better Off Ted,” but it thought the new shows were more compatible as a block.

Mr. McPherson confirmed that Zach Braff will appear in at least six episodes of “Scrubs” and that those episodes will likely be among its first dozen.

He thought that another sitcom, “The New Adventures of Old Christine” was being picked up by CBS. If it’s not, “we’re going to be happy to have it.”

Mr. McPherson also said the network was putting its “most buzzworthy show,” “Flash Forward,” on Thursdays with “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice.”

He added that “In the Box,” a show developed by “Grey’s Anatomy’s” Shonda Rhimes, would get another look after pilot season ended.

“It had some issues,” he said. “We were surprised by the way screening audiences reacted to it. The show needs work,” he said. Mr. McPherson noted the network and Ms. Rhimes agreed there was no need to rush to make the changes during the summer.

As for “Grey’s,” Mr. McPherson said that both Katherine Heigl and T.R. Knight—whose characters were close to death in the season finale—have been signed for another season. He didn’t say whether they’ll both actually appear on the show.

Mr. McPherson said ABC has not yet decided where the final season of “Lost” will fit in the schedule.

“It will be an asset for us to move around,” he said.

Among the announcements ABC had at the upfronts in New York: new shows including "Cougar Town," "The Deep End" and "Eastwick."

New fall and midseason series also include “Flash Forward,” “The Forgotten,” “Hank,” “Happy Town,” “The Middle,” “Modern Family,” “Shark Tank” and “V,” the company said in a statement.
The network also said “Better Off Ted,” “Castle,” “Scrubs” and “True Beauty” will join previously announced returning series “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” “The Bachelor,” “Brothers & Sisters,” “Dancing With the Stars,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Lost,” “Private Practice,” “Supernanny,” “Ugly Betty,” “Wife Swap” and “20/20.” “Saturday Night College Football” also will return.

(Editor: Baumann. Updated 11:30 a.m. to add McPherson comment throughout.)

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