Prime time is family time

The effects of Sept. 11 are reflected in many pilots in network hoppers

This year's prime time development has two major themes: family programming and shows reflecting Sept. 11—that is, shows dealing with police, firemen, the military, government and the like. Some see those two themes as connected in the sense that Americans seemed to focus more on the importance of family in the wake of last year's tragic events.

That's the way Stacey Lynn Koerner sees it. According to Koerner, senior vice president, director of broadcast research, Initiative Media, of the 110 fall pilots in network hoppers, 52, or 47%, fall in that broader family/post-9/11–inspired category.

"This year's pilot topics are designed to resonate with viewers in a post-9/11 world," says Koerner. "Our focus has changed from self-consumed single yuppies to shows more about families and what we think is important in our culture."

ABC has been saying for a while it wants to get back to the family programming that was a key staple until it jettisoned its Friday-night TGIF lineup a few years ago.

Fox is big on family, too, in its own quirky way.

Most networks can point to a show or two that can be described as family. Koerner says five of the six broadcast networks that showed her pilot lineups (UPN the exception) have one or more family shows in the works. Pax TV, of course, is devoted entirely to family programming.

NBC Entertainment President Jeff Zucker is "very high" on a pilot starring Chevy Chase he describes as an updated My Three Sons, "only it's my three daughters."

Here are the broadcast nets' key needs:

  • CBS. Wednesdays and Fridays are the network's neediest nights, says Roy Rothstein, VP, director of national broadcast research, Zenith Media. The net didn't do its usual pilot presentation to agencies this year, but he notes it has had strong drama development in recent years and should improve its lot if the streak continues. CBS is in a strong position, he says, with 14 weekly wins this season and 11 of the top 25 shows.

  • NBC. Three key time periods—Tuesday 8 p.m. ET, Sunday 8 p.m. and Sunday 10 p.m. "Our needs are really minimal," says Zucker. "We're probably looking to fill three hours." Two will be dramas (he likesKingpin
    andWar Stories), plus the Tuesday comedy block.

  • ABC. ABC's needs are not minimal. Rothstein's take: a complete makeover for Thursday, most of one for Friday. The mission for Friday is a new 8-10 p.m. ET comedy block. ABC also needs a new hour each for Monday and Tuesday. A Wednesday-night overhaul wouldn't hurt either, Koerner adds. The good news: New family showsMy Wife and Kids
    andGeorge Lopez
    show signs of life.

  • Fox. Thursday, Friday and Sunday need major work. Tuesday and Wednesday need minor work.Ally's a question mark, and the signatureX-Files
    is going. But a new generation of shows is starting to click, includingBoston Public, Bernie Mac
    and 24. "Give Fox credit for being creative," says Rothstein.

  • The WB. The biggest need: Fix Sunday night. Poor performance that night has hurt the network's overall ratings this season. Thursday at 8 p.m. ET needs work. Friday needs comedies that would be anchored byReba; other current comedies there are expendable. Secondary needs: Monday, Wednesday and Thursday nights could each use a new hour, says Koerner.

  • UPN. Tuesday has a one-hour hole to fill, and Wednesday could use an hour as well.The Amazing Race
    fizzled, but look for more repurposing between UPN and co-owned CBS. Network hasn't revealed comedy development yet, but one of five drama pilots will replace just-canceledRoswell.

  • Pax. The net needs to continue to develop original shows for the weekend and is also looking for a new hour on Monday.

Following are pilots currently in development—at least all those the broadcast networks are admitting to right now.

2002 Development Slates
Working titleStudio/producerStory line
Drama ABC
Homeward BoundStudios USAGirl loses job, has to move back home
The OathTouchstoneTwo doctors fight system at HMO
Larry Gelbart projectTouchstoneMedia family quest for dominance
FlashpointTouchstoneCDC agents and their cases
AstronautsTwentieth Century Fox (TCFTV)NASA drama
Paranormal GirlTouchstonePsychic teen solves crimes
VeritasTouchstoneFather and son archaeologists
MiraclesSpyglass/TouchstoneSpiritually conflicted seminarian
Capital CityDreamWorks/TouchstonePolitical drama
That Was ThenTouchstoneMan revisits his past
Chang Family Saves WorldTouchstoneWutan Temple Warriors battle evil
Nancy DrewTouchstoneBased on the books
Push, NevadaTouchstone/Live PlanetMystery drama viewers help solve
Comedy ABC
Mayor of Oyster BayCarsey-WernerSmall-town honorary mayor
With You in SpiritTCFTVCub reporter in new-age town
My Wonderful LifeTouchstone/GranadaSingle mom balancing work, family
What Leonard Comes Home ToTouchstone/Brad GreyHubby's view of marriage
Michael Jacobs pilotTouchstone/NBCWorkaholic dad tries to reconnect
Legally BlondeTouchstoneBased on the movie
Sun GodsTouchstonePeople selling solar paneling
John Ridley projectTouchstoneHusband deals with social wife and family
Regular JoeTouchstoneDaughter returns home with baby
Couples projectTouchstoneThree couples and their relationships
8 Rules for Dating My DaughterTouchstoneBased on the book by W. Bruce Cameron
Scherick-Ronn pilotTouchstoneUnorthodox private eye and family
Dexter PrepTouchstoneAll-male boarding school
The FunkhousersJersey TV/TouchstoneEccentric close-knit family
Bonnie Hunt projectTouchstoneFamily comedy
Terri Minsky projectTouchstoneGirl gets job in highly competitive office
Drama CBS
CSI MiamiAlliance-Atlantis/CBSSpin-off
Queens SupremeRegency/ShoelaceL.A. Law on the other coast
GeorgetownBig TicketPolitical drama
JoSpelling/CBSPet doctor goes home again
R.U.S.H.USA/CBSL.A. crime drama
HackBig TicketCop and taxi driver fight for underdogs
LeftyBig Ticket/Brad GreyStallone's a priest with a Rambo past
RHD/LAStudios USALAPD detective
Presidio MedWarner Bros.Female doctors in San Francisco
Without a TraceWarner Bros.FBI unit tracks missing persons
Allison Anders projectDreamWorksParole-officer drama
Comedy CBS
Jeff Strauss projectTwentieth TV/Acme/CBSCouple balances work, home, love life
Grown MenWarner Bros.Father and son are roommates
LydekerParamountOverachiever and her office-related problems
Lunchbox ChroniclesStudios USASingle mom juggles work, love
Life of the PartyTCFTVNathan Lane as actor-turned-politician
Two FamiliesWarner Bros.Two widowers and their grown kids
Keenan and Lloyd projectParamountWriter discovers her real and famous dad
McCall/Bardallis projectBrad Grey TVWoman and her big Greek family
Still StandingTCFTVBlue-collar parents raise three kids
Dragons of New YorkCBS/RegencyUpdated Thin Man
Drama NBC
BoomtownNBC/DreamworksL.A. crime drama
KingpinNBC/SpellingDrug-cartel crime drama
Miss American PieNBC/Studios USAFamily drama set in '60s
Miss MiamiNBC/TouchstoneMiami crime drama
Mister SterlingNBC/Studios USAJosh Brolin goes to Washington
St. GeorgeNBCPet doctor and family go to Africa
War StoriesNBCJeff Goldblum as war correspondent
Young ArthurNBCYoung King Arthur
Zero EffectCastle Rock/Warner Bros.Gumshoe master of disguise
Comedy NBC
Good Morning, MiamiWarner Bros.Workplace comedy, morning TV show
Romeo FireNBC/Warner Bros.Small-town firefighters
A.U.S.ANBC/TCFTVScrubs goes to court
Chevy Chase projectSNL Studios/NBCDivorced dad takes care of kids
Class of '06NBC/ParamountAnimal House for the small screen
Ken Finkleman projectNBC/ImagineTV newsman and family
Greg Giraldo projectNBC/ConascoSingle dad/comedian raises small daughter
Hidden HillsNBCThree suburban couples interact
In-LawsNBC/ParamountNewlyweds move in with her parents
It's Not About MeNBCLawyer quits job to be high-school teacher
Life at Five FeetNBCBuddy comedy, columnist and supermodel
Drama FOX
FireflyTCFTVMulti-ethnic, updated Starsky & Hutch
Keen EddieLittlefield/ParamountAmerican cop on a mission in London
Save the Last DanceParamountBased on the film of same name
Time TunnelTCFTV/RegencyRedo of '60s TV series
EastwickWarner Bros.Son of Witches of Eastwick
John DoeRegencySavant amnesiac knows all but one thing
UntitledTCFTVSecret Service ensemble
Girls ClubTCFTV/David KelleyFemale attorneys share San Francisco apartment
SeptupletsStu Segall ProductionsDramedy about teen septuplets
Comedy FOX
Beat CopsNBC/ConacoBuddy comedy, NYC cops
Next!TCFTVComedy sketch show
The Big FixCastle Rock/Warner Bros.Dead man returns to fix mistake
The PittsTCFTVTrials of a luckless family
Eric Gilliland projectStudios USALiberal son vs. conservative stepdad
Alan Zweibel projectRegencyExtended-family comedy
BSImagine/TCFTVGirls at boarding school
Cedric the EntertainerTCFTVSketch variety show
Oliver BeeneDreamWorks/TCFTVKennedy-era Wonder Years
Life on ParoleDreamWorks/TCFTVParole officer and his parolee buddy
The GrubbsStudios USA/GranadaBlue-collar family of losers
Ricky Blitt projectTCFTVHyper-neurotic slacker
Drama The WB
AcesWarner Bros.Teen and his gambler father
Birds of PreyWarner Bros.Superheroines battle villains in Gotham City
Black SashWarner Bros.San Francisco bounty hunter teaches martial arts
Home of the BraveSpellingSoldier returns home after tour of duty
EverwoodWarner Bros.Widowed doctor moves to small town
In My LifeTurnerComing of age in Baton Rouge, La., circa 1964
Lone RangerTurnerRedo of the old series
Lost in OzWarner Bros.Adventure series set in Oz
Comedy The WB
Amanda Bynes projectWarner Bros.Teenager moves in with older sister
Family AffairTurnerUpdated version of '60s series
Just Like YouBig TicketLatino family
Brave New WorldTurnerHome-schooled kids start public school
Generation GapParamountWild mom moves in with her uptight daughter
PrepTurnerCo-ed boarding school
Do OverParamountA reverse Big
St. SassWarnerBoarding-school dorm mom and misfits
HouseblendParamountDivorced friends combine their households
In My OpinionPrimarily EntertainmentOffice comedy, female advice columnist
Way DowntownTurnerTrials of twentysomethings in NYC
The Twilight ZoneTrilogy/New LineNew version of the Serling classic
One for the MoneyWendy Finnerman/Columbia TriStarFemale bounty hunter
The LegacyBruckheimer/Warner Bros.Young attorney is a superhero
HauntedIndustry Entertainment/ViacomGumshoe has help from spirit world
EmpireAmerican Zoetrope/Greenblatt JanollariTwo brothers own hip-hop label
Lip ServiceDave Alan Johnson/Gary R. JohnsonHearing-impaired FBI agent
Body & SoulJohn WhelpleyAlternative-medicine drama
Just CauseJacqueline Zambrano/Gail Morgan HickmanEx-con lawyer fights for justice
Opportunity Knocksnot availableNeighbors compete for prizes