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April 18, 2014

The Upfronts: ABC

by Joel Keller, posted May 16th 2006 8:45AM
ABC logoABC released its 2006-07 prime-time schedule this morning during a press conference conducted by Steve McPherson, president of ABC Entertainment (at 8 AM no less... those executives like to catch the early news cycles, don't they?), which I sleepily attended by phone. The changes in brief:

Returning: Grey's Anatomy, Lost, Desperate Housewives, Dancing with the Stars, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Boston Legal, The Bachelor, Supernanny, What About Brian, According to Jim, America's Funniest Home Videos, American Inventor, George Lopez, Wife Swap, 20/20, Primetime (limited specials).

Out: Invasion, Sons & Daughters, Less Than Perfect, Hope & Faith, Rodney, Commander-In-Chief (although that may return as a two-hour movie), Freddie, In Justice, Emily's Reasons Why Not, Crumbs, Hot Properties, Jake in Progress, Alias, The Evidence, Miracle Workers.

New: Betty the Ugly, Big Day, Brothers & Sisters, Day Break, Help Me Help You, In Case of Emergency, Greg Behrendt's Wake-Up Call, Just for Laughs, Let's Rob..., Men in Trees, The Nine, Notes from the Underbelly, Set for the Rest of Your Life, Six Degrees, Traveler, ABC Saturday Night College Football.

Moving: Grey's Anatomy (to Thursdays at 9), Dancing with the Stars (to Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 8), According to Jim / George Lopez (to Wednesdays at 8 when Dancing isn't on).

Detailed descriptions of the new shows (and some notes on the schedule) after the jump.

Brothers & Sisters (Sunday 10 PM): Calista Flockhart leads an ensemble cast in a dramedy about the underlying turmoil and controversey in a seemingly idyllic family. Ron Rifkin (Alias) and Rachel Griffiths (Six Feet Under) also stars. Produced by Alias' Ken Olin.

Day Break (to air in Lost's Wednesday at 9 slot when the show is on hiatus): Taye Diggs stars in a high-concept thriller where a detictive framed for killing a DA replays the day of the killing over and over until he can a) figure out who killed the DA, and b) he fixes the fractured relationships in his life. McPherson called this "the best role that Taye Diggs has ever played". Essentially, it's a dramatic version of Groundhog Day; I'm pretty sure we won't be seeing Chris Elliot in this one.

Men In Trees (Friday 9 PM): Anne Heche stars as a relationship expert who's finds out her engagement has broken down while she's on her way to a speaking engagement to Alaska. Once she gets there, she gets stuck in a snowstorm, and finds that the world of Alaska (and its many, many available men) gives her some new insight into relationships.

The Nine: (Wednesday, 10 PM): This show examines how a shared traumatic experience changes people's lives forever. In this case, the event is a 52-hour bank robbery and hostage situation. The show examines both what happens to the victims after the event intercut with flashbacks to the fateful robbery and how that day unfolded. Starring Chi McBride, Tim Daly, and Scott Wolf.

Six Degrees (Thursday 10 PM): The latest in the seemingly unending creative well that is J.J. Abrams, it takes place on, as McPherson put it, "an island with 3 million survivors, Manhattan". It examines how six strangers in Manhattan affect each other's lives without ever meeting each other. It's essentially the "six degrees of Kevin Bacon" game come to life, only more angsty and dressed in much better clothes. Oh, and no Kevin Bacon.

Traveler (currently a mid-season replacement): McPherson phrased the concept behind this thriller beautifully: "it's a character-driven thriller about two guys who are betrayed by who they thought was their best friend." Basically, three friends play a prank but get caught up as suspects in a terrorist bombing, but two of the friends can't find the third, or any evidence that he exists. I know, I know... you'll just have to watch.

Betty the Ugly (Friday 8 PM): a one-hour comedy based on a telenovela developed by Salma Hayek, it sounds like it's a Latina and fashion-industry verison of Less Than Perfect, where a "full-figured" woman becomes the assistant to a high-powered fashion-magazine editor. Will she fit in in the world of the razor-thin? Will we all care? We'll see in the fall.

Big Day (Thursday 8 PM): The high-concept put forth by the network is "Father of the Bride" crossed with "24". Basically, this half-hour comedy spends an entire season dissecting the events of the biggest day in Danny and Alice's life: their wedding day. The concept going forward is to apply this season-long format to other big days in the couple's life, but this season will only focus on the wedding day. Marla Sokoloff and Wendie Malick star.

Help Me Help You (Tuesday 9:30 PM): Ted Danson stars in this ensemble single-camera comedy about group therapy. Well, it's not just going to be about the sessions, but how the patients use the lessons learned in their everyday lives. It will also examine the life of their doctor (Danson) who is the calm authoritative presence in group even though he's probably more messed up than any of his patients. Jane Kaczmarek guest stars in the pilot; look for her to be added to the cast.

In Case of Emergency (currently a mid-season replacement): A comedy about a group of friends who find each other a number of years after high-school graduation, only they find each other because their lives didn't exactly turn out like they planned. Directed by Jon Favreau and starring Jonathan Silverman and David Arquette.

Let's Rob... (Tuesday 9 PM): The most-publicized pilot on ABC's schedule, mainly because of the presence of Mick Jagger. This show comes from the creators of Ed, and stars Donal Logue as the head of a group of misfits who, even though they've never even shoplifted in their lives, conspire to rob Mick Jagger in order to fund their dreams of opening a bar. The original concept involved Jeff Goldblum, but he's involved in the NBC show Raines, so McPherson thought of Jagger after going to a Rolling Stones concert (thank God he didn't go see Justin Timberlake, right?). According to McPherson, the show screened better than any he has ever seen, whatever that means, so he's very high on this project.

Notes from the Underbelly (Thursday 8:30 PM): A comedy about how a couple's pregnancy not only affects the couple themselves but all of the friends and family around them. Produced by Barry Sonnenfeld (who recently directed the movie RV).

Other notes: Lost will air without repeats next year, first in a 7-week block. Then Day Break will run for a number of weeks, with Lost coming back to complete its run. Dancing With the Stars is on the fall schedule for the first time, but will still be the same limited run. McPherson thinks less repeats is a good idea: "It's a more expensive schedule, but I think the audience is more demanding right now. We have to work into our schedule more and more original programming."

The big news: Grey's Anatomy's moving to Thursdays at 9, opposite CBS powerhouse CSI and the most-anticipated new show of the season, NBC's Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Break out your old VCRs, folks, because your TiVos aren't going to be able to cover everything. I think it's a smart move, since CSI has a different audience than Grey's and Studio 60 is unproven. Given the big response to the Grey's finale, it might be the perfect way for ABC to build an audience on a day where they've lagged behind for many years.

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Melinda

Please don't take away Invasion! At least finish the story line...

July 14 2006 at 11:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
elaine

Dancing with the stars? American Inventors? are in and Invasion is out? OH MY That was really the only show I watched on ABC except Housewifes. ABC you have always fell short next to your competition now as far as Im concerned your out of the running completely....Invasion was the best show you've had around for along time...

June 07 2006 at 12:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
elaine

I can't believe they cancelled INVASION...ABC you don't have too many good shows left! Dumb move

June 07 2006 at 12:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
elaine

Im bummed, Invasion was the only show I liked to watch these days, you guys are as%$#*&

June 07 2006 at 12:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
AVDJ

you can do whatever you want, as long as you don't mess with LOST

May 23 2006 at 8:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Harmony

Eks I must be like one of the few people who actually watched IN JUSTICE... They didn't even end the show they just stopped showing episodes!!!

May 23 2006 at 6:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jessica

Noooooo I wanted them to keep Invasion. It is too good of a show to let go away.

May 22 2006 at 4:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Rodney

Why ABC couldn't see it had the trifecta of scfifi network shows with 'Surface, Invasion & Threshold' plus 'Lost' I'll never understand? They let them all go (except 'Lost')? Now 'Alias' ends it's run so what are they left with? Reality shows & banal sitcoms except for less than a handful of dramas worth watching & eventually the return of 'Lost'... When 'Alias', 'Lost' & Invasion' ran consecutively Wednesday nights, I watched ABC for 3 hours straight. Guess I'll be surfing other channels on Wednesday nights this fall?

May 21 2006 at 5:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Rodney

Cancelling 'Invasion' was a dumb decesion but I 'heard' it 'may' be picked up by the new CWB network... 'Invasion' MUST continue on some network if those people running networks have a 'clue' at all? Some of the 'new' shows on ABC sound interesting but I'll have to see if they really are before I start trying to figure them into my TV watching schedule. Moving 'Grey's Anatomy' to late Thursday night is fine with me! Thursday's like Saturdays seem to be throw away nights by ALL the networks so far as what I watch. The ONLY shows I watched regularly on Thursdays last season were 'Smallville & Supernatural', both on WB network... I've never been sucked into the CSI watching mode... I figure if that show is all that good, I can always catch it sometime in the future in rerun... God knows reruns probably will be airing all the time eventually? 'Lost, Boston Legal & Desperate Houswives' are the other returning shows I regularly watch on ABC. Add 'Grey's Anatomy' & there are only 4 total. I can do without any of the rest (ESPECIALLY the reality shows & sitcoms) unless one of the new drama shows strike my fancy?

May 21 2006 at 4:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Rhonda Wheelan

I know that most sitcoms today don't rank with some of the past but I am disappointed that they are slipping off the schedules of all the networks. While I love shows like CSI, Lost, and 24 I think we can all use some laughs in our lives in between all the drama. Shows like Rodney were pulled off the air every few weeks for one reason or another so they were never given a chance to establish a following. It had one of the best supporting casts I've ever seen and with the coolest and cutest kids on the air they could have pulled in large family viewing. Most of the sitcoms just became impossible to find because they were being pulled or moved around every few weeks.

May 19 2006 at 11:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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