Network Hopes New shows Deliver a Nightly 'Happy Hour'

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NEW YORK ( -- In the wake of one of the worst years for any TV network, ABC Television has drastically revamped its prime-time schedule, adding three new comedies and four new dramas.

True to its promise of going back to family-oriented shows, the network, a division of the Walt Disney Co., has added sitcoms and moved other shows into its key 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. time slots -- a period it is developing under the theme "Happy Hour." Bcom3 Group's Leo Burnett Co., Chicago, is the creative agency developing that branding campaign.

Three of the new comedies will arrive on Tuesday night. 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter, starring John Ritter as a father dealing with his two daughters, will run at 8 p.m. At 9 p.m., Life With Bonnie, developed by its star, Bonnie Hunt, is a part-scripted, part-improvisational sitcom about a local TV show host. At 9:30 p.m., the office workplace comedy Less Than Perfect is scheduled.

'We love the shows'
"None of us have

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the expectation or illusion that they are going to explode out of the gate," said Lloyd Braun, chairman of ABC Entertainment, speaking today at the network's upfront presentation, about the new comedies. "But we love the shows. We want to keep them in there, nurture them, and let them go."

A new version of Dragnet from Law & Order creator Dick Wolf is scheduled for Mondays at 9 p.m. This is followed by another drama, Miracles, about a man who investigates modern-day miracles.

On Wednesdays, ABC is bringing back a current mid-season comedy, The George Lopez Show, at 8:30 p.m., and reality show The Bachelor II at 9 p.m. Meds, about two renegade doctors at a hospital managed by a stern HMO company, airs at 10 p.m.

Competitive Thursday
For the always hotly competitive Thursdays, the network is turning its recent May sweeps dinosaur-adventure "mega-series" Dinotopia into an ongoing series at 8 p.m. On its heels will be Push, Nevada, a Twin Peaks-like drama about an FBI investigator that is produced by LivePlanet, the company run by actors Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.

"The audience is elastic [on Thursdays]," said Susan Lyne, president of ABC Entertainment. "So we decided to be aggressive."

On Fridays, That Was Then, a drama about a salesman who goes back in time to when he was 16, airs at 9 p.m.

Come mid-season, ABC will replace Politically Incorrect with a new half-hour late-night talk show featuring Jimmy Kimmel, a co-host on Comedy Central's lewd The Man Show.

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