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May 13, 2002  •  Post A Comment

ABC adding 7 shows, canceling ‘Spin City,’ ‘Philly’ and ‘Dharma’

ABC is set to announce its fall schedule to advertisers Tuesday morning in New York, possibly adding seven new series (three comedies and four dramas) for fall 2002 — somewhat fewer than originally anticipated. However, ABC is said by talent agency sources to be possibly holding a similar number of scripted and reality series candidates for staggered midseason debuts throughout its 2002-03 prime-time calendar.

On the comedy side of the ledger, talent agency sources say ABC is planning a major revamping of its ailing Tuesday night lineup. In a bold move, ABC is planting incoming freshman sitcom “8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter” in the opening 8 p.m. (ET) frame, followed by the 8:30 p.m. slotting of Jim Belushi-led “According to Jim,” which is moving from its protected 8:30 p.m. Wednesday slot (out of hit “My Wife and Kids”).

Filling out the 9 p.m.-to-10 p.m. Tuesday hour is the new Bonnie Hunt-led sitcom “Life With Bonnie” and the Terri Minsky-penned “Less Than Perfect.” Steven Bochco’s “NYPD Blue,” under the scenario, would start an hour later — 10 p.m. Tuesday — effectively leaving speculation open that his companion “Philly” drama is being dropped from that time slot after this season. All of the scheduling moves would mean that sitcoms “Dharma & Greg” and “Spin City” are canceled, which had been speculated heading into the end of their original episodes on April 30. “The Job” was also absent from the the schedule.

On Wednesday, the well-received midseason sitcom “George Lopez Show” is expected to be the next sitcom nurtured by a “My Wife and Kids'” lead-in, taking “According to Jim’s” current 8:30 p.m. slot. “The Bachelor,” a breakout midseason romance/reality series for ABC last month, will fill in — for at least a month and a half — for the 9 p.m. Wednesday hour as lead-in to the new HMO-based medical drama “Meds” (formerly “The Oath”) at 10 p.m. Speaking of Wednesday, “The Drew Carey Show” and “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” are expected to be paired in the 8 p.m.-to-9 p.m. Monday time slots leading into the 9 p.m. start of “Monday Night Football” in the fall.

Once football ends in late December, ABC is scheduling Dick Wolf’s revival of “Dragnet” in the 9 p.m. hour, followed by the Skeet Ulrich-led spiritual drama “Miracles” at 10 p.m. for midseason runs.

New dramas will also figure heavily into ABC’s Thursday and Friday lineups. In what would be an unexpected move, talent agency sources say ABC is going to accelerate “Dinotopia’s” previously slated midseason start to a fall 2002 debut in the 8 p.m. Thursday slot. Sources said ABC was particularly buoyed into making the move after seeing part one of the “Dinotopia” miniseries debut to a handsome 16.4 million total viewers and 5.8 rating/14 share average in adults 18 to 49 last Sunday, according to preliminary Nielsen Media Research fast national data.

Coming out of “Dinotopia” is another potential 9 p.m. Thursday surprise in the Ben Affleck- and Sean Bailey-penned “Push, Nevada,” a personal favorite of ABC Entertainment Television Group Chairman Lloyd Braun when he came out of screenings last week. Both dramas would lead into the currently scheduled 10 p.m. run of newsmagazine “PrimeTime Live.”

Friday night is set to lead off with “America’s Favorite Home Videos,” with ABC Entertainment President Susan Lyne’s personal favorite — the back-in-time high school drama “That Was Then” — getting the 9 p.m. time slot. ABC’s long-running “20/20” will return in the 10 p.m. Friday time slot — which it once surrendered briefly to “Once and Again” last fall.

Meanwhile, ABC’s Saturday night movie showcase will remain in place next fall. Ditto for the Sunday lineup, which will again feature a 7 p.m.-to-9 p.m. “Wonderful World of Disney” movie showcase, followed by “Alias” and “The Practice.”

Getting midseason orders are the untitled Michael Jacobs comedy and the father-and-son archaeology show “Veritas.” Also, ABC has already made a 15-episode commitment to Stephen King’s “The Kingdom.” Other potential pickups said to be in the offing are the sitcom adaptation of “Legally Blonde” and comedies “Regular Joe,” John Ridley’s multiethnic “I Got You” and the detective spoof “The Johnny Chronicles.” Other dramas still said to be in consideration for midseason are “Capitol City,” “Nancy Drew” and “Astronauts.” The last two dramas are also slated for two-hour back-door pilot movie presentations.

ABC’s fall 2002 schedule follows:


8 p.m. “The Drew Carey Show” **

8:30 p.m. “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” **

9 p.m. “Monday Night Football”


8 p.m. “8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter” *

8:30 p.m. “According to Jim” **

9 p.m. “Life With Bonnie” *

9:30 p.m. “Less Than Perfect” *

10 p.m. “NYPD Blue” **


8 p.m. “My Wife and Kids”

8:30 p.m. “The George Lopez Show” **

9 p.m. “The Bachelor” **

10 p.m. “Meds” *


8 p.m. “Dinotopia” *

9 p.m. “Push, Nevada” *

10 p.m. “PrimeTime Live”


8 p.m. “America’s Funniest Home Videos” **

9 p.m. “That Was Then” *

10 p.m. “20/20”


8-11 p.m. ABC Big Picture Show


7 p.m. “Wonderful World of Disney”

9 p.m. “Alias”

10 p.m. “The Practice”

* new show

** new time period

‘Fastlane’ may be on fast track for Fox Sunday slot: With aging dramas “Ally McBeal” and “The X-Files” finishing their series runs this month, Fox is said by talent agency and studio sources to be ordering a half-dozen new dramas for its fall 2002 and midseason prime-time lineups. Fox, which will not announce its 2002-03 season schedule in New York until Thursday, is also said to be looking to order four to five comedies.

One of the most interesting scenarios, say sources, has Fox actually considering slotting “Fastlane” — described as a “sexy, super-charged” version of the movie “The Fast and the Furious” — for “The X-Files'” soon-to-be vacated 9 p.m. Sunday time slot.

Although Fox’s Sunday closing hour has been closely aligned with sci-fi, Fox is now said to be seriously considering placing Joss Whedon’s highly anticipated space drama “Firefly” and the revival of “Time Tunnel” on midseason back orders to make room for “Fastlane” on Sundays.

On Thursday night, where Fox is looking to grab from the large pool of available younger viewers, the network is said to be picking up the TV adaptation of “Save the Last Dance” and “Septuplets,” an unusual exploration of seven 16-year-old siblings living in their family’s hotel. However, other sources say Fox is weighing picking up only one of the aforementioned dramas.

Among the other fall 2002 drama pickups, David Kelley’s “Girls Club” legal drama is said to be a “lock” for 9 p.m. Monday (in place of his “Ally McBeal”), coming out of Mr. Kelley’s “Boston Public” airing in the 8 p.m. time slot.

Some other interesting scenarios are also shaping in the comedy genre, where Fox has had a rich harvest in recent years. “Cedric Presents,” featuring Cedric the Entertainer, is said to be a fall order and a strong candidate for a 9:30 p.m. Wednesday lead-out from “Bernie Mac.”

Meanwhile, Fox is also said to be ordering blue-collar family comedy “The Grubbs” and the Cold War-era sitcom “Oliver Beene,” which is said by one talent agency source to be a “personal favorite” of Fox Television Entertainment Group Chairman Sandy Grushow.

Possible fall or midseason sitcom candidates for pickup are “The Pitts” and the untitled Ricky Blitt slacker project. Talent agency speculation is that “Grounded for Life,” once on the “bubble” for pickup, now has a better than 50 percent chance of returning to Fox’s schedule. However, sources say modestly rated midseason players “Andy Richter Controls the Universe” and “Greg the Bunny,” as well as 2-year-old family sitcom “Titus,” are among comedies still riding the fence toward fall pickups.

A spokesman for Fox said the network has no comment on speculation about the network’s pending fall 2002 schedule announcement.

WB firms up fall schedule: The WB is continuing its 2-year-old focus on launching comedies, picking up four ne
w sitcoms and making Thursday an all-laughs night for its fall 2002 prime-time schedule, said a spokesman for The WB, confirming what until now has been talent agency speculation. Also, The WB will be announcing the pickup of two fall dramas at its upfront presentation Tuesday in New York.

As ad buyers and agents had predicted, the highly touted family drama “Everwood” will be getting the 9 p.m. Monday hour slot, leading out of the broadly rated “7th Heaven.” On Wednesday, “Dawson’s Creek” is staying put at 8 p.m., while the Batgirl-led “Birds of Prey” will get the lead-out 9 p.m. time slot.

As for Thursdays, The WB is going all-comedy, with incoming revival series “Family Affair” and the back-in-time high school sitcom “Do Over” opening the 8 p.m. hour as lead-ins to “The Jamie Kennedy Experiment” and “Off Centre,” which move from their Sunday berths after this season.

For Friday nights, The WB is making a big bet on Nickelodeon star Amanda Bynes opening the night in “What I Like About You” at 8 p.m., leading in to the established but aging “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.” Meanwhile, “Reba,” which established a 9 p.m. Friday beachhead this season, will lead into to the new comedy “Greetings From Tucson,” the new Latino comedy. Getting pink slips were freshman Friday comedies “Raising Dad” and “Maybe It’s Me.”

On Sunday nights, repeat runs of “Gilmore Girls,” dubbed “Gilmore Beginnings,” will open in the 7 p.m.-to-8 p.m. block, with “Charmed” (moving from Thursday) and “Angel” (moving from Monday) closing the 8 p.m.-to-10 p.m. frames.

The soon-to-be launched 5 p.m.-to-7 p.m. transitional block will include second airings of “Smallville” and “Everwood.”

The WB is also said by sources to be placing a midseason order for “The O’Keefes,” a family drama about home-schooled children who end up feeling like fish out of water when they attend a public school.

The WB’s fall 2002 schedule follows:


8 p.m. “7th Heaven”

9 p.m. “Everwood”*


8 p.m. “Gilmore Girls”

9 p.m. “Smallville”


8 p.m. “Dawson’s Creek”

9 p.m. “Birds of Prey”*


8 p.m. “Family Affair”*

8:30 p.m. “Do Over”*

9 p.m. “The Jamie Kennedy Experiment”**

9:30-10 p.m. “Off Centre”**


8 p.m. “What I Like About You”

8:30 p.m. “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch”**

9 p.m. “Reba”

9:30 p.m. “Greetings From Tucson”*


7 p.m. “Gilmore Beginnings”**

8 p.m. “Charmed”**

9 p.m. “Angel”

* new show

** new time period

CBS to confirm pickups this week: CBS, holding its edge this season in total viewers and the adults 25 to 54 demo, is said by talent agencies to have picked up five dramas and two sitcoms for its fall 2002 schedule. Set to announce its schedule on Wednesday in New York, CBS is also said to still be tossing some scheduling scenarios for its expected big gun, spinoff “CSI: Miami.”

There’s been much speculation about what CBS will do on Thursday night. According to some prognosticators, CBS could be looking for the 8 p.m. (ET) run of “Survivor” to be followed by “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” at 9 p.m, and then “CSI Miami” at 10 p.m. The long-running “ER” on NBC could be vulnerable, and CBS is eager to cash in with relatively young demos that night to attract movie marketers.

However, some talent agency sources speculate that “CSI: Miami” could take over the 10 p.m. Monday hour in place of the sagging “Family Law” to solidify CBS’s winning position in adults 18 to 49 on the night. One other scenario being floated by sources is that “CSI: Miami” could fill the 9 p.m. Friday time slot as a lead-in springboard for the Michael Mann-produced “Metro” cop drama, which is said by sources to have been given a fall order.

In the meantime, CBS’s program development, which is beginning to get some kudos from Hollywood executives, includes the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced FBI drama “Without a Trace,” John Wells-produced “Presidio Med,” the Oliver Platt-led “Queen Supreme” and the David Koepp-penned (“Spider-man”) “Hack” are said to be fall pickups. If Mr. Bruckheimer’s “Without a Trace” indeed makes the schedule, it would mark the noted film producer’s fourth series placed on CBS (with “CSI,” “CSI: Miami” and “The Amazing Race.”)

On the comedy side of the ledger, CBS is said to have made fall orders for “Bram & Alice,” from Christopher Lloyd and Joe Keenan; and the blue-collar family comedy “Still Standing.” There was no firm word on where CBS would schedule a second night of comedy outside of its entrenched 8 p.m.-to-10 p.m. Monday rotation. Nevertheless, agency sources think midseason sitcom hit “Baby Bob” could also be used a potential pairing with a new comedy on another night (outside of Monday).

NBC picks up five shows, moves others: Reflecting few weaknesses in its top-ranked prime-time lineup, NBC is picking up only five new shows — three sitcoms and two dramas — for fall 2002. In a scheduling presentation NBC will make to advertisers this afternoon in New York, the Peacock Network will be leaving its Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday night lineups intact.

The biggest changes take place on Tuesday, with the Kelsey Grammer-produced “In-Laws” leading off the night at 8 p.m. (ET). Moving from its 9:30 p.m. Thursday time slot to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday is “Just Shoot Me,” with “Frasier” remaining the 9 p.m. Tuesday anchor spot. “Hidden Hills,” the married-couple-in-the-burbs comedy from former WB programming chief Susanne Daniels’ production company Primarily Entertainment and NBC Studios, is taking the 9:30 p.m. Tuesday slot, leading into the normally scheduled run of “Dateline” in the 10 p.m. hour.

“Scrubs” is being promoted from 9:30 p.m. Tuesday into the coveted but cursed 8:30 p.m. Thursday lead-out time slot from “Friends.” It could mean that previous time slot occupant “Leap of Faith” has being pink-slipped. “Will & Grace” remains at 9 p.m. Thursday, with show runners Max Mutchnick and David Kohan getting the lead-out 9:30 p.m. slot for the talk show parody “Good Morning, Miami.”

Sunday night has also been revamped, with “Dateline” starting the evening at 7 p.m. followed by the Dick Clark-inspired retro drama “American Dreamers” at 8 p.m. Dick Wolf’s “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” holds onto the 9 p.m. hour, followed by the L.A.-based crime/rescue drama “Boomtown” to close out the evening at 10 p.m.

Getting midseason pickups are the Jonathan Grof-penned “It’s Not About Me,” the Washington-based senatorial drama “Mister Sterling” and the drug trafficking drama “Kingpin,” the last of which is being pegged for a limited run.

During a conference call today, Jeff Zucker, president of NBC Entertainment, also loosely confirmed unofficial backup status for the Julia Louis-Dreyfus-led comedy “Watching Ellie,” which had a modestly rated midseason run at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday starting last February. He said that “Ellie,” executive produced and written by Brad Hall (Ms. Louis-Dreyfus’ husband), will be coming back on an unspecified date for a limited episodic run — but with some tweaking.

On the subject of limited runs, Mr. Zucker said that he also envisions the much-buzzed-about drug trafficking drama “King Pin” having “epic qualities,” making it more of an event series.

Although not officially ordered for midseason, Mr. Zucker said the gothic drama “Arthur” and sitcoms “Life at Five Feet” and “AUSA” are among a “group of shows to be watched” that are still in the development process.

NBC’s fall 2002 schedule follows:


8 p.m. “Fear Factor”

9 p.m. “Third Watch”

10 p.m. “Crossing Jordan”


8 p.m. “In-Laws” *

8:30 p.m. “Just Shoot Me” **

9 p.m. “Frasier”

9:30 p.m. “Hidden Hills” *

10 p.m. “Dateline NBC”


8 p.m. “Ed”

9 p.m. “The West Wing”

10 p.m. “Law & Order”


8 p.m. “Friends”

8:30 p.m. “Scrubs” **

9 p.m. “Will & Grace”

9:30 p.m. “Good Morning, Miami” *

10 p.m. “ER”


8 p.m. “Providence”

9 p.m. “Dateline NBC”

10 p.m. “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”


8 p.m. “NBC Saturday Night Movie”


7 p.m. “Dateline NBC”

8 p.m. “American Dreams” *

9 p.m. “Law & Order: Criminal Intent”

10 p.m.
“Boomtown” **

* new program

** new time period

‘Dinotopia’ delivers big ratings boost for ABC: The first installment of ABC’s “Dinotopia” miniseries delivered mega(saurus)-sized ratings, carrying the struggling Alphabet Network to big wins on the night in adults 18 to 49 (5.5 rating/15 share) and total viewers (14.2 million), according to preliminary Nielsen Media Research fast national data. For its 7 p.m.-to-9 p.m. run, “Dinotopia’s” top-ranked 5.8/14 average in the key adults 18 to 49 demo delivered the network its second-largest numbers in the demo (behind the 5.9/15 for “Brian’s Song”) this season. The segment’s 16.7 million viewers represent ABC largest audience in the 2001-02 season.

An estimated 33 million viewers saw all or part of the first installment of “Dinotopia,” which continues tonight and Tuesday (8 p.m. to 10 p.m.). The telecast helped the network post its strongest Sunday performance since it aired the Academy Awards last March.

“Dinotopia” beat Fox’s 7 p.m.-to-9 p.m. sitcom lineup — typically a young demo winner in the span — by a whopping 61 percent margin (5.8/14 vs. 3.6/11) in adults 18 to 49. The closest Fox got was second-place outings from “The Simpsons” (5.1/14) and “Malcolm in the Middle” (5.1/13) for the 8 p.m. hour. On a positive note for Fox, “The X-Files,” which is reaching a May sweeps series finale, held 96 percent of its comedy lead-ins by posting a second-ranked 4.9/12 average among adults 18 to 49.

Meanwhile, the season finale of ABC’s freshman “Alias” drama won the 9 p.m. hour in adults 18 to 49 (5.1/12), marking its best score in the demo in seven months. A fresh episode of “The Practice” also held 98 percent of its lead-in by finishing second in the 10 p.m.-to-11 p.m. frame to CBS’s second hour of the movie “Double Jeopardy” (5.0/13 vs. 6.7/17). “Double Jeopardy” proved to be a young demo double-threat for CBS in winning the 9 p.m.-to-11 p.m. span among adults 18 to 49 (5.6/14) and adults 18 to 34 (4.9/13).

NBC’s “L.A. Law” reunion movie, however, came in third during the 9 p.m.-to-11 p.m. frame, turning in 2.7/7 in adults 18 to 39 and 4.3/10 in adults 18 to 49.

Fox came in an atypical second for the night in adults 18 to 49 (4.0/11) but maintained its edge in adults 18 to 34 (4.4/14). Aside from CBS tying NBC for third place in adults 18 to 49 (both at 3.7/10 averages), the Eye Network still won the night in the broader household ratings race (8.6/15). ABC came in second in households (7.6/13), followed by NBC (6.4/11) and Fox (5.2/9).

Zalaznick takes dual role with Trio, Universal Television: Lauren Zalaznick has been named president of digital arts network Trio and executive VP of the emerging networks division of Universal Television, formerly USA Networks. In addition to overseeing programming and marketing strategies for Trio, Ms. Zalaznick will be among the senior executives developing new cable networks for Universal Television. She will report to Patrick Vien, president, emerging networks, Universal Television.

Ms. Zalaznick replaces Trio’s founding president, Bill Haber, who will become a consultant to the network while continuing his involvement with USA Ostar, which has produced such theatrical plays as “Noises Off,” “Dance of Death” and “Proof.” Ms. Zalaznick most recently served as senior VP, original programming and development for VH1, where her credits included “VH1 Divas Live,” “The VH1 Fashion Awards” and “Pop-Up Video.” Ms. Zalaznick’s feature producing credits include such edgy independent films as “Kids,””Safe” and “Swoon.”

GoodLife network signs Nick Clooney as host: The GoodLife TV Network, targeting the baby boomer demo, has signed Nick Clooney as its on-air host and spokesman, introducing shows and providing commentary. Mr. Clooney is the father of actor George Clooney and the brother of singer Rosemary Clooney. The role at GoodLife is similar to the one Mr. Clooney formerly had at American Movie Classics. GoodLife currently reaches about 12 million cable subscribers.

ABC, PBS pick up slew of Daytime Emmys: ABC and PBS led the competition for creative arts Daytime Emmys handed out Saturday in New York and Los Angeles. Each broadcaster saw its programming earn nine awards. CBS programming brought in eight. The ceremony was a preamble to May 17’s Daytime Emmys ceremony, to be broadcast live at 9 p.m. (ET) on CBS.

At Saturday’s ceremony, syndicated material won six Emmys, followed by programming on Showtime (4), American Movie Classics (2), Disney Channel (2), and ABC Family Channel, Comedy Central, Food Network, HBO, NBC and The WB (with 1 each).

(c) Copyright 2002 by Crain Communications