CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- The Television Critics Association began its summer press tour last week in which the various broadcast and cable networks talk about their upcoming plans to the nation's top critics and entertainment reporters. This week sees the tour's focus shift to the broadcast networks as ABC held its second of two sessions on Tuesday for the press.
Here's a breakdown of the highlights of ABC's presentation:
-- ABC has clarified a few details about its untitled Christopher Keyser and Amy Lippman project (formerly known as "111 Gramercy Park"). The drama is actually a revamped version of "Park" as the entire cast and crew have been dropped. Keyser and Lippman replace series creator Bob Brush as executive producers/showrunners of the project. Brush left the series for another ABC show, "Karen Sisco," shortly after the Alphabet passed on "Park" for its fall 2003 schedule in May. ABC executives touted "Park" as being a great concept for a show however they apparently were not satisified with the pilot. The cast of the original pilot, which includes Brittany Daniel, Joanna Going, Peter Strauss, Jaleel White, and Joel Grey, will not be retained for the new version. Six episodes of the now untitled project have been ordered for midseason 2004.
-- ABC mentioned that is has slightly upped its license fee for "The Practice" in order to retain the services of new lead James Spader and guest Sharon Stone, who was officially confirmed as having a three-episode arc this season. Distributor 20th Century Fox Television had previously slashed its fee "The Practice" in half in order to secure a renewal for the 2003-04 season. The rollback led to the majority of its cast being let go, including former lead Dylan McDermott.
-- Former cast member Kim Delaney has signed on to appear in a four-episode arc of "N.Y.P.D. Blue" this season. Delaney had previously appeared in one episode last season. Her new arc is set to begin in late October this season.
-- "10-8" has added two new faces as Christina Vidal (UPN's "Hotel") and Alex Meneses ("Everybody Loves Raymond") have signed on to ABC's new drama. Vidal will play a trainee and Meneses a training officer in the series, which stars Danny Nucci as a Brooklyn bad-boy-turned-sheriff's deputy trainee whose life is made a nightmare by his mean and tough training officer (Ernie Hudson).
-- ABC will air its Trista Rehn wedding specials in late November or early December as a bridge between the latest editions of "The Bachelor" (which premieres in September) and "The Bachelorette" (which premieres in January).
-- The Alphabet also announced that Ethan Embry will no longer be a regular on the revamped "L.A. Dragnet." Executives however were quick to point out his character won't be dropped completely as he'll appear in a recurring role. Overall producers have decided to change the focus of the series to a newly promoted Lt. Joe Friday (Ed O'Neill) being placed in charge of a group of young detectives. Joining the cast are Desmond Harrington and Rosalyn Sanchez ("Rush Hour 2") as detectives Dexter McCarron and Lisa Macias respectively. Also on tap is Christina Chang ("Deadline") as Sandy Chang, a politically minded assistant D.A.
-- While ABC is a few weeks away from announcing the premiere dates for its fall schedule, it did confirm its new Thursday drama "Threat Matrix" will be the first out of the gate. With a special Thursday edition of "Monday Night Football" due on September 4 and news coverage expected on September 11, look for "Matrix" to kick off on September 18.
Look for any additional news and coverage in this space later today.
Upcoming TCA schedule: Monday-Tuesday (July 14-15) - ABC; Thursday-Friday (July 17-18) - FOX; Sunday-Monday (July 20-21) - CBS; Tuesday (July 22) - UPN; Thursday-Friday (July 24-25) - NBC