NEW YORK May 17, 2005 — Geena Davis will portray a female president and Freddie Prinze a luckless bachelor surrounded by women this fall on ABC, which released a fall schedule Tuesday designed to capitalize on this season's unexpected success.
ABC liberally shuffled its schedule but didn't touch Sundays, when the network's fortunes improved dramatically after "Desperate Housewives" and "Grey's Anatomy" became hits.
Meanwhile, the youth-obsessed WB network unveiled a schedule heavily dependent on stars from another era like Melanie Griffith, Don Johnson (not together) and Fran Drescher.
ABC will require its fans to check program guides this fall: "Alias" switches to Thursday, "George Lopez" to Wednesday, "Boston Legal" to Tuesday and "Supernanny" to Friday. One of its biggest new hits "Lost" moves back an hour to 9 p.m. on Wednesday and "According to Jim" moves up an hour to 8 p.m. on Tuesday.
Got that? And that's before sprinkling in three new dramas and two comedies.
ABC canceled the Damon Wayans comedy "My Wife and Kids" and "8 Simple Rules," which survived two years following the death of star John Ritter. "Blind Justice" and "Extreme Makeover" were also axed. "Less Than Perfect" will return in midseason.
But the network surprisingly renewed a handful of comedies that seemed threatened by poor ratings: "Hope & Faith," "George Lopez" and "Jake in Progress." ABC spread its sitcoms over three nights, four after "Monday Night Football" ends its final year on ABC.
Davis stars with Donald Sutherland in "Commander-in-Chief." She assumes the presidency with twin teenagers and a 6-year-old at home, and a party that wants her to resign rather than take over for a dying president.
"It's not a political story," said Stephen McPherson, ABC entertainment president. "It's the story of a woman; it's the story of a wife; it's the story of a family."
Three decades after his late father became a sitcom star on "Chico and the Man," Prinze will lead "Freddie," playing a chef who lives with his sister, sister-in-law, niece and grandmother.
The new drama "Invasion" is about a sneaky alien attack and is "a big show in the vein of `Lost,' in terms of high concept and being noisy and exciting," McPherson said.
September's schedule will also include "Hot Properties," a comedy about four women who work in a Manhattan real estate office, and a remake of the short-lived 1970s occult series "Kolchak: The Night Stalker."
After the football season, ABC will turn Mondays into a showcase for single people looking for love, with a new comedy starring Heather Graham and a new drama about the last man in a group of friends to get married. The network also ordered five other series that will debut sometime during the year, including two procedural dramas and a comedy produced by "Saturday Night Live" creator Lorne Michaels.
ABC renewed both of its ratings-troubled newsmagazines, "20/20" and "Primetime Live."
Both ABC and the WB are shifting well-known series to a Thursdays, a night networks have essentially conceded to CBS and NBC in the past. Depending on your perspective, the moves of ABC's "Alias" and the WB's "Smallville" and "Everwood" can either be seen as a bold attempt to become competitive or a death sentence for old favorites.
The WB's new schedule casts Johnson in "Just Legal" as an alcohol-soaked lawyer who teams with an 18-year-old whiz kid. Griffith plays a ditzy mom in the situation comedy "Twins." Drescher's cradle-robbing comedy "Living with Fran," a midseason success, returns on Friday nights.
Want more 1980s icons? George Wendt (Norm!!!) plays a dad in the midseason series "Modern Men."
The WB, long a network favored by teenage girls, is trying to broaden its audience, said Garth Ancier, its chairman. "We went about dispelling a notion that if you produce a show on the WB, the lead characters have to be in high school," he said.
Still, the WB repeatedly flashed the motto "Be Young" on screens during Tuesday's presentation to advertisers, and the midseason fare includes a drama about attractive college students in a sexuality class.
Other new fall series are "Related," a drama about four sisters created by a former "Friends" producer and "Sex and the City" writer, and "Supernatural," about two brothers navigating a terror-filled world of the unexplained.
The WB canceled "Steve Harvey's Big Time," "Grounded for Life" and the well-regarded series about battling brothers, "Jack & Bobby."
Despite a relentless search for the hip and happening, the WB's most popular show, "7th Heaven," will return for a tenth season making it the longest-running family drama ever on TV. Since it began airing Mondays a decade ago, it has competed against a staggering 86 different programs on other networks.
Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.