Come Fall, It's Tyra and Ashton's World, and We're Just Watching It
Tyra Banks continues her march through the TV landscape, ditto Ashton Kutcher, while Oprah has thrown in the towel on Day 2 of Broadcast TV Upfront Week.
ABC is adding just two new series on its fall schedule. One is a remake of the BBC series "Life on Mars," for which David E. Kelley snapped up the rights, and developed to sell to the network. The other is a reality series produced by Kutcher called "Opportunity Knocks," which will get the Tuesday 8 o'clock time slot. The addition of "Life on Mars" at 10 on Thursdays is the only other change.
The lack of a bajillion new series frees up ABC's promo and marketing departments to relaunch freshman series clipped by the writers' strike last fall. "Pushing Daisies," "Private Practice" and "Dirty Sexy Money" all are scheduled in their old Wednesday slots in a sort of Do-Over Night.
"Oprah's Big Give" is gone because, as ABC programming chief Steve McPherson told reporters at a news conference Tuesday morning, Oprah wanted it that way. The "Desperate Housewives" broke out in a happy dance over her "decision" because they once again will have the much stronger "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" lead-in, as in the good old pre-Oprah days.
Also put out of our misery are ABC's "Cavemen," "Women's Murder Club," "Men in Trees," "October Road," "Big Shots," "Carpoolers," "Cashmere Mafia," "Miss/Guided" and "Notes From the Underbelly."
This makes way for McPherson to pick up "Scrubs," which got dumped by NBC. McPherson, who developed the show for NBC when he was head of series production for ABC parent Disney, noted NBC had moved "Scrubs" into 17 time slots over seven years, yet it was finishing behind only NBC's "The Office" on Thursdays. "It's a great addition for us and helps as we expand our comedy brand," he said.
Eighteen episodes have been ordered, McPherson said, and "Scrubs" will debut Tuesdays at 9 once "Dancing With the Stars" wraps its fall edition. "Scrubs" star Zach Braff, however, says on his Web site that the series finale will air on ABC this fall. They really need to get together and talk.
In exchange for ceding control of "Life on Mars," ABC agreed to return Kelley's "Boston Legal" for 13 more episodes, but it will be the show's last season, McPherson said. Kelley will write nearly every episode, he added.
The pilot is being reworked but "Mars" is still about a cop who is hit by a car and winds up in the 1970s -- a time when cops thought DNA was a chemical in rat poison, according to the clip shown to the press. "Mars" is getting the plummiest Thursday 10 p.m. slot.
The lone new reality series, Kutcher's "Opportunity Knocks," gets the Tuesday 8 p.m. hour. Imagine a production team knocking at your door, their flatbed truck laden with new furniture, a flat-screen TV and bags of cash that you can win if you can answer some questions about your family and your neighborhood. Questions such as: "Which of these four guys here has delivered your mail for the past eight years?" and "Which of these six pimply-faced young God-help-us-es gave your daughter her first kiss?"
ABC's fall schedule will roll out during the traditional Premiere Week -- this year the week of Sept. 22 -- McPherson said. But, owing largely to the writers'-strike-induced work stoppage, ABC still has 17 pilots in development. He expects comedies to be ordered sometime in August and dramas the following month, to debut later in the season.