CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) - Building on the momentum created by its successful slate of comedies, Lloyd Braun, Chairman, ABC Entertainment Television Group, outlined ABC's plans for next season, and Susan Lyne, President, Entertainment, announced the network's new 2003-2004 primetime schedule. The new schedule includes the addition of seven new entertainment series for the fall -- four comedies and three dramas -- plus two midseason dramas, from every major studio.
The two spoke before representatives of the advertising and media communities at Radio City Music Hall in New York.
The new fall schedule includes the new comedy series "Back to Kansas," "Hope & Faith," "I'm with Her" and "It's All Relative," and the dramas "10-8," "Karen Sisco" and "Threat Matrix."
Highlights include the return of ABC's long-running Friday night comedy franchise, TGIF, with the hit series "George Lopez" as the 8:00 p.m. anchor, and the renewal of the critically acclaimed and award-winning drama, "The Practice," which returns for its eighth season to Sunday at 10:00 p.m.
In addition Ms. Lyne announced two drama series for midseason, "Line of Fire" and "Stephen King's Kingdom Hospital."
She also made two announcements regarding the phenomenal relationship reality series "The Bachelor": The next "Bachelor" will be the endearingly funny Bob Guiney from "The Bachelorette," and this fall ABC will broadcast four hours documenting the wedding of "The Bachelorette," Trista Rehn, to the love she found on the show, Ryan Sutter.
Commenting on the announcement, Ms. Lyne said: "For the coming season, ABC is embracing the idea of being America's broadcasting network, and with that, introducing scripted programming that reflects the lives and values of our viewers. While many networks have struggled with comedy development, we believe we've found our comedic voice. We're bringing back our entire slate of comedies, including �8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter' and �George Lopez,' and adding four new ones, making ABC home to 10 comedies next season -- the most of any network.
"We've brought the same focus to our drama development this year," Ms. Lyne continued. "We looked for stories and characters that our viewers can relate to, characters they'll want to get to know better. The return of �NYPD Blue,' �The Practice' and �Alias' signal the importance of this kind of relationship, and the three new dramas we'll debut this fall further illustrate our commitment to creating shows and characters that our viewers will want to invite into their homes every week."
Mr. Braun added: "We are confident today's new schedule will continue our upward ratings momentum, build on our success in comedy, and introduce a new generation of signature dramas."
ABC's complete 22-hour fall primetime schedule, which will premiere in September, is as follows (all times listed are Eastern, with new shows in bold):
8:00 p.m "Primetime Monday"
9:00 p.m "Monday Night Football" (through January)
8:00 p.m "ABC Movie of the Week" (in January after football)
8:00 p.m "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter"
8:30 p.m "I'm with Her"
9:00 p.m "According to Jim" (new time period)
9:30 p.m "Less Than Perfect"
10:00 p.m "NYPD Blue"
8:00 p.m "My Wife and Kids"
8:30 p.m "It's All Relative"
9:00 p.m "The Bachelor"
10:00 p.m "Karen Sisco"
8:00 p.m "Threat Matrix"
9:00 p.m "Extreme Makeover" (new day and time)
10:00 p.m "Primetime Thursday"
8:00 p.m "George Lopez" (new day and time)
8:30 p.m "Back to Kansas"
9:00 p.m "Hope & Faith"
9:30 p.m "Life with Bonnie" (new day and time)
10:00 p.m "20/20"
8:00 p.m "The Wonderful World of Disney" (new day and time)
10:00 p.m "L.A. Dragnet" (new day and title)
7:00 p.m "America's Funniest Home Videos" (new day and time)
8:00 p.m "10-8"
9:00 p.m "Alias"
10:00 p.m "The Practice" (new day and time)
Descriptions of the seven entertainment series joining ABC's primetime schedule this fall, listed in alphabetical order, follow (all times are Eastern):
"10-8" (one-hour drama, Sundays at 8:00 p.m., ET) -- Brooklyn bad boy Rico Amonte was sliding into a life of crime. Then his policeman brother caught him in the act � and hauled him off to Southern California to get him on the straight and narrow. Two years later, Rico is a graduate of the Los Angeles Sheriff's academy � a Deputy Sheriff trainee about to hit the streets in uniform, and with a gun and a badge.
New York's streets were dangerous, but nothing has prepared Rico from the hazing he gets from his own department. His training officer, John Henry Barnes, is the meanest, toughest veteran on the force and is determined to hammer Rico into a by-the-book officer of the law -- or break him in the process.
-- Danny Nucci "Titanic," "The Rock"): Rico Amonte
-- Ernie Hudson ("Oz"): John Henry Barnes
-- Indigo: Tisha Graves
-- Scott William Winters: Matt Jablonski
-- Mercedes Col�n: Sheryl Torres
-- Travis Schuldt: Chase Williams
-- Executive Producer/Writer: Jorge Zamacona
-- Executive Producers: Aaron Spelling, E. Duke Vincent
-- Production Companies: Spelling Television and Touchstone Television
"Back to Kansas" (working title -- half-hour comedy, Fridays at 8:30 p.m., ET) -- In Tom's marriage to Susan Kelly, everything is relative. Everything. Tom, an only child, quickly learns that Susan's family is not only larger-than-life... it's larger than most. Now his toughest challenge is fitting in without freaking out.
Tom and Susan moved from New York to Kansas to be closer to the quirky, tight-knit Kellys. But it's a little too close for Tom's comfort. The in-jokes, the family quirks... every get-together tests Tom's nerves, but nothing compares to his worst nightmare � game night. From befriending Susan's weird, bug-collecting brother to schmoozing with her smug, condescending uncle, Tom tries his best to become one of the family... whether he likes it or not.
From exec-producer Brad Grey ("The Sopranos," "Just Shoot Me") comes a family-sized comedy with a super-sized heart. It's the show about a mild-mannered guy discovering that in a big family, it's all for one... and every man for himself.
-- Breckin Meyer ("Road Trip," "Go," "Kate & Leopold"): Tom
-- Meredith Monroe: Susan
-- Sam Anderson ("From the Earth to the Moon"): Bill
-- Nancy Lenehan: Sandy
-- Emily Rutherfurd: Mary
-- Josh Braaten: Chris
-- Derek Waters: Lewis
-- Executive Producer/ Writer: Tom Hertz
-- Executive Producer: Brad Grey
-- Director: Ted Wass
-- Production Companies: Brad Grey Television in association with Twentieth Century Fox Television
"Hope & Faith" (half-hour comedy, Fridays at 9:00 p.m., ET) -- Stay-at-home mom, Hope (Faith Ford, "Murphy Brown"), leads a busy, family-centered suburban life with her husband, children and live-in father. Her celebrity sister, Faith (Kelly Ripa, "Live with Regis and Kelly," "All My Children"), has been living the high life in Hollywood as a daytime soap opera diva. But when Faith's character is suddenly killed-off on "The Sacred and the Sinful," she flees Tinseltown and the relentlessly inquiring minds of the tabloid press, and seeks refuge in suburbia with Hope.
In a flash, Hope's sensible, down-to-earth world goes star-struck. Raising three kids �including a rebellious teen girl � has never been easy. But with trendy, theatrical Faith at the dinner table, parenting turns into crisis management for Hope.
"Hope & Faith" is a comedy about what happens when the fast lane collides with the carpool lane. It's about the moments that make you want to hug your sister... and the times you want to write her out of your life.
-- Faith Ford ("Murphy Brown"): Hope
-- Kelly Ripa ("All My Children," "Live with Regis and Kelly"): Faith
-- Josh Stamberg: Charley
-- Harve Presnell: Jack
-- Macey Cruthird: Hayley
-- Brie Larson: Sydney
-- Slade Pearce: Justin
-- Co-Executive Producer/Writer: Joanna Johnson
-- Executive Producers: Guymon Casady, Emile Levisetti, Michael Edelstein
-- Production Company: Touchstone Television
"I'm with Her" (working title -- half-hour comedy, Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m., ET) -- Writer Chris Henchy's real life marriage to Brooke Shields is the inspiration for this fresh romantic comedy: He's an average guy living with a woman who can't even pick up their dry cleaning without being asked for an autograph! Which means he's got plenty of funny stories to bring to this series about a high school teacher who falls for a movie star.
On the day that would change his life, delightful young everyman Patrick Owen is drinking his mid-morning latte when he's bitten by love. Literally. The gnashing jaws belong to Monroe, the easily-excited puppy of movie star Alexandra Young. When she tries to apologize � and when Patrick recognizes her famous face � he's awestruck, dumbstruck, and so very charming.
Alex sets her sights on Patrick, but he's unprepared for the add-ons that come with this little flirtation. His anonymity and privacy go up in the flash of a hundred paparazzi cameras. And he's an overnight sensation with his young male students, for reasons that have nothing to do with his brilliant classroom banter. All of which makes him wonder if it's possible to find true love in the hot spotlight of the media.
From the producers of "Smallville" comes a unique look at a guy dating out of his league. Way out of his league. This comedy proves nice guys don't always finish last. Sometimes they go the distance.
-- David Sutcliffe: Patrick
-- Teri Polo ("Meet the Parents"): Alex
-- Danny Comden: Stevie
-- Rhea Seehorn: Cheri
-- Executive Producers/ Writers: Chris Henchy, Marco Pennette
-- Executive Producers: Mike Tollin, Brian Robbins, Joe Davola
-- Production Companies: Tollin-Robbins Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television
"It's All Relative" (working title -- half-hour comedy, Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m., ET) -- So you think Romeo and Juliet had family issues? Listen to this.
Bobby's a bartender � the only son of gregarious, salt-of-the-earth Irish Catholic parents from Boston. His fianc�e, Liz, is a toney Harvard student and she's Protestant (no, that's not the problem). Liz has two dads, not one, and they're a worldly pair of well-heeled gay men.
The moment Bobby popped the question to Liz, they knew their families would have to meet. And the first time they brought his Mom and Dad together with her Dad and Dad... well, things did not go well.
Aside from the obvious, there's a culture gap between these in-laws-to-be that makes the Grand Canyon look like a seam in the sidewalk. Liz's parents are devotees of the arts. Bobby's are devotees of the Red Sox. Liz's parents are into St. Laurent. Bobby's parents swear by St. Patrick. Did we mention that Bobby's sister, Maddy, loves throwing gasoline on the fire?
From Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, acclaimed producers of the Oscar-winning "Chicago."
-- Reid Scott: Bobby
-- Maggie Lawson ("Nancy Drew"): Liz
-- John Benjamin Hickey ("Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows"): Philip
-- Chris Sieber: Simon
-- Lenny Clarke ("The Job"): Mace
-- Harriet Harris ("Nurse Betty"): Audrey
-- Paige Moss: Maddy
-- Executive Producers/ Writers: Ann Flett-Giordano, Chuck Ranberg
-- Executive Producers: Craig Zadan, Neil Meron
-- Production Companies: Touchstone Television, Paramount Television
"Karen Sisco" (one-hour drama, Wednesdays at 10:00 p.m., ET) -- Smart. Sexy. Tough. Karen Sisco is a United States marshal on Miami's Gold Coast. In pursuit of dangerous fugitives, Karen must pick her way through the dark underbelly of South Beach nightlife and the sunshine and glitz of Palm Beach highlife... while she struggles to win the respect of her supervisor and fellow officers.
Karen is a barely concealed weapon who can take down a suspect twice her size. The only man she truly trusts is her father � a retired marshal with a wealth of life experience and street smarts. He's Karen's confidant, counselor, confessor � and her rock when her confidence waivers... which it does every time she tries to connect romantically with a man.
Based on the character portrayed by Jennifer Lopez in Elmore Leonard's "Out of Sight," "Karen Sisco" is that rare combination of action and character-drama, with a fresh and original young lead.
-- Carla Gugino ("Spy Kids"): Karen Sisco
-- Robert Forster ("Jackie Brown"): Marshall Sisco
-- Bill Duke ("A Rage in Harlem"): Amos Andrews
-- Executive Producers/ Writers: Jason Smilovic, Scott Frank
-- Executive Producers: John Landgraff, Danny DeVito, Stacy Sher, Michael Shamberg
-- Director: Michael Dinner
-- Production Companies: Jersey Television, Universal Network Television
"Threat Matrix" (one hour drama, Thursdays at 8:00 p.m., ET) -- Our nation is a target. Al-Qaeda and other deadly enemies are determined to destroy our way of life. An attack could come at any time, from anywhere around the globe.
Against this rising threat, the Homeland Security Agency has created a highly specialized, elite task force trained and equipped to counter anyone or anything that threatens our nation. The head of this super-secret team is Special Agent John Kilmer. He reports only to the President and has authority to call upon the technical skills, firepower and the specialist agents of the FBI, CIA and NSA.
Working with cutting-edge technology � and vast stores of chutzpah � this clandestine team fights the many faces of terror to keep America safe. The one wrinkle in Kilmer's dream-team is his ex-wife, Frankie. She's as beautiful as she is fearless and lethal. Together they've averted disasters of all kinds, except their marriage.
With stories ripped from headlines, "Threat Matrix" is a drama with a ticking clock in an arena as deep and complex as today's world.
-- Jamie Denton ("Primary Colors," "Philly"): John Kilmer
-- Kelly Rutherford ("Melrose Place"): Frankie Ellroy Kilmer
-- Will Lyman: Colonel Roger Atkins
-- Kurt Caceres: Tim Serrano
-- Mahershalalhashbaz Ali: Jelani
-- Melora Walters: Anne "Lark" Larken
-- Anthony Azizi: Mo
-- Shoshannah Stern: Holly Brodeen
-- Executive Producer/ Writer: Daniel Voll
-- Executive Producers: Emile Levisetti, Michael Edelstein, Keith Addis
-- Production Company: Touchstone Television, Industry Television
"Line of Fire" (working title -- one-hour drama) -- Strap on your weapon and try to survive another day on the streets. It's the same on both sides of the law. If you want to make it to the top, you've got to learn the ropes, outwit the competition and take down your enemies.
Welcome to the war between the FBI and organized crime. One side enforces the law as the other breaks it, but brains, brawn and intimidation are often the tools of both trades. The Richmond-based Malloy Crime Syndicate is run by Jonah Malloy, a charismatic but dangerous father figure. The Richmond FBI branch has its own dynamic leader in Special Agent-In-Charge Lisa Cohen. Like any business, they must justify operations and produce results while wrangling lieutenants who are as flawed as they are hard-working.
This fast-paced drama is a gritty look at a world that viewers have only imagined. These titanic organizations work side-by-side, completely aware of each other, but are unable and often unwilling to completely destroy the enemy that stands in their way.
-- Leslie Bibb ("Popular"): Paige Van Doren
-- Anson Mount ("Boiler Room"): Roy Ravelle
-- David Paymer ("The Hurricane"): Jonah Malloy
-- Leslie Hope ("24"): Lisa Cohen
-- Jeffrey Sams ("Soul Food"): Todd Stevens
-- Brian Goodman: Donovan Stubbin
-- Michael Irby: Amiel MacArthur
-- Julie Ann Emery: Jennifer Sampson
-- Executive Producer/ Writer/Director: Rod Lurie
-- Executive Producer: Marc Frydman
-- Executive Producer: Jeff Melvoin (series only)
-- Production Companies: DreamWorks Television in association with Touchstone Television
"Stephen King's Kingdom Hospital" (drama, Thursdays at 9:00 p.m., ET, beginning in January) -- Using the Danish miniseries "Riget" (a.k.a. "The Kingdom") as a point of inspiration, master of horror Stephen King gives this story a unique and menacing American touch. King himself describes it as "ER" crossed with "The Shining."
Kingdom is a hospital whose bizarre population includes a brilliant surgeon who lives in the basement, a nearly blind security guard and a nurse who regularly faints at the sight of blood. But when patients and staff hear the voice of a girl crying through the halls and a patient destined for life as a paraplegic miraculously recovers, they are dismissive of any suggestion of mysticism or unseen powers... at their own peril.
-- Executive Producers: Stephen King and Mark Carliner
-- Production Companies: Columbia TriStar Television in association with Touchstone Television.
The above is taken from ABC's press release concerning its upfront presentation. You can read the original release by clicking here.