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ABC, Fox Make Early Renewals

3/02/2003 07:00:00 PM Eastern

Critically acclaimed action dramas Alias
on ABC and 24
on Fox have already been assured that they will return next season, ABC and Fox executives said last week.

Fox also has definite plans to air another version of Joe Millionaire, Fox Entertainment President Gail Berman said, although the network is keeping quiet on how it plans to keep contestants from knowing they are once again being hoodwinked.

Although Fox is having enormous success with its reality shows, it would like more scripted hits. American Idol
has driven 24's ratings
up 26% since November, said Fox Television Entertainment Group Chairman Sandy Grushow, and that's a good start.

Fox is premiering three comedies this month: Oliver Beene
on Sunday, March 9 at 8:30 p.m. ET; Wanda at Large
Wednesday, March 26 at 9:30 p.m.; and The Pitts
on Sunday, March 30 at 9:30 p.m. The network is holding back Warren Littlefield-helmed drama Keen Eddie,
Berman said, waiting for the "exact right timing." Dramas have generally been hurt by the reality boom.

New reality series Married by America, in which viewers decide whether newly met couples should marry, commences with a two-hour premiere on Monday, March 3 at 8 p.m. and an hour on Wednesday, March 5 at 9 p.m. Thereafter, the show will air regularly on Mondays at 9 p.m. Then, Fox will air Mr. Personality
in the slot, in which one woman gets to know several men without seeing them and has to decide whom she loves based on who he is on the inside.

Besides Alias, ABC is renewing nine shows for next year: all the network's Tuesday and Wednesday comedies, including 8 Simple Rules, According to Jim, Life With Bonnie, Less Than Perfect, My Wife and Kids
and George Lopez. ABC also will air a fourth run of The Bachelor, with the third rendition scheduled to premiere this month.

ABC also has picked up another season of old stand-by America's Funniest Home Videos
and renewed NYPD Blue
for its eleventh season, starting in October.

The network will launch two comedies in late March and early April. Regular Joe
will debut Friday, March 28 at 9:30 p.m. ET, with repeats of 8 Simple Rules
as a lead-in. Lost at Home
will launch on Tuesday, April 1 at 9:30 p.m., following double runs of According to Jim. Lost at Home
will get a four-episode tryout, preempting Less Than Perfect,
which will return on April 29 to complete its season.

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