UPFRONT: NBC Unveils Fall Picks


Fourth-place NBC added a little weight this season – thanks to the success of Heroes and Deal or No Deal. "The goal next season, said entertainment chief Kevin Reilly, is to "bulk up."

"We’re going to add some mass with new shows that build on the creative accomplishments of last season," said Reilly.

The new diet of shows include Journeyman, about a time traveling newspaper reporter, which will air Monday nights at 10 p.m. after Heroes; the comedic spy thriller Chuck Tuesdays at 9 p.m.; and Lipstick Jungle, the new drama from Candace Bushnell, which will air Sundays at 10 p.m.

NBC also will launch two new dramas on Wednesday -- Bionic Woman starring Michelle Ryan as an average girl who contracts superhuman powers after a car accident (9 p.m.) and Life,with Damian Lewis as a police detective who returns to the job after a stint in prison for a crime he didn’t commit (10 p.m.)

NBC will attempt to stem the rerun/hiatus audience erosion that dogged Heroes this season with a six-episode spin-off called Origins: Heroes featuring new characters. Origins will air in Heroes Monday-night time slot during the latter’s hiatus.

The network has also increased orders of My Name is Earl to 25 episodes and The Office, which moves to Thursdays at 9 p.m. next season – to 30.

"We’re going to fill out the year," said Reilly. "There will not be a lot of repeats. There will not be a lot of hiatuses. We’re going to keep pedal to the metal [throughout the season]."

Over the weekend, NBC announced that it will renew Law & Order for an 18th season, while spin-off Criminal Intent will premiere first-run episodes on NBC Universal-owned cable channel USA Network. Dick Wolf, the creator/executive producer of Law & Order, renewed his deal with the company through 2012.

The network picked up a new game show, The Singing Bee. The show is a spelling bee/karaoke hybrid to alternate on Friday nights at 8 p.m. with the Bob Saget-hosted 1 vs. 100, leading into Las Vegas at 9 p.m. NBC will move the critically-acclaimed but struggling football drama Friday Night Lights from Wednesdays to Fridays at 10 p.m.

Reilly stressed that Alec Baldwin, who expressed a desire to leave 30 Rock, will in fact honor his contract, while Fred Thompson, who is said to be seeking the Republican nomination for President, is unlikely to return to Law & Order.

Jerry Seinfeld will return to NBC, producing 20 live-action "minisodes" culled from his experiences on the feature Bee Movie, due in theaters in November. The shorts will run on the network as well as NBC.com.

Studio 60, Raines,Crossing Jordan and Wedding Crashers didn’t make the cut. Remaining episodes of Studio 60 will air this summer, said Reilly. The Apprentice is also absent from the fall schedule, but Reilly conceded that the network is still talking to executive producer Mark Burnett and producer/star Donald Trump about a new cycle of the flagging reality show.

"We love [Trump,]" said Reilly, "and we want to stay in business with him. The Apprentice," he added, is "not dead yet."