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May 19, 2009

ABC's new fall schedule; Wednesday comedy block

Hank ABC’s new fall schedule includes an expanded “Dancing With the Stars,” a two-hour Wednesday night comedy block and apocalyptic thriller “Flash Forward” being used as a lead-in for “Grey’s Anatomy” on Thursday nights (with “Ugly Betty” relegated to Fridays).

On Mondays, “Dancing,” expanded from its usual 90 minutes, will give a strong lead in to sophomore detective drama “Castle,” which showed more ratings heft when provided a direct boost from the reality show at the end of this season.

Mark Burnett's new reality competition "Shark Tank" will run with a "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" lead-in for the first few Tuesday nights in August, after which it will settle into its regular 8 p.m. time slot. The "Dancing" results show remains at 9 p.m. followed by Jerry Bruckheimer's latest crime procedural, "The Forgotten."

Shark tank The headline here is Wednesday nights, where ABC will become the third broadcast network to offer a live-action two-hour comedy block. “Hank,” “The Middle,” “Modern Family” and “Cougar Town” compose the lineup. “Eastwick,” ABC’s update of the John Updike novel, will fill 10 p.m.

Launching an entirely new night of television is something ABC has done before, when it premiered "Pushing Daisies," "Private Practice" and "Dirty Sexy Money" on this night a couple years ago. But having four comedies without a familiar title among them is considered a bold move.

"This is our biggest risk, but our biggest upside as well," said ABC entertainment president Steve McPherson at the network's press conference.

The ABC executive added that "Scrubs" and "Better Off Ted," while better known to viewers, were considered too male-skewing for the lineup. Both shows are planned for sometime in midseason.

A two-hour comedy block on Wednesday was a staple on ABC from 1987 till 2000 with such signature series as "Wonder Years," "Home Improvement" and "The Drew Carey Show." After surrendering the 8 pm hour to "Who Wants to a Millionaire" in the fall of 2000, the network last tried to revive a two-hour Wednesday comedy block in the fall of 2001.

Thursdays will lead off with “Flash Forward,” which is unexpected, followed by the return of “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice.” Leading into a female-driven lineup with a genre should could be considered risky.

"This was a big decision," said McPherson, who said "Flash Forward" is less sci fi than an "intimate epic." He also noted "Lost" likewise launched at 8 p.m.

Flash Forward Asked if "Grey's" actors Katherine Heigl and T.R. Knight are signed up to return next season, McPherson said, "They’re both signed on, I can’t say whether they will both be there," which drew a laugh in the room.

In "Flash," everybody in the world has a vision of their lives six months into the future. Since presumably the entire series wouldn't cover only six months, McPherson said producers have already pitched how the show will carry past its first season.

"It has an extensive multi-season arc," he said. "They've pitched me the last scene from this year ... each season has its own cycle."

Fridays will have "Supernanny," followed by "Ugly Betty" and "20/20."

Sundays remains the same with “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” “Desperate Housewives” and “Brothers & Sisters.”

Also, McPherson confirmed "Cupid" and "According to Jim" are canceled, though said the network plans to run off the remaining "Surviving Suburbia" episodes this summer.

Regarding "Scrubs," the executive said Zach Braff's six contracted episodes may be spread throughout the show's 13-episode order, with showrunner Bill Lawrence still mulling whether he's going to do a complete creative re-boot of the show or merely segue to another generation of interns a' la "ER."

Addressing conflicting about the episode order for midseason sci-fi reboot "V," McPherson suggested the series is both limited and yet extensive -- four seasons.  

Cougar town"At this point we believe the show will be four parts, with each consisting of anywhere from 13 to 22 episodes," McPherson said. "It will have a beginning, middle and end."

Asked about the impact of Jay Leno's 10 p.m. audience, McPherson said, "It's a different audience, I think it's an older audience. It will be interesting to see how many watch that show every night of the week and make it an appointment, that certainly isn't how they do it in late night. We think it's an opportunity that throws up audience for CBS and ourselves."

Here's the schedule chart below.

New shows in RED

Returning shows in BLACK

Returning shows in new time periods in BLUE

Slots with two series titles = "Fall Show / Midseason Show"





Extreme Makeover:
Home Edition


Desperate Housewives
Brothers & Sisters
Amazing Race Three Rivers
Cold Case
Football Night
in America

Sunday Night Football
Cleveland (watch clips) / Sons of Tucson (watch clips)
Family Guy
American Dad /
Cleveland (watch clips)
No programming



Dancing With the Stars
How I Met Your Mother

on Purpose
Two and a Half Men

Big Bang Theory
CSI: Miami
Heroes / Chuck

Trauma / Day One

Jay Leno Show

Lie to Me / 24
No programming
Gossip Girl
One Tree Hill
No programming




Shark Tank
Dancing With the
Stars (results)

The Forgotten (watch clips)
NCIS: Los Angeles
The Good Wife
Biggest Loser
Jay Leno Show
So You Think You Can Dance /
American Idol / Past Life (watch clips)

No programming
Melrose Place
No programming




Hank (watch clips)

The Middle (watch clips)

Modern Family (watch clips)

Cougar Town (watch clips)

Eastwick (watch clips)
New Adventures of Old Christine
Gary Unmarried
Criminal Minds
Parenthood / Mercy

Law & Order: SVU

Jay Leno Show
So You Think You
Can Dance (results)
Glee / Human Target (watch clips)

No programming
America's Next Top Model
 Beautiful Life
No programming




Flash Forward Grey's Anatomy
Private Practice
CSI: Crime Scene

The Mentalist
SNL special (Community)
Parks and Recreation
The Office
(30 Rock)
Jay Leno Show

No programming
Vampire Diaries
Supernatural No programming




Ugly Betty
Ghost Whisperer
Medium Numbers
Law & Order
Jay Leno Show
Brothers (watch clips)
'Til Death
 Dollhouse No programming
Smallville America's Next Top
Model (encore)
No programming


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