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NBC picks up new series from <i>Will & Grace</i> creators (16051)

16051Entertainment News2005-05-17

NBC picks up new series from Will & Grace creators

NBC is bringing a reformed crook, a reformed overeater, and mysterious creatures of the deep sea to its prime-time lineup for the 2005-2006 season. Sources said the network has ordered at least three new comedies--My Name Is Earl, Thick and Thin, and Four Kings--and three new dramas--E-Ring, Inconceivable, and Fathom--for the coming season. Series that are gone completely from the 2005-2006 lineup include midseason comedy Committed, dramas Medical Investigation and American Dreams, and, most surprisingly, Law & Order: Trial by Jury, a short-lived spin-off of Dick Wolf's enduring cops-and-courts franchise.

The network kicks off a week of broadcast network upfront presentations Monday with its fall scheduling unveiling for media buyers, major advertisers, and industryites at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Sources said the network will emphasize its plans to launch new programing throughout the September-May season, which for NBC will include significant prime-time preemptions February 10-16 for coverage of the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy. Indeed, some of the speculative NBC schedules making the rounds did not include My Name Is Earl or Four Kings on the fall lineup and had two versions of The Apprentice--one hosted by Donald Trump, the other by Martha Stewart--nailing down slots on Thursday and Sunday, respectively.

Earl is described as an offbeat vehicle starring Jason Lee as a low-rent crook who decides to make amends with his victims after he wins the lottery. Thick and Thin stars Jessica Capshaw as a woman who struggles to grow into her new svelte lifestyle after losing a lot of weight. Four Kings, from Will & Grace creators David Kohan and Max Mutchnick, revolves around four men in New York who have been friends since childhood. Dramawise, E-Ring, from the Jerry Bruckheimer TV shop, is a high-end drama in the West Wing vein but set in the Pentagon, with Dennis Hopper and Benjamin Bratt leading the ensemble cast. Inconceivable is a behind-the-scenes look at the work of doctors at a fertility clinic. Fathom revolves around the search for mysterious creatures of the ocean.

Sources said NBC network brass were still negotiating a renewal of midseason comedy The Office, which has earned some affection from critics but weak ratings in its airings so far on Tuesdays. The network was said to have offered a six-episode pickup while the studio side of its NBC Universal parent was holding out for at least 8-10 episodes, sources said. There also was talk that the returning comedy Scrubs would be held back from the fall schedule for a midseason return, but that could not be confirmed. New projects said to be in contention for midseason orders included the comedies Filmore Middle and Lies and the Wives We Tell Them To. The drama The Book of Daniel was said to still have a shot at a midseason order, along with a midseason nod for more episodes of Revelations, which has had a six-episode run as a limited-series this season.

(Nellie Andreeva and Cynthia Littleton, via Reuters)

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