Upfront 07

ABC Slots Seven New Dramas, Four New Comedies

Geico's Cavemen Get Prime Slot on Tuesday Nights

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- ABC unveiled its fall schedule this morning and handed insurance marketer Geico's ad spokespeople, the Cavemen, a shot at the big time. The sitcom is one of four new comedies and seven new dramas premiering later this year, along with a cause-related series from Oprah Winfrey.
The cast of the upcoming ABC sitcom 'Cavemen'
The cast of the upcoming ABC sitcom 'Cavemen' Credit: ABC

"Cavemen" will air at 8 p.m. on Tuesdays, a night ABC is building around the results portion of its hit reality show "Dancing with the Stars." ABC's entertainment president, Steve McPherson, speaking at a press conference for the media and network affiliates this morning, said "Cavemen" was such a strong project that the creative team from the marketer's ad agency, the Martin Agency, were able to stay on board. Much as they do in the commercials they pitch for, the cavemen will confront issues of race in America and look at how they try to fit into the world -- humorously, of course.

Product placement for Geico?
As for whether Geico commercials would appear during the sitcom's commercial breaks, Mr. McPherson said, "There will be a time when the Geico commercials will come on when we're promoting the show and it is part of the arrangement [for Geico] to promote it." He added that the two parties might collaborate on product placement but, as yet, there wasn't an agreement to do so.

As for why many of the network's serialized dramas failed this season, Mr. McPherson said that, in hindsight, the public just couldn't handle the dark storylines and that the viewing public had experienced a "tonal shift" toward more lighthearted or escapist programming.

"You look at the news everyday and Paris Hilton is going to jail," he joked, "Shows like 'The Nine,' 'Daybreak,' 'Kidnapped' and 'Vanished,' people didn't show up for those shows and we listened to that." He said the network's current crop of hit shows, "Ugly Betty" and "Brothers and Sisters," which had their debuts this season, had an escapist theme in common. He even included rival NBC's comic book-esque (and serialized drama) "Heroes" in that category.

Defending 'Lost'
The network's lone -- and highly successful -- serialized drama, "Lost," is returning to its original 9 p.m. slot on Wednesdays from 10 p.m. Mr. McPherson said the move was made, at least in part, because of increased time-shifting by consumers with digital video recorders at the later hour. "That's a factor of being on at 10 p.m. and I'd like to get it into an earlier hour," he said.

Making it on to the slate for the first time are seven dramas, including another attempt to rebottle the "Sex and the City" magic. While NBC has "Lipstick Jungle," based on the book by Candace Bushnell, who also penned the stories the HBO comedy was based on, ABC is offering "Cashmere Mafia" from onetime "Sex and the City" producer Darren Star. The new show is about four female friends with demanding careers and complex personal lives and stars Lucy Liu.

As for negative fan reaction to "Private Practice," the "Grey's Anatomy" spin-off, Mr. McPherson acknowledged that the show, which had a debut this month, had perhaps tried to introduce too many characters without enough story. He said that issue would be addressed. "We feel like there's some work to do. This is not an imitation of "Grey's." It's an exploration. This is a world where people really know each other well. ... We've got to hit the stories stronger. What [creator] Shonda Rhimes does brilliantly is the conflict between people. We'll see a lot more of that."

Oprah's reality show
ABC also ordered eight episodes of "Oprah's Big Give," a reality show that has contestants give away millions of dollars to people in need. Each week contestants will face a "big twist" that will test their nerve, drive, ingenuity and passion, with celebrity guest stars making appearances.

Other new shows include "Sam I Am," a comedy for Monday nights starring Christina Applegate as a woman with amnesia; the sitcom "Carpoolers," about four men who have little in common beyond their commute that will be paired with "Caveman" on Tuesdays; "Pushing Daisies," a rather complicated tale of a man who can bring dead things back to life, including his childhood sweetheart; "Dirty Sexy Money," a series about a lawyer employed to work for a powerful family; "Big Shots," about a group of CEOs who can't seem to handle their personal lives; and "Women's Murder Club," a series based on the James Patterson novels set in San Francisco about four women who solve crimes. "Cashmere Mafia," "Miss/Guided," about a woman who returns to her high school as a guidance counselor, and "Eli Stone," about a lawyer who changes his ways when faced with a brain aneurysm, will all be scheduled for later in the season.

In addition to the new series, ABC renewed "Brothers & Sisters," "Men in Trees," "Ugly Betty," "Grey's Anatomy," "Lost," "Desperate Housewives," "Boston Legal," "Jimmy Kimmel Live," "Dancing with the Stars," "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," "The Bachelor," "Supernanny," "America's Funniest Home Videos" and "Wife Swap." "October Road" and "Notes From the Underbelly" will return for second seasons as well.

8:00 p.m. "Dancing with the Stars"
9:30 p.m. "Sam I Am" *
10:00 p.m. "The Bachelor"

8:00 p.m. "Cavemen" *
8:30 p.m. "Carpoolers" *
9:00 p.m. "Dancing with the Stars the Results Show"
10:00 p.m. "Boston Legal"

8:00 p.m. "Pushing Daisies" *
9:00 p.m. "Private Practice" *
10:00 p.m. "Dirty Sexy Money" *

8:00 p.m. "Ugly Betty"
9:00 p.m. "Grey's Anatomy"
10:00 p.m. "Big Shots" *

8:00 p.m. "Men in Trees"
9:00 p.m. "Women's Murder Club" *
10:00 p.m. "20/20"

8:00 p.m. "Saturday Night College Football"

7:00 p.m. "America's Funniest Home Videos"
8:00 p.m. "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition"
9:00 p.m. "Desperate Housewives"
10:00 p.m. "Brothers & Sisters"

* Denotes new programs
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