Network mystery lineups
On eve of upfronts, fall slates are still under wraps
By Steve McClellan -- Broadcasting & Cable, 5/12/2002 8:00:00 PM
So few holes to fill, but NBC's going down to the wire nevertheless. That's the situation with NBC's new fall prime time program lineup, scheduled to be unveiled at Radio City Music Hall this afternoon. The rest of the networks will follow day by day, all filled with overstated hope and understated dread.
Unlike the past few years, when NBC's schedule was set the week prior to its formal announcement, the network's programmers were still debating, analyzing and considering all scheduling options over the past weekend. At deadline late last week, network officials weren't expecting the new schedule to be finalized until late Sunday.
In fact, NBC denied a report last week that it was circulating bogus schedules in order to throw the press off the trail.
Meanwhile, the network wasn't giving much away about its new plans. But the network has picked up a new workplace comedy, Good Morning Miami. Network and producer sources say NBC is leaning toward a pick-up of the family drama Miss American Pie, although Entertainment President Jeff Zucker has also said he's keen on two other dramas as well, War Stories and Kingpin. A comedy with Chevy Chase also has a good shot at making the new lineup. A key scheduling move under consideration: shifting JustShoot Me to Tuesday and Scrubs to Thursday.
Meanwhile, ABC, which is in virtual shambles, is pondering 29 new pilots. High on the list of comedy favorites: Eight SimpleRules (for dating my daughter) with John Ritter; Bonnie in the Morning with Bonnie Hunt; Legally Blonde; and the still-untitled workaholic-dad comedy from Michael Jacobs. Dramas in contention are said to include Push, Nevada and That Was Then.
Steven King's The Kingdom and Dick Wolf's Dragnet have been picked up for midseason.
Already renewed at ABC: NYPD Blue, The Drew Carey Show, According to Jim, My Wife andKids, Alias, The Practice and Whose Line Is It Anyway? Here's the difference a year and a few hundred million dollars will make: Who Wants to Be a Millionaire will appear sporadically as a special, not as a weekly series. In its heyday, it aired four times a week on ABC.
CBS has picked up a CSI spin-off set in Miami. The network has also reportedly picked up Life ofthe Party, a comedy with Nathan Lane.
At Fox, executives are very high on a couple of shows, including cop buddy show Fast Lane and John Doe (he knows everything but his name). A new David Kelly show, Girls Club (they're San Francisco lawyers), has a commitment. Others still in contention: Keen Eddy, Save the Last Dance and Time Tunnel. Comedies that look promising: TheGrubbs, Oliver Beene, The Pitts, Beat Cops and Becoming Glen.
Boston Public, Malcolm in the Middle, That '70s Show and The Simpsons all have firm renewal commitments.
At The WB, a new drama with Treat Williams, Everwood, has been picked up. Strong contenders on the comedy side are said to include What I Like About You, with Amanda Bynes, and DoOver. Already renewed: Smallville, Reba, Seventh Heaven, Gilmore Girls, Dawson's Creek, Charmed and Sabrina.
UPN is playing it close to the vest. But sources say Enterprise, Buffy and wrestling show Smackdown will return.
Renewals on Pax TV include Doc, It's a Miracle, Candid Camera and Miracle Pets.
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