Tuned In: Fox builds fall schedule around 'Glee'
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Every year the announcements of new fall series grow more anticlimactic as word of new series pickups and renewals leaks out in the week before the upfronts.
Thanks to these leaks, chronicled in Daily Variety, The Hollywood Reporter and DeadlineHollywoodDaily.com, it's already out there that NBC's "Chuck," ABC's "Scrubs," "Castle" and "Better Off Ted" and CBS's "Cold Case" will be back. Also, CBS will announce tomorrow that "Three Rivers," a Pittsburgh-set transplant drama, will be picked up as a series to air during the 2009-10 TV season.
This year, in addition to studio sources, show creators and actors have been using Twitter to break news themselves. ("Castle" star Nathan Fillion tweeted, "I can't remember the last time I had a second season of ANYTHING. I don't know if I remember what to do. Step one: go to Canada. Relax.")
But what hasn't leaked are the networks' complete, accurate fall schedules, which remain the focus of upfronts, the traditional week when networks announce their fall plans and solicit advertisers "up front," before the start of the TV season in September.
Fox was first out of the gate yesterday with its schedule, largely built around musical comedy "Glee," which has a preview tonight at 9 after "American Idol" and returns for its first season this fall. The show always seemed a perfect match for the "American Idol" audience, but "Idol" won't return until January.
To pave the way for "Glee," Fox will run a new season of "So You Think You Can Dance" in the fall following its regular slot this summer. "Dance" will air for two hours Tuesday in the fall with "Glee" following the results show on Wednesday.
Fox Entertainment president Kevin Reilly said the added benefit of having "Dance" in the fall is that "Idol" can take its place in January, eliminating the need to re-constitute the network's schedule at midseason.
Fox renewed producer Joss Whedon's low-rated "Dollhouse."
"This is a bet on Joss Whedon," Reilly said in a teleconference with reporters, noting that the show's ratings consistently rose when DVR playback was factored in. "That was a pattern we liked and I think you'll see growth next season."
Fox canceled "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles," "Hole in the Wall," "Mad TV" and "Talk Show With Spike Feresten."
Reality shows "Hell's Kitchen" and "Kitchen Nightmares" are not scheduled but new seasons have been ordered. New episodes of "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?" air beginning July 3; its future beyond that remains cloudy.
"24" returns in January, as usual.
Here's Fox's fall schedule, with new series in bold:
8 p.m.: "The Simpsons."
8:30 p.m.: "The Cleveland Show": This animated, long-gestating "Family Guy" spin-off follows Cleveland Brown (voice of Mike Henry) as he moves to Virginia to be with his high school sweetheart and her unruly kids.
9 p.m.: "Family Guy."
10 p.m.: "American Dad."
8 p.m.: "House."
9 p.m.: "Lie to Me."
8 p.m.: "So You Think You Can Dance." (performance show)
8 p.m.: "So You Think You Can Dance." (results show)
9 p.m.: "Glee": Glee club students at an Ohio high school attempt to sing their way out of Loserville.
8 p.m.: "Bones."
9 p.m.: "Fringe."
8 p.m.: "Brothers": Former NFL star Michael Strahan ("Fox NFL Sunday) plays a retired football pro who returns home to help his brother (Daryl "Chill" Mitchell) run a restaurant. CCH Pounder and Carl Weathers play parents to the brothers.
8:30 p.m.: "Til Death."
9 p.m.: "Dollhouse."
8 p.m.: "Cops."
8:30 p.m.: "Cops."
9 p.m.: "America's Most Wanted."
11 p.m.: "The Wanda Sykes Show": Sykes, who has a supporting role on CBS's "New Adventures of Old Christine," will host a weekly panel discussion of topical issues.
"Past Life" (9 p.m. Tuesday): An atypical New York shrink (Kelli Giddish, "All My Children") believes in reincarnation and investigates how past lives cause people present-day problems.
"Human Target" (9 p.m. Wednesday): Based on a DC Comics graphic novel, this adventure series follows Christopher Chance (Mark Valley, "Fringe"), who works as a security guard making himself a human target on behalf of his clients.
"Sons of Tucson" (8:30 p.m. Sunday): Todd Holland, a Kittanning native who grew up in Meadville, executive produces this comedy about a dad-for-hire (Tyler Labine, "Reaper"), who looks after three brothers when their father goes to prison.
Locally produced late-night staple "The It's Alive Show" will jump channels from low-powered WBGN to full-power WPMY.
Channel 22 will begin airing new "It's Alive" episodes Saturdays at midnight starting June 13. Reruns from the first four seasons of the show, which features old horror movies interspersed with locally-produced comedy skits and host segments, will continue to air at 10 p.m. on WBGN.
The shift to WPMY follows an impasse between WBGN and Comcast that resulted in the cable system dropping WBGN. Verizon's FiOS TV has since picked up WBGN.
Producer Mark Menold said "It's Alive" will have a similar arrangement with WPMY as it had with WBGN, with Menold buying time for the show from WPMY and soliciting his own sponsors.
Pittsburgher Jim Martin is nominated for three Daytime Emmys for his work on "Johnny and the Sprites" (outstanding preschool series and directing in a children's series) and "Sesame Street" (directing in a children's series). ... David Tennant ("Doctor Who") has been tapped as the new host of PBS's "Masterpiece: Contemporary."
First Published May 19, 2009 12:00 am