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[01/14/04 - 12:00 AM]
TCA Winter Press Tour: Nbc
By The Futon Critic Staff (TFC)

CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- The Television Critics Association continued its winter press tour this week in which the various broadcast and cable networks talk about their upcoming plans to the nation's top critics and entertainment reporters.

Here's a breakdown of the highlights of NBC's presentation (via press release):

AMERICA SAYS GOODBYE TO ITS BEST 'FRIENDS' AS NBC PREPARES TWO-HOUR EXTRAVAGANZA TO MARK EMMY-WINNING SERIES' FINALE

Hour-long Retrospective of Classic Moments Will Precede One-hour Series Finale; Cast Will Then Continue Celebration on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" Later That Night as They Reminisce from Central Perk Set

As befitting television's most-popular comedy, NBC plans a two-hour bon voyage to its Emmy Award-winning "Friends" (Thursdays, 8-8:30 p.m. ET) with an hour-long retrospective of classic scenes followed by a one-hour series finale on Thursday, May 6 (8-10 p.m. ET).

"Seldom in TV history have six 'Friends' made themselves so much a part of America's viewing habits and defined appointment-series television," said Zucker. "We're planning a proper blowout for this wildly popular comedy that put the 'Must' in 'Must See TV.'"

Eventful episodes will continue to unfold until the series finale. An hour after the series finale of "Friends" on May 6, "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" will celebrate the show's long-running success with a special show -- shot at the Central Perk set of Warner Bros. Studios. During the special celebration on "The Tonight Show," cast members Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox Arquette, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer will reunite to reminisce about their 10 years of working together to make a television classic.

The countdown's events begin on Thursday, February 12, Phoebe will wed (see separate release) her boyfriend Mike (Paul Rudd). Likewise, the countdown continues when viewers get their chance to select their six favorite episodes for broadcast over six consecutive weeks from March 4-April 8 (see separate release).

A storyline for the series finale will be announced later.

"Friends" is the #1 comedy of the 2003-04 season among adults 18-49, a title the acclaimed series has held for each of the previous five seasons. The "Friends" season-to-date rating of an 8.8 is a whopping 54% better than the highest-rated non-NBC comedy on the schedule, CBS' "Everybody Loves Raymond."

"Friends" is also the most-watched comedy on television, averaging 19.0 million viewers this season. "Friends" is winning its hotly competitive time period in every key ratings category. And while "Friends" is the most-watched comedy, it's also impressively upscale, over-indexing in numerous key upscale demographics.

All original cast members, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox Arquette, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer star as six close-knit young friends living in New York City. The series continues in its 10th season as the leadoff series on NBC's enormously popular "Must See TV" Thursday-night lineup, "Friends" continues to garner critical acclaim and ratings success.

Since its debut season (1994-95), "Friends" has received 55 Emmy Award nominations, including six for Outstanding Comedy Series, which the show won this year. The cast won a Screen Actors Guild Award in 1996 for Outstanding Ensemble Performance in a Comedy Series and has been nominated four times (1996, 1997, 1998, 2002) for a Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series, Musical or Comedy. "Friends" won the People's Choice Award for Favorite New Comedy Series in its first season, and has since won three more times as Favorite Comedy Series including 2002.

The series focuses on the friendship of three men and three women who frequently gather at each other's apartments and share sofa space at Greenwich Village's "Central Perk" coffeehouse. Monica (Cox Arquette) is a chef with an obsession for neatness and order in her life. She is also married to Chandler (Perry), a dry wit who is never at a loss for words. Across the hall are Chandler's longtime roommate Joey (LeBlanc), a womanizing actor currently on the soap opera "Days of Our Lives," and Rachel (Aniston), Monica's best friend from high school.

Across the alley from Monica and Chandler is Monica's hapless brother Ross (Schwimmer), a paleontology professor who has been divorced three times, including once from Rachel. Although Rachel is no longer romantically involved with Ross, they share the responsibility of raising their newborn daughter, Emma. Rounding out the circle of friends is Monica's ex-roommate, Phoebe Buffay (Kudrow), an offbeat, eternally optimistic folk singer and massage therapist.

The series was created by the Emmy Award-winning writing team of Marta Kauffman & David Crane. Emmy and CableACE Award-winning producer Kevin S. Bright is executive producer with Kauffman and Crane. Scott Silveri, Shana Goldberg-Meehan, Andrew Reich and Ted Cohen also serve as executive producers. "Friends" is a Bright/Kauffman/Crane Production in association with Warner Bros. Television.

NBC TO AIR 'QUEER EYE FOR THE STRAIGHT GUY' MARATHON ON SUPER BOWL SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 1

NBC will broadcast a three-episode Super Bowl Sunday marathon of Bravo's breakout series "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" on Sunday, Feb. 1 (8-11 p.m. ET), it was announced today by Jeff Zucker, President, NBC Entertainment, News and Cable Group.

The counter-programming move begins from 8-9 p.m. (ET) with John Bargeman. Bargeman is a man who has done it all -- part-time contractor, car transport driver, plumber, and elevator technician, fireman, carpenter, short order cook, EMT, Navy Seal cadet and stripper. These experiences have taught him many things, but he still has a lot to learn when it comes to personal style and design. A true Dallas Cowboy who fancies his jeans and 10-gallon hat, Bargeman is ready to make some changes and the Fab 5 from "Queer Eye" help him prepare to ask his New York City girlfriend of two years to become his wife. This episode also was broadcast on NBC in August 2003.

From 9-10 p.m. (ET), NBC will showcase an episode featuring Ross Morrissey, a special operations air-strike caller turned pharmaceutical manager. Morrissey's hip, cosmopolitan girlfriend recently moved in to his Upper Eastside apartment and she has enlisted the Fab 5 to help him show her that there is room for her in his apartment, as well as his heart. The mission: turn a bachelor pad into a love nest for two.

Then at 10-11 p.m. (ET), "charity begins at home" when the Fab 5 fix their collective gaze on one of their own. Andrew Lane, a "Queer Eye" utility grip and occasional camera operator, met Diana after a bit of a dating slump. Unfortunately, Lane's apartment, which he shares with his brother, is more dorm room disaster than big-boy bachelor pad. The Fab 5's goal is to get rid of Andrew's frat-boy look and give him a grown-up lifestyle that will charm and impress his new girlfriend.

Both the 9-10 p.m. and 10-11 p.m. telecasts are airing for the first time on NBC.

Last summer, NBC energized its Thursday lineup with three "Queer Eye" specials that averaged a 3.9 rating among adults 18-49 and 7.7 million viewers overall. If counted as a regular series, those Thursday "Queer Eye" specials would have tied for the #5 rating of the summer in 18-49. So far this season, NBC has aired four "Queer Eye" specials in various time periods and averaged a 3.1 rating in 18-49 and 7.2 million viewers overall.

"Queer Eye" also continues to post impressive ratings on Bravo. For the fourth quarter this year versus last year on Bravo, "Queer Eye" has improved the 10-11 p.m. time period by a whopping 1,468 percent in adults 18-49. In adults 25-54, the improvement year-to-year was 1,525 percent.

"Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" is produced by Scout Productions. The executive producers are David Collins and Michael Williams for Scout, and Frances Berwick, Amy Introcaso-Davis and Christian Barcellos for Bravo.

The co-executive producer is David Metzler. The series was created by David Collins, a gay man, and developed by David Metzler, a straight man - a union of sensibilities that gives the show its depth, humor and edge.

NBC FEATURES FEBRUARY GUEST STARS, INCLUDING MICHAEL J. FOX, PARIS HILTON, SNOOP DOGG, DANNY DEVITO, NICK LACHEY, JOHN CLEESE AND BRENDAN FRASER

Among Other Notable Sweeps Stars Are Donny Osmond, Tara Reid, Minnie Driver, Patrick Swayze, Laura Linney, Thandie Newton, Chris Isaak, Dave Foley, Jay Mohr, Jon Lovitz, Bizmarkie, Macy Gray, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Christa Miller, Suzanne Pleshette, and Alison Sweeney and Farah Fath from NBC's "Days of Our Lives"

Jaime Pressly ("Torque") Joins Cast of "Happy Family"

February sweeps will be filled with guest stars on NBC with such varied stars as Michael J. Fox, Paris Hilton, Snoop Dogg, Danny DeVito, Nick Lachey, John Cleese, Brendan Fraser, Donny Osmond, Tara Reid, Minnie Driver, Patrick Swayze, Laura Linney, Thandie Newton, Chris Isaak, Dave Foley, Jay Mohr, Jon Lovitz, Bizmarkie, Macy Gray, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Christa Miller, Suzanne Pleshette and Alison Sweeney and Farah Fath (from NBC's "Days of Our Lives)," among others.

The announcement was made today by Jeff Zucker, President, NBC Entertainment, News and Cable Group.

"Our lineup of guest stars for February only enhances our strong series programs," said Zucker. "Stars such as Michael J. Fox, Paris Hilton and Snoop Dogg will help NBC rise above the competition both in terms of program quality and promotional advantage."

In addition, Jaime Pressly (who also stars in the newly released feature-film "Torque") will join the cast of "Happy Family" (Tuesdays, 9:30-10 p.m. ET) after first appearing as a guest star in the January 6 episode. Pressly will continue to portray Alex, a sassy dental assistant who matches barbs with Todd Brennan (Jeff B. Davis), who works as a dentist in his father's (John Larroquette) home dental practice.

Among the high-profile celebrities appearing from January 29-February 25 are:

� Michael J. Fox will appear on "Scrubs" (Thursdays, 9:30-10 p.m. ET) on Thursday, February 5, reuniting him with series executive producer Bill Lawrence (who created Fox' hit, "Spin City"). Fox will play a surgical doctor who suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, but has found a way to use his idiosyncrasy to his advantage. Tara Reid returns to "Scrubs" as Dr. Cox' sister and Brendan Fraser rekindles his roles as Jordan's (guest star Christa Miller) brother

� Hotel heiress Paris Hilton ("The Simple Life") makes a rare television acting appearance on February 2 on "Las Vegas" (Mondays, 9-10 p.m. ET) -- the top-rated new drama in the adult 18-49 demographic. She plays the pampered fianc�e of a high roller who had a fling with Sam (Vanessa Marcil). Jon Lovitz also stars in the episode entitled "Things That Go Jump in the Night" as a suicidal hotel guest.

� Hip-hop sensation Snoop Dogg appears as himself on "The Tracy Morgan Show" (Tuesdays, 8:30-9 p.m. ET) in the episode "Miracle Street." Legendary R&B singer Bizmarkie also appears in the episode

� On "Will & Grace" (Thursdays, 9-9:30 p.m. ET), Minnie Driver reprises her role as an outrageous British tart on February 19

� John Cleese of "Monty Python" fame returns on February 12 and considers accepting Karen's (Megan Mullally) apology for their romantic tryst - but if he does, will it only antagonize his daughter (Minnie Driver)?

� Also on the series' February 12 episode, Suzanne Pleshette returns to guest-star as Karen's mother as Will (Eric McCormack) and Grace (Debra Messing) help out around her apartment

� Likewise on the February 12 episode of "Will & Grace," Dave Foley ("NewsRadio") will also guest-star in the second of a three-episode arc (including the February 5 and 19 dates) as Will's off-center law client who is drawn to Jack (Sean Hayes)

� Patrick Swayze reunites with his fellow "Ghost" film star Whoopi Goldberg (who won an Oscar for her performance) on "Whoopi" (Tuesdays, 8:30-9 p.m. ET) on February 24. Swayze portrays Mavis' (Goldberg) former choreographer from her days as a one-hit singing wonder who drops by her hotel and resumes their good times-loving relationship

� Jay Mohr (NBC's "Last Comic Standing") is set to appear in a three-episode arc as a controversial and conservative talk show host on "The West Wing" (Wednesdays, 9-10 p.m. ET).

� Thandie Newton returns to "ER" (Thursdays, 10-11 p.m. ET) on February 5 as she continues in her multi-episode arc as Dr. Carter's pregnant girlfriend -- Makemba

� Laura Linney will appear on three episodes of "Frasier" (Tuesdays, 9-9:30 p.m. ET) as Charlotte, a matchmaker who tries to set up Frasier on dates

� Emmy Award and Golden Globe-winning actor Danny DeVito ("Taxi") will make an episodic television appearance on NBC's "Friends" (Thursdays, 8-8:30 p.m. ET), as an over-the-hill stripper performing at Phoebe's (Lisa Kudrow) bachelorette party in an episode to air on February 5

� Also in the same "Friends" episode on February 5, Emmy nominee Donny Osmond also guest-stars as himself when Joey (Matt LeBlanc) appears as a celebrity contestant on the game show "Pyramid"

� Among the "American Dreams" (Sundays, 8-9 p.m. ET) guest stars are Nick Lachey (who stars opposite his wife, Jessica Simpson, in MTV's "The Newlyweds"), as he embodies Welsh singer Tom Jones in the February 15 episode "To Tell the Truth," where he will sing Jones' 1965 hit, "It's Not Unusual." Likewise, in the episode "Old Enough to Fight" on February 22 are: Chris Isaak as Roy Orbison ("Pretty Woman") on "American Bandstand"; appearing on behalf of the USO is Jennifer Love Hewitt as Nancy Sinatra ("These Boots Are Made for Walking" and "Sunny"); and Alison Sweeney (NBC's "Days of Our Lives") as Miss USA and Farah Fath ("Days of Our Lives") as a Playboy Bunny. Other "Days" crossover/guests in the Pryor television store are John Aniston and Frances Reid

� As previously announced, Grammy-winning singer Macy Gray will portray 1960s R&B legend Carla Thomas in the January 18 episode, "Real-to-Reel."

NBC PULLS DOWN THE HALO � AND THE BIG HAIR -- ON THE BACKSTAGE SHENANIGANS OF TELEVISION'S 1970S HIT 'CHARLIE'S ANGELS'

NBC PULLS DOWN THE HALO - AND THE BIG HAIR -- ON THE BACKSTAGE SHENANIGANS OF TELEVISION'S 1970S HIT 'CHARLIE'S ANGELS'

"Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of 'Charlie's Angels'" Probes Series Tumult Involving the Romance, Fashion Statements, Contract Disputes and Action Stunts Behind the Series That Spawned Hit Feature Films

NBC will present "Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of 'Charlie's Angels'" -- the story of how the sexy girls-with-guns television drama series began and ended its tumultuous first season. The television movie, which will offer a behind-the-scenes-peek at the classic TV drama, premieres on Monday, March 29.

The announcement was made by Jeff Gaspin, Executive Vice President, Alternative Series, Longform, Program Strategy of Bravo and NBC Entertainment. "The success of the blockbuster movie franchise and continuing popularity of the classic TV series demonstrate the enduring popularity of 'Charlie's Angels,'" said Gaspin. "Through our franchise of 'Behind the Camera' movie events, we want to take viewers backstage to see the intrigue and emotions that was hidden when the series was appointment television for America."

"Charlie's Angels" became an instant cultural phenomenon and shot to the top of the Nielsen ratings after premiering on September 22, 1976. It made overnight stars of its original crime-fighting "Angels" -- Farrah Fawcett-Majors, Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith. The trio even made the cover of Time magazine that fall when TV celebrities rarely graced the covers of newsmagazines.

"Behind The Camera: The Unauthorized Story of 'Charlie's Angels'" stars Emmy Award winner Dan Castellaneta ("The Simpsons") as Aaron Spelling, Dan Lauria ("The Wonder Years") as Fred Silverman, Wallace Langham who reprises his role from NBC's "Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of 'Three's Company'" as Jay Bernstein, and actresses Tricia Helfer ("Battlestar Galactica") as Farah Fawcett-Majors, Christina Chambers ("Sunset Beach") as Jaclyn Smith and Lauren Stamile ("Off Centre") as Kate Jackson. In addition, Bruce Altman ('Matchstick Men") portrays Leonard Goldberg, and Ben Browder ("Farscape") plays Lee Majors."

"'Charlie's Angels' was the original 'jiggle TV' show, and Farrah Fawcett was the original blonde bombshell of television," said writer-executive producer Matt Dorff ("Growing Up Brady," "Mr. Rock 'n' Roll: The Alan Freed Story"). "It was extremely influential in empowering female characters in action-oriented hour dramas and beyond."

As the former head of VH1 movies, Michael G. Larkin ("Red Water," "Murder in the Heartland") was responsible for over a dozen pop-culture TV movies, including TV movies on The Monkees, Ricky Nelson and Meat Loaf. Larkin also said "The dramatic story behind the show's first season makes this a perfect fit with NBC's direction for movies. Love it or hate it, the impact of this show is still with us 27 years later."

Last May's "Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of "Three's Company'" was one of the top five made-for-television movies of that season among adults 18-49, averaging a 4.5 rating and an 11 share. The May 12 telecast also attracted 9.9 million viewers overall.

The main source consulted for the movie is the book "Charlie's Angel's Casebook" by Jack Condon and David Hofstede. Condon, who is considered to have the world's largest collection of "Charlie's Angels" memorabilia - topping off at more than 8,000 items - has interviewed all six "Angels" series actresses and counts several of the women as personal friends.

"Behind The Camera: The Unauthorized Story of 'Charlie's Angels'" is executive produced by Dorff and Larkin in association with Jaffe/Braunstein Films.

'FRASIER' TAKES ITS PLACE IN TELEVISION PANTHEON AS CLASSIC, RECORD-BREAKING, EMMY-WINNING COMEDY BOWS OUT WITH A TWO-HOUR RETROSPECTIVE

'FRASIER' TAKES ITS PLACE IN TELEVISION PANTHEON AS CLASSIC, RECORD-BREAKING, EMMY-WINNING COMEDY BOWS OUT WITH A TWO-HOUR RETROSPECTIVE AND SERIES FINALE ON MAY 13

NBC's critically acclaimed, classic comedy, "Frasier" (Tuesdays, 9-9:30 p.m. ET), will end its historic, Emmy Award-winning run with a two-hour series finale on Thursday, May 13 (8-10 p.m. ET). The evening will begin with an hour-long retrospective of the comedy's 11 seasons and conclude with a one-hour series finale. The announcement was made by Jeff Zucker, President, NBC Entertainment, News and Cable Group.

"What more can you say about this beloved, classic series?" said Zucker. "It has set the standard for every other comedy on television. Its record for Emmy wins as Outstanding Series will stand forever. This program has represented the ultimate in class and sophisticated humor. Eleven years never passed so fast and we will all miss our weekly visits with the neurotic Dr. Crane and his clan."

"Frasier," starring Kelsey Grammer in his Emmy Award-winning title role of Dr. Frasier Crane, made history by becoming the first series, comedy or drama, to achieve a record five consecutive Emmy wins for Outstanding Comedy Series. With this achievement, the series stands ahead of the classic series which are four-time winners: "The Dick Van Dyke Show," "All in the Family," NBC's "The West Wing," "Hill Street Blues," "L.A. Law" and "Cheers," the series from which "Frasier" was "spun-off."

Equally important, now in its 11th season, "Frasier" has also earned a television series record total of 31 Emmys, including three for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (Grammer) and two for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (David Hyde Pierce).

In addition, the series has garnered the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award; three People's Choice Awards for Favorite Television Comedy, Favorite New Television Comedy Series and Best Actor (Grammer); a Humanitas Prize; Golden Globes for Best Musical or Comedy Series and Best Actor (Grammer), and the TV Guide Award as Favorite Comedy Series, along with many other accolades.

As Dr. Frasier Crane, Grammer tied James Arness' "Gunsmoke" record for playing the longest-running character in television history (20 seasons as Dr. Frasier Crane on "Cheers" and "Frasier").

The upscale comedy features the insecure and pompous psychiatrist, Dr. Crane, host of a Seattle radio advice show. The good doctor's peaceful home life was shattered when his gruff, ex-cop father, Martin (Emmy nominee John Mahoney), was injured in the line of duty and forced to move in with him. He brought with him Eddie (Enzo), his pesky Jack Russell terrier, and a duct-taped recliner that clashes with Frasier's more aesthetically pleasing Eames and Wassily chairs.

Their home is frequently visited by Frasier's snobbish and competitive brother, Niles (Pierce), a fellow psychiatrist, and his wife Daphne (Jane Leeves), who was formerly employed as Martin's live-in physical therapist; their romance was realized in the final episode of the seventh season. At work, Frasier is kept in line by his slightly jaded producer and man-hungry, single-parent Roz Doyle (Peri Gilpin).

David Angell, Peter Casey and David Lee created "Fraiser." The production team includes executive producers Casey, Lee, Kelsey Grammer, Christopher Lloyd, Joe Keenan, Jeffrey Richman, Sam Johnson, Chris Marcil, Lori Kirkland Baker and Jon Sherman.

NBC IS FIRST NETWORK TO PREMIERE ANIMATED HIT FEATURE FILM 'SHREK' ON FEBRUARY 15

Color NBC's rivals green with envy as the network will be the first to premiere the mega-hit feature film "Shrek" on Sunday, Feb. 15 (9-11 p.m. ET) - complete with never-before-seen footage from the computer-generated animated hit that was not included even in the DVD release. The announcement was made by Jeff Zucker, President, NBC Entertainment, News and Cable Group.

"This blockbuster hit has universal appeal that reaches out to all generations," said Zucker. "We're thrilled to make this a family-friendly event that all Americans can now enjoy after the conclusion of the Daytona 500 earlier that day."

In 2001, "Shrek" became a blockbuster film that turned the fairy-tale genre on its collective green ear with its witty script and engaging characters (prompting future sequels).

It features the voices of Eddie Murphy ("Dr. Dolittle"), Mike Myers ("Austin Powers" films), Cameron Diaz ("Charlie's Angels" films) and John Lithgow ("3rd Rock from the Sun") in the charming and timeless fairy tale of a friendly ogre, his chatty donkey and a determined princess.

FEEL THE EARTH MOVE AS NBC DEBUTS IT FOUR-HOUR MINISERIES EVENT '10.5' DURING MAY SWEEPS

NBC's seismic-thriller miniseries "10.5" - starring Kim Delaney, Emmy Award winner Beau Bridges and Fred Ward - will premiere during May sweeps, it was announced at the network's January Press Tour by Jeff Zucker, President, NBC Entertainment, News and Cable Group. The groundbreaking drama is from executive producers Michael Jaffe, Howard Braunstein ("Martha, Inc.: The Martha Stewart Story"), and Gary Pearl ("Liberty Stands Still).

The earth-rattling four-hour miniseries -- named after a monstrous and destructive "10.5" quake as registered on the noted Richter scale -- stars Delaney ("NYPD Blue") as Dr. Samantha Hill, an intellectual earthquake expert. Dr. Hill's theories and take-charge attitude are put to the test when she is entrusted with the responsibility of saving the West Coast from the biggest earthquake ever recorded. Bridges ("The Agency") also stars as President Paul Hollister who along with Roy Nolan, Executive Director of F.E.M.A (Ward, "Sweet Home Alabama") attempts to coordinate aid to the shattered West Coast in the wake of the massive earthquake.

Rounding out the cast are Dave Cubitt ("Robbery Homicide Division") as Dr. Jordan Fisher, Hill's supervisor and former boyfriend; Dul� Hill (NBC's "The West Wing") and Ivan Sergei (NBC's "Crossing Jordan") as a pair of Los Angeles resident surgeons who struggle to save lives against a tidal wave of incoming patients. John Schneider ("Smallville") and Kaley Cuoco ("8 Simple Rules") also star as Dr. Hill's ex-husband and daughter who are trapped in the mountains when the quakes begin to hit.

"10.5" is directed by John Lafia ("The Dead Zone," "Child's Play") and is an Argosy-MAT IV production, with Jaffe-Braunstein and Pearl Pictures. The teleplay written by Lafia, Ronnie Christensen ("Dark Angel") and Chris Canaan ("The House on Turk Street"). Hallmark Entertainment will distribute the film.

UPTIGHT WEDDING PLANNER MONICA DRIVES PHOEBE CRAZY ON HER ALTARED DAY IN SUPERSIZED MILESTONE EPISODE ON FEBRUARY 12

In Pre-Valentine's Day Episode, Phoebe's Pending Nuptials Spiral into Chaos as Blizzard Engulfs Manhattan

One of America's best "Friends" will get the golden ring in an supersized, pre-Valentine's Day episode when Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) finally gets hitched on Thursday, Feb. 12 (8-8:40 p.m. ET) in a typically unorthodox ceremony - but the run-up to the nuptials makes everyone uptight when Monica (Courteney Cox Arquette) takes over as the bride's wedding planner.

In the milestone episode, Monica (Courteney Cox Arquette) drives flighty Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) to the brink when she assumes the reins as her friend's wedding planner and makes everyone uptight -- until she's fired. Phoebe's big day soon spirals into a disaster as deliveries go awry and a blizzard forces changes before she her marriage to Mike (guest star Paul Rudd, "The Cider House Rules").

When Pheebs asks Joey (Matt LeBlanc) to step in for her incarcerated father and give her away, he takes his newfound role as daddy too seriously while Chandler (Matthew Perry) and Ross (David Schwimmer) lobby Rachel (Jennier Aniston) to choose one of them as a last-minute replacement for a groomsman in what promises to be a most unorthodox wedding procession.

"Friends" was created by the writing team of Marta Kauffman & David Crane. Emmy and CableACE Award-winning producer Kevin S. Bright is executive producer with Kauffman and Crane. Scott Silveri, Shana Goldberg-Meehan, Andrew Reich and Ted Cohen also serve as executive producers. "Friends" is a Bright/Kauffman/Crane Production in association with Warner Bros. Television.

JILL HENNESSY IS BACK ON THE CASE AS FORENSIC CRIME DRAMA 'CROSSING JORDAN' RETURNS IN MARCH WITH TWO-TIME DAYTIME EMMY-WINNER JENNIFER FINNIGAN IN A RECURRING ROLE

New Sunday Night Timeslot at 10:00 p.m. ET Welcomes Third Year Drama

"Crossing Jordan" will return to NBC's primetime schedule for its third season in March on Sundays (10-11 p.m. ET). In the new season, Jennifer Finnigan ("The Bold and the Beautiful") joins the cast in the recurring role of a feisty, spirited medical student beginning her pathology residency.

The announcement was made today by Jeff Zucker, President, NBC Entertainment, News and Cable Group.

"Crossing Jordan" debuted as the #1 new drama among adults 18-49 during the 2001-02 season and followed that with solid averages of a 4.0 rating, 9 share in 18-49 and 10.6 million viewers overall during the 2002-03 season.

This season, the series takes a turn toward the procedural aspects of the world of coroners and cops, with Jill Hennessy (NBC's "Law & Order") starring as Dr. Jordan Cavanaugh, a sexy, smart and fearless Boston medical examiner with a checkered professional past and a penchant for investigating unsolved crimes. Jordan's greatest ally is Dr. Garret Macy (Miguel Ferrer, "Traffic"), who does his best to offer guidance and support to his most defiant employee. Also carrying out forensic investigations is Dr. Peter Winslow (Ivan Sergei, "The Opposite of Sex"), whose past lapses in work ethic make this job his last chance in his chosen profession.

Adding a fresh dimension to the coroner's office is pathology resident Dr. Devan Maguire (two time daytime Emmy-winner Jennifer Finnigan), whose eagerness to learn the ropes pushes her colleagues to their limits. Finnigan, a native of Montreal, Canada, attracted a corps of loyal viewers in her racy role as Bridget Forrester on the daytime drama, "The Bold and the Beautiful."

Jerry O'Connell ("Kangaroo Jack") reprises his prominent recurring role of Detective Woody Hoyt. As the maturing Wisconsin native who's determined to do his job properly while earning Jordan's trust, Hoyt works hand-in-hand with the coroners to bring closure to the families of murder victims and to bring the guilty to justice.

Additional support for the cop and coroner team is provided by grief counselor Lily Lebowski (Kathryn Hahn, "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days," "Win a Date with Tad Hamilton!"), forensic entomologist "Bug" (Ravi Kapoor, "Gideon's Crossing") and criminalist Nigel (Steve Valentine, "The Muse").

Tim Kring (NBC's "Providence") is the executive producer and creator of this production from Tailwind Productions in association with NBC Studios.

NBC RENEWS HIT DAYTIME SERIES 'PASSIONS' FOR A SIXTH SEASON

NBC has renewed its hit soap opera "Passions" for a sixth season through 2004-05, it was announced today by Jeff Zucker, President, NBC Entertainment, News and Cable Group

Sheraton Kalouria, Senior Vice President of Daytime Programming, NBC Entertainment said of the announcement, "Critics and viewers alike acclaim 'Passions' for revolutionizing daytime television with the most romantic, innovative storytelling in the genre."

Garnering praise as one of the fastest growing soap operas in America, "Passions" is daytime's #2-rated series among the most coveted demographics, including women 18-34 (2.3 rating/ 14 share) and women 18-24 (2.6/17). The series is also #1 among female teens 12-17 (0.6/8). Currently "Passions" is averaging a 1.8/11 among women 18-49 and 2.7 million viewers overall.

"Passions'" quirky characters and classic love stories have generated interest from the daytime community. Among its accolades "Passions" counts eight Emmy Award nominations, numerous Soap Opera Digest awards -- and Rolling Stone named it a "hot, guilty pleasure".

Based on the rich history and mystery of the harbor community of Harmony, "Passions" explores the lives, loves and losses of four core families: the Cranes, the Lopez-Fitzgeralds, the Bennetts and the Russells, each of whom have their own distinct and diverse personalities. It also features a 300-year-old witch, Tabitha Lenox (Juliet Mills).

"Passions" is a creation of celebrated daytime drama veteran James E. Reilly, who is considered by many industry insiders to be one of the most innovative and prolific writers of the genre. Reilly has created some of the most talked-about storytelling in daytime drama, including characters who are buried alive, or possessed, as well as daytime's first-ever multiple character on NBC's "Days of Our Lives."

"Passions" is produced by NBC Studios in association Outpost Farms Productions, Inc. and is taped in Studio City, California. Lisa de Cazotte is the executive producer.

'AVERAGE JOE: ADAM RETURNS' GIVES AMERICA'S FAVORITE 'AVERAGE JOE' A SECOND CHANCE AT ROMANCE, PREMIERING MARCH 15 ON NBC

Former 'Average Joe' Adam Mesh Begins New Search for Love in Four-part Series

NBC will premiere "Average Joe: Adam Returns," a four-part series starring Adam Mesh who was runner-up for the heart of "Average Joe" beauty Melana Scantlin in the original series. "Average Joe: Adam Returns" will premiere Monday, March 15 (10-11 p.m ET), it was announced today by Jeff Zucker, President, NBC Entertainment, News and Cable Group.

Nearly 20 million people watched as Adam Mesh had his heart broken in the dramatic season finale of "Average Joe." Series star Melana told Adam, "Tonight, the romance has to end," then boarded a private jet with Jason Peoples, choosing Jason's "pretty boy" looks over Adam's charm, wealth and sense of humor.

But now the romance will continue - this time with Adam calling the shots - as he dates some of the tens of thousands of women who have tried to contact him since the broadcast.

The morning after the finale aired, the NBC switchboard was flooded with phone calls from women eager to take up where Melana left off as the special woman in Adam's life. Emails for Adam swamped the inbox at NBC.com, and his personal website has received more than one million hits.

Single women with serious interest in meeting Adam and vying for his heart can find an application to download, instructions for sending in a videotaped message, and more information on NBC.com.

"Average Joe: Adam Returns" is a production of NBC Studios and Krasnow Productions. Stuart Krasnow ("Dog Eat Dog," "Weakest Link") and Andrew Glassman ("Average Joe," "Average Joe: Hawaii") are executive producers; Jason Raff is supervising producer.

ED WILL WED CAROL IN SEASON FINALE ON NBC'S QUIRKY DRAMA 'ED' ON FEBRUARY 6

Drama television's most engaging couple will at last fulfill audience expectations as Ed Stevens (series title star Tom Cavanagh) and Carol Vessey (Julie Bowen) walk down the aisle to marital bliss in the audacious season finale of NBC's quirky "Ed" (Fridays, 9-10 p.m. ET) on Friday, Feb. 6 (9-10 p.m. ET).

In the storyline for the season finale, Carol (Bowen) convinces Ed (Cavanagh) that their wedding plans need to be more spectacular, so they decide to do their nuptials with a circus theme. As Ed's parents arrive, he and Carol go their respective ways for a bachelorachelorette party while earnest student Warren (Justin Long) decides to make am ambitious video for the ceremony -- "The Ed Stevens and Carol Vessey Story."

Through the season's first 15 weeks, "Ed" has averaged a 3.0 rating, 8 share among adults 18-49 and 8.6 million viewers overall. "Ed" remains one of the most upscale programs on television, ranking #3 in the representation of homes with $75,000-plus incomes in its 18-49 audience.

Cavanagh stars in the quirky and comedic drama series with Bowen, Josh Randall, JanaMarie Hupp, Lesley Boone, Daryl Mitchell, Michael Ian Black, Justin Long, Michael Genadry, Rachel Cronin and Marcy Harriell.

"Ed" is produced by NBC Studios in association with Worldwide Pants, Inc. and Viacom Productions. The creators are Rob Burnett ("Late Show with David Letterman") and Jon Beckerman ("Late Show with David Letterman"). The executive producers are Rob Burnett, Jon Beckerman and David Letterman.

'THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO' WILL TRAVEL TO LAS VEGAS FOR SPECIAL SHOWS AIRING MAY 10-14

For the week of May 10, 2004, "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" will return to Las Vegas, for the first time in seven years, it was announced today by Jeff Zucker, President, NBC Entertainment.

Originating from the Paris Hotel and Casino, "The Tonight Show" will celebrate the conclusion of its 12th season with exciting shows from the road. The show previously traveled to Las Vegas in 1995 and 1997. Other "road shows" include Chicago (1996) and New York (1994).

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" has fortified its position as America's #1 late-night choice with its biggest fourth-quarter margins of victory in three years among adults 18-49 and in four years in overall total viewers. It's the show's 8th year in first place among adults 18-49 (including ties).

For the fourth quarter and the season to date, "Tonight" is the only regular network series in the 11:35-12:35 hour that's up versus last year in 18-49. Jay is up 5 percent in 18-49 while "Late Show With David Letterman" is down 6 percent, "Nightline" is down 7 percent and "Jimmy Kimmel Live" is down 11 percent (vs. last year's half-hour "Upclose").

"The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" is from Big Dog Productions in association with NBC Studios. Debbie Vickers is the executive producer.

This article was updated with the corrected times for the "Friends" and "Frasier" finales on Thursday, January 15.





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· AGENCY, THE (CBS)
· AMERICAN DREAMS (NBC)
· AVERAGE JOE (NBC)
· BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (SYFY)
· BEHIND THE CAMERA: THE UNOFFICIAL STORY OF 'CHARLIE'S ANGELS' (NBC)
· BEHIND THE CAMERA: THE UNOFFICIAL STORY OF 'THREE'S COMPANY' (NBC)
· CROSSING JORDAN (NBC)
· DARK ANGEL (FOX)
· DEAD ZONE, THE (USA)
· DOG EAT DOG (NBC)
· ED (NBC)
· EIGHT SIMPLE RULES (ABC)
· ER (NBC)
· EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND (CBS)
· FARSCAPE (SYFY)
· FRASIER (NBC)
· FRIENDS (NBC)
· GIDEON'S CROSSING (ABC)
· GROWING UP BRADY (NBC)
· HAPPY FAMILY (NBC)
· LAST COMIC STANDING (NBC)
· LAW & ORDER (NBC)
· MARTHA, INC.: THE STORY OF MARTHA STEWART (NBC)
· NEWLYWEDS: NICK & JESSICA (MTV)
· NYPD BLUE (ABC)
· OFF CENTRE (WB)
· PROVIDENCE (NBC)
· PYRAMID (SYNDICATION)
· QUEER EYE (BRAVO)
· RED WATER (TBS)
· ROBBERY HOMICIDE DIVISION (CBS)
· SCRUBS (ABC)
· SIMPLE LIFE, THE (E)
· SIMPSONS, THE (FOX)
· SMALLVILLE (CW)
· THIRD ROCK FROM THE SUN (NBC)
· TRACY MORGAN SHOW, THE (NBC)
· WEAKEST LINK, THE (NBC)
· WEST WING, THE (NBC)
· WHOOPI (NBC)
· WILL & GRACE (NBC)





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