Monday, May 16, 2005
NEW YORK (AP) -- Seeking to climb out of the ratings cellar, NBC will have Martha Stewart picking a protege and singer Amy Grant making wishes come true when the new season begins this fall.
NBC said Monday that it will introduce six new series in September, including only one comedy: "My Name is Earl," featuring Jason Lee ("Chasing Amy") as a downtrodden lottery winner. NBC is canceling the fourth installment of the "Law & Order" series, "Trial By Jury," which lost star Jerry Orbach shortly after production began. The Mark Burnett/Sylvester Stallone boxing series "The Contender," "American Dreams" and "Third Watch" are also not returning.
Illustrating how television schedules are constantly in flux, NBC promised two other new comedies would come on the air sometime next season. Two shows not on the September schedule, "Scrubs" and "Fear Factor," will also return at some point, NBC said.
NBC is moving the political drama "The West Wing" to Sunday nights, with the campaign to replace Martin Sheen as the mythical president continuing.
All the broadcast networks release their fall schedules this week, and NBC was first in line. The network is finishing up a miserable season, slipping to fourth among the 18-to-49-year-old viewers its advertisers want. NBC failed to replace the departed "Friends" and "Frasier" with any new hits.
Despite losing ground to CBS on what was once its most popular night, NBC said it is returning its Thursday schedule intact: including the troubled "Friends" spinoff "Joey."
Stewart's starring role in "The Apprentice" will give NBC two versions of the boardroom game running this fall. The home improvement queen's show will air Wednesday night, with Donald Trump keeping his Thursday time slot.
Gospel singer Grant stars in "Three Wishes," a reality show where she travels across the country trying to transform lives by paying medical bills, making dreams come true and the like. It's a nod to the popularity of makeover shows like ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition."
NBC will air three new dramas: "E-Ring," a Jerry Bruckheimer production with Dennis Hopper and Benjamin Bratt, about life in the Pentagon; "Fathom," about a creepy new form of sea life; and "Inconceivable," a medical show set in a fertility clinic.
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