Networks Offer Peek at Fall Schedules

Present Buyers With Sampling of Pilot Lineups

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The broadcast networks revealed their development slate last week with buyers getting some idea of who and what might end up on the small screen come fall 2006. NBC offered buyers perhaps the most detailed look at its proposals for fall, with the network giving agencies pilots of two series already ordered, "Kidnapped" and "The Black Donnellys," along with some of its summer programming.

Fox's Peter Liguori presented pilots to media buyers last week, among them a thriller starring Matthew Lillard titled '13 Graves.'

NBC also laid out potential cross-platform opportunities, citing "The Office," which will air on the Web this summer, as an example.

Mid-season launches
Among NBC's entertainment president Kevin Reilly's pilot pickups, "Studio 60" piqued the interest of Shari Anne Brill, Carat VP-director of programming.

"I was intrigued by NBC and excited about the new Aaron Sorkin show ['Studio 60']. I was wondering how reminiscent it would be of 'SportsNight' [a previous Sorkin series.]" Ms. Brill said the networks are moving to a two-part year in which mid-season launches are no longer second-tier choices for networks.

Donna Speciale, president of U.S. broadcast and programming at Publicis Groupe's MediaVest, gave the thumbs up to the high production values of Fox's pilots, presented by entertainment president Peter Liguori, and particularly liked "13 Graves," a show that could partner with existing hits "24" and "Prison Break," and a new late-night talk show that had "definite potential."

Attendees thought ABC's presentation, which featured Geri Wang, senior VP-primetime sales, interviewing entertainment President Stephen McPherson, could have been more detailed. ABC did not show clips, except for footage from its as yet untitled Sept. 11 mini-series project, which was well received. One buyer, though, wondered if such somber specials really lend themselves to advertising, suggesting a single sponsor would be the way to go as the special moves forward.

CW sticks with name
The CW confirmed it would move ahead with its existing name as the merger between the WB and UPN nears completion. Harry Keeshan, exec VP-national broadcast buying at PHD, said the network gave a good presentation given that executives had only been on the job for five weeks. "They're staying with youth and diversity. That was good."

Commenting on the upcoming week of meetings, Mr. Keeshan added: "It is extremely beneficial. You can get some top time with individual programming heads and the writers." He said the meetings are a great way to gather information about each network's night-by-night strategy and get indications of which shows could move elsewhere.

CBS is due to present its slate March 23.

WHAT'S IN DEVELOPMENT FOR NEXT SEASON

Photo: AP
Ted Danson
ABC

Comedies:
Help Me Help You
Ted Danson stars in this series about a disparate group of people who are connected through therapy.

52 Fights
The series is based on the book of the same name, about the transition from dating to marriage.

Him and Us
The series revolves around relationships between fictional rock star Max Slash (Anthony Stewart Head from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer") and those around him, including manager Freddy Lazarus, played by Kim Cattrall. Elton John is an executive producer.

In Case of Emergency
David Arquette stars in the story of four friends from high school who unexpectedly reunite during a crossroad in their lives.

Dramas:
Brothers & Sisters
A family soap opera. Ken Olin is an executive producer. The high-profile cast includes Balthazar Getty, Calista Flockhart and Patricia Wettig.

Men in Trees
A female shrink, played by Anne Heche, moves to Alaska after learning her husband has been cheating on her only to find herself surrounded by available men.

Ugly Betty
Salma Hayek is an executive producer for this series about an unattractive girl who is hired by a Vogue-like fashion magazine because the publication's owner wants to stop his habit of sleeping with attractive assistants. America Ferrera ("The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants") stars as Betty.

Photo: AP
Fred Willard
CBS

Comedies:
Play Nice
An odd couple brother and sister run a family toy company together. Swoosie Kurtz and Fred Willard star.

You've Reached the Elliots
Chris Elliot plays a husband and father who tries to find a way to spend more time with his family without totally abandoning his modest showbiz career.

Dramas:
Jericho
A mushroom cloud appears on the horizon, isolating a small town and plunging its residents into social, psychological and physical chaos.

Orpheus
An epic romance with Nick D'agosto, Mena Suvari and Fairuza Balk chronicling a young man's journey into the seductive world of a sophisticated modern-day cult.

Ultra
Based on a popular comic book, this fast-paced action-adventure series centers on a modern female superhero who balances the demands of "greatness" with her social calendar.

Waterfront
Joe Pantoliano stars as the wildly charismatic and ethically challenged mayor of Providence, R.I. Billy Baldwin and Mary Stuart Masterson are also part of the cast.

Shark
Spike Lee directs this series about an infallible defense attorney, played by James Woods, who brings his cutthroat manifesto to the Los Angeles district attorney's high-profile crime unit.

The CW

Comedies:
The Game
A woman learns the game played by the wives and girlfriend of NFL athletes after her boyfriend becomes the new third-string wide receiver for the San Diego Sabers.

She Said He Said
The series shows how men and women approach dating from completely different directions.

Photo: AP
Darren Star
Dramas:
Split Decision
A 15-year-old girl splits her life in two and assumes two distinct personas -- one a sensitive misfit, the other a popular cheerleader. Aaron Spelling is executive-producer.

Palm Springs
A 15-year-old boy moves to Palm Springs to live with his mother and her new husband after his father commits suicide.

Aquaman
A super-hero drama based on the classic D.C. comics character.

Runaways
In this Darren Star production, a family of five is on the run. After the father is unjustly convicted of a violent crime, they are forced to use secret identities to avoid the law.

Fox

Comedies:
The Adventures of Big Handsome Guy and His Little Friend
Based on the short film of the same name that was a huge hit on the festival circuit, big handsome guy is charismatic and successful; his best friend since childhood is a small intellectual who is always getting the short end of the stick. Hayes MacArthur and Jason Winder are the series co-stars, co-creators and co-writers.

'Till Death
The series, starring Brad Garrett ("Everyone Loves Raymond"), looks at marriage from two wildly different perspectives, a long-married couple and two newlyweds who live next door to each other.

Photo: AP
Brad Garrett

The Twelfth Man
Based on the ESPN.com blog of real-life 12th man Paul Shirley, the series is about a pro ball player who spends most of his time warming the bench.

The Worst Week of My Life
The series, told in seven-episode arcs, traces the weeks prior to a married couple's major life events (their wedding, the birth of their first child, moving into their first home). Each episode represents a day.

Dramas:
Beyond
In this ensemble drama set at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a meteorite carrying a deadly virus crashes to Earth, and the team at JPL embark on an urgent, high-stakes mission to explore space.

Primary
This procedural drama invovles two romantically involved hostage negotiators.

Southern Comfort
A woman is forced to take over the family business when her husband is thrown in jail; she soon finds out that the family business is actually the Dixie Mafia. The series stars Eric Roberts and Madeline Stowe.

13 Graves
A thriller revolving around a man's search for his missing brother, starring Matthew Lillard.

NBC

Comedies:
Community Service
Jay Mohr plays a New York real-estate agent who loses everything. He travels to a rural town to seek out a lost love and gets trapped there when he is sentenced to community service after an altercation with a police officer.

Photo: AP
Tina Fey
Tina Fey Project
Tina Fey stars as a producer of a fictional TV show in this workplace comedy.

Andy Barker, P.I.
Andy Richter stars as a C.P.A. accidentally turned P.I. Conan O'Brian is an executive producer.

20 Good Years
John Lithgow stars as one of two mismatched buddies who vow to make the most out of their next 20 years.

Dramas:
Studio 60 An all-star cast including Matthew Perry, Amanda Peet, Steven Weber and D.L. Hughley portray the drama that goes on behind the scenes of a late-night sketch comedy series. Aaron Sorkin and Thomas Schlamme (both producers on the "West Wing") executive produce.

The Black Donnelleys
The story of four Irish brothers living in New York's Hell's Kitchen and their involvement with organized crime. Paul Haggis (director and screenwriter of this year's Academy Award-winning best picture, "Crash") co-wrote and directed the pilot.

Friday Night Lights
The series follows a high school football program in the fictional small town of Dillon, Texas. Kyle Chandler ("Early Edition," "King Kong") stars as Coach Eric Taylor.

~ ~ ~
Leslie Taylor contributed to this report.

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