Category: Upfronts

Fall TV season: Watch sneak previews of ABC's 'Missing' and 'The River' [Video]

ABC unveiled its fall season schedule Tuesday at its upfronts presentation in New York, announcing a pair of midseason dramas, "Missing" and "The River," in which family members go in search of loved ones lost in exotic places.

"Missing," which will be film star Ashley Judd's most prominent TV gig to date, follows her former CIA agent character's desperate quest to find her teenage son, who's been kidnapped in Europe.

Along with Judd ("Kiss the Girls"), the show features Sean Bean ("Game of Thrones") and Cliff Curtis ("Trauma"); Gregory Poirier ("National Treasure: Book of Secrets") is the writer, and executive producers include James Parriott ("Sons of Anarchy") and Steve Shill, Emmy-winning director of "Dexter" who will direct episodes of "Missing."

 

"The River," from Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment, tracks the wife and son of a famous wildlife expert and TV personality who's disappeared in the Amazon. Their journey will be caught on film, verite-style, creating a pseudo-doc-within-a-drama. (That twist is courtesy of Oren Peli, creator of the low-budget blockbuster "Paranormal Activity," who came up with "The River's" story and is a series executive producer).

Bruce Greenwood ("Star Trek"), Leslie Hope ("24"), Paul Blackthorne ("Lipstick Jungle") and Eloise Mumford ("Lone Star") lead the cast.

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-- T.L. Stanley

Fall TV Season: Adult Swim adds a soap opera, crime parody and animated blaxploitation

As Is there any popular TV genre that Adult Swim won't knock off and tear down?

The answer is, "Probably not," judging from the six new series announced late Wednesday for the nighttime cable block, which shares channel space with Cartoon Network. The shows are scheduled to start rolling out this summer.

Adult Swim, which has grown into a programming powerhouse aimed at irony-loving young men, also announced 10 returning series during its upfront presentation in New York. Those include veteran hits "Robot Chicken," "Metalocalpyse," "Squidbillies," "Childrens Hospital" and "Aqua Unit Patrol Squad 1," the adventures of talking food formerly known as "Aqua Teen Hunger Force."

New offerings include "NTSF:SD:SUV," which takes the ever-present crime procedural and turns it on its head. The show -- translated it means "National Terrorism Strike Force: San Diego: Sport Utility Vehicle" -- follows a team of crack government agents protecting that beachside town from the likes of Mexico, Canada and Guam. Like its over-earnest network forerunners, "NTSF" promises ripped-from-the-headlines stories. At least once during the 15-minute episodes, though, expect someone to rip off his sunglasses and deliver a trite line of cheese-filled dialogue. The cast includes Paul Scheer, Rebecca Romjin, Rob Riggle and Kate Mulgrew.

"Black Dynamite," an animated series based on the cult favorite blaxploitation flick from 2009, continues the title character's ongoing battle against kung-fu masters, drug-dealing pimps and The Man. It comes from "Boondocks'" Carl Jones, with voices of the original film's stars (Michael Jai White, Tommy Davidson, Kyn Whitley and Byron Minns). It will air next spring.

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New Fall TV Season: The CW appeals to young people (and that includes Snooki)

Snooki Buffy's back! Sarah Michelle Gellar reunited with the network where she slayed her first vampire on Thursday, presenting her new show “Ringer” during the CW’s presentation of its fall schedule in New York. And judging by the Facebook comments that flashed on the screen before a preview clip from the series aired, Gellar’s fans were pretty psyched. As one girl so eloquently stated: “OMG! OMG! SMG!”

Right now, the CW is banking on that excitement to give it a boost from last year. The freshman entries it unveiled back then, “Nikita” and “Hellcats,” never quite became hits. (“Nikita” will get another chance next season, but “Hellcats” has already been canceled.) But the network still pulls in plenty of women and viewers 18-34, especially with “Gossip Girl” and “90210,” and this year it’s using those shows as lead-ins for more original programming, starring some familiar faces. Gellar’s following  “90210” on Tuesday nights with “Ringer,” a thriller about a woman who hides from her killer by posing as her own twin sister. And Rachel Bilson of “The O.C.” will follow “Gossip Girl” on Monday nights with “Hart of Dixie,” a comedic drama about a New York City doctor who starts a practice in small-town Alabama (think “Everwood” meets “Sweet Home Alabama”). Meanwhile, Snooki and Kim Kardashian will pop up during the Wednesday night “America’s Next Top Model”-anchored reality block with “H8R,” where they’ll face off with the regular folks who can’t stand them and try to win over some fans. Celebrity charity work will be cited, and if that doesn’t work, tears may be shed.

Appealing to more young viewers was clearly on the minds of CW executives Thursday as break dancers head-spun on stage and party-rock group LMFAO sang a song called (yes) “Party Rock Anthem.” Rob Tuck, the CW’s executive vice president of national sales, even gamely danced onto the stage in an LMFAO-style gold jacket and a giant robot mask. And Tyra Banks showed up, both to introduce a forthcoming all-star version of “America’s Next Top Model” (which encourages the models to dance and act) and to praise incoming CW President Mark Pedowitz, who’ll take over the fall schedule, replacing 10-year chief Dawn Ostroff. “I love Mark,” said Banks. “He says, ‘Tyra, I’m gonna be real for you. For real, for real.’” For real, Tyra?

TVupfrontpromo2con Two of the CW’s most successful show runners remained loyal to the network during the fall season:  Josh Schwartz of “The O.C.” brought in “Hart of Dixie,” and Kevin Williamson of “Vampire Diaries” will helm “The Secret Circle,” which follows “Diaries” on Thursday. (“Nikita” and “Supernatural” round out the schedule on Friday.) Based on a series of novels penned by “Vampire Diaries” scribe L.J. Smith, the series focuses on a teenage girl (Brittany Robertson of “Scream 4”) who moves to the town of New Salem, where she discovers that she’s a witch. Set in a very lush green town that looks suspiciously like the backdrop for “Twilight,” the show finds her battling mean girls who literally form a coven with the power to wield good or evil. And you thought your high school was bad.

“One Tree Hill,” which is approaching its final season, will hold until midseason, when the CW will expand its reality programming with two series: “The Frame,” a “Big Brother”-like competition that puts contestants under 24-hour surveillance while they complete challenges, and “Re-Modeled,” a Bravo-style makeover show for modeling agencies in small towns. The crowd’s response to these series felt tepid compared to applause that “Ringer” warranted, but earlier in the presentation, Sarah Michelle Gellar remained upbeat about the whole schedule, insisting that she was glad to join the network that she watches most herself. “Maybe I can finally get some ‘Gossip Girl’ spoilers,” she joked. OMG! OMG! SMG!

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Photo: Snooki. Credit: Elisabetta Villa / Getty Images.

New Fall TV Season: CW announces the return of Sarah Michelle Gellar

Ringer-sarah-michelle-gella

Sarah Michelle Gellar (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) and Rachel Bilson (“The O.C.”) will return to the CW lineup this fall, network executives announced Thursday morning in New York City.  The network has picked up Gellar’s “Ringer,” about a woman hiding from a killer, and Bilson’s “Hart of Dixie,” which follows a New York City doctor’s move to a small town, for a drama- and reality-focused lineup that also includes the celebrity-versus-civilian competition “H8R.”

Here's a look at the schedule (shows in bold are new):

Monday

8 p.m. Gossip Girl

9 p.m. Hart  of Dixie

Tuesday

8 p.m. 90210

9 p.m. Ringer

Wednesday

8 p.m. Next Top Model

9 p.m. H8R

Thursday

8 p.m. Vampire Diaries

9 p.m. The Secret Circle

Friday

8 p.m. Nikita

9 p.m. Supernatural

The network also announced a pair of reality shows slated for mid-season, "The Frame" and "Re-Modeled."

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Photo: Sarah Michelle Gellar in "Ringer" Credit: The CW

Fall TV Season: Ashton Kutcher says he's 'won lotto' as new star of 'Two and a Half Men'

Ashton The newest cast member of "Two and a Half Men" found his way to Carnegie Hall Wednesday.

Appearing for the first time with his co-stars, a bearded Ashton Kutcher greeted advertisers at the CBS fall schedule presentation in New York. He seemed just as humble as in his first statement last week, when he admitted he could not replace Charlie Sheen, star since 2003 of TV's No. 1 sitcom.

"I've never in my 13 years of show business received more calls and emails congratulating me," Kutcher told media buyers at the event. "I almost think I've won the lotto -- which I kind of did."

Jon Cryer, who joined Kutcher with costar Angus Jones, said he was thrilled to be working with his new colleague but had a question for CBS executives.

"Did you have to get a tall guy?," said the diminutive Cryer. "Was that really necessary?"

CBS executives have offered no details on Kutcher's character or how he might be incorporated into the show.

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Photo caption: (l-r) Jon Cryer, with new addition Ashton Kutcher, and Angus T. Jones during their presentation at CBS' Upfront. Credit: Jeffrey R. Staab/CBS.

Fall TV season: Charlie Sheen and Katie Couric: Not yet gone but already forgotten at CBS

Sheen Couric Charlie Sheen and Katie Couric can still be seen on CBS, but network executives are already hard at work trying to scrub away all traces of their estranged stars.

At Wednesday's fall schedule presentation in New York, CBS ran several promo reels that carefully excised Sheen from "Two and a Half Men." That's no small feat, given that he has been the show's star since it premiered in 2003. The trailers instead focused pointedly on costars Jon Cryer and Angus Jones.

Speaking to advertisers, entertainment president Nina Tassler did not mention Sheen by name but said the network had been through a "learning experience" the last few months. Sheen was fired from the show earlier this year after publicly criticizing his bosses; last week, he was replaced by Ashton Kutcher.

Couric, anchor of "CBS Evening News," likewise got the bum's rush — and unlike Sheen she kept reporting for work. The network introduced Scott Pelley as the new anchor but had not a word of thanks for Couric, who is expected to sign a deal for a new talk show with ABC.

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-- Scott Collins (twitter.com/scottcollinsLAT)

Photos: Left: Charlie Sheen in April. Credit: Brian Kersey/Associated Press. Right: Katie Couric earlier this month. Credit: Charles Sykes/Associated Press.

New fall TV season: CBS brings back 'Two and a Half Men' and adds a few surprises

Moonves Welcome to CBS, the one network that isn't going to have a singing or dancing contest on the fall schedule. Or a scary serial with a fairy-tale hook, although the story behind the return of "Two and a Half Men" may qualify on that latter count. 

Announcing its fall schedule in New York Wednesday morning, CBS stuck to its safe zone of comedies and scripted procedurals, even as rivals are banking heavily on talent shows such as Fox's "The X Factor" and NBC's "The Sing-Off." Three new dramas and two new comedies are up for the CBS fall slate, including the crime drama "Person of Interest" in the key 9 p.m. Thursday slot and the female-buddy sitcom "2 Broke Girls" leading in to "Men" on Mondays. 

Schedulers tossed in a few surprises as well. "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," for years the bulwark of CBS' Thursday, will move to 10 p.m. Wednesday, where despite its age it's likely to help boost ratings on a tough night. "The Good Wife" moves from Tuesday to Sunday, where it will take on ABC's "Desperate Housewives" for upscale women viewers (in the fall, NBC has a lock on men that night with football games).

CBS will also gamely try to start a comedy block on usually sleepy Saturday nights by moving "Rules of Engagement" to the 8 p.m. slot -- a rare example of a network bringing original scripted programming to that night. It's also saving "Undercover Boss" for midseason, though its reality staples "Survivor" and "The Amazing Race" will continue uninterrupted.

Of course, all of this was overshadowed by the return of "Two and a Half Men," TV's No. 1 comedy, which was thrown into turmoil after star Charlie Sheen verbally attacked his bosses publicly and was fired earlier this year. Last week, the network announced that it had hired Ashton Kutcher as a replacement.

"We've had a little drama in our lives," CBS Chairman Leslie Moonves told reporters with deliberate understatement at a breakfast meeting Wednesday morning. "I've been chased from every restaurant in Los Angeles the past two months, avoiding questions."

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Fall TV Season: Telemundo lands talk-show host Cristina Saralegui

Christina Cristina Saralegui -- forced last fall to retire from Univision after hosting her popular talk show for 21 years -- has landed a new gig for a weekly variety show at competitor Telemundo.

And the outspoken Cuban-born Spanish-language media icon made it clear this week that her parting from industry leader Univision was definitely not sweet sorrow. 

"Yes, the tiny terror is back," Saralegui thundered into a microphone Tuesday night as she purposely strode across the stage at the American Museum of Natural History  in New York, where Telemundo unveiled its new fall lineup to advertisers.  The crowd -- including advertisers and dozens of employees of Comcast Corp.'s NBCUniversal, which owns Telemundo -- roared its approval with loud applause.

Saralegui thanked Don Browne, president of Telemundo, for giving her "the chance to have a home." She said she had been impressed because Telemundo execcutives had treated her with such respect.

"I'm not used to that," Saralegui said. "I come from another world."

The popular host's signing with Telemundo -- Saralegui's new weekend show is expected to begin at the end of this year -- rachets up the already strong rivalry between the two Spanish-language media companies. 

Although Univision has long dominated the field, Telemundo has made substantial gains in recent months, due, in part, to the success of its top 10 p.m. telenovela, "La Reina del Sur."  Telemundo said Tuesday it had increased its marketshare 16% in key time periods since May 2010.

Telemundo announced a new lineup that included four new telenovelas: "Amor de Película " (Love, Just like in the Movies), "Caídas del Cielo," (Fallen From Heaven), "Física o Química" (Physical or Chemistry), "Una Maid en Manhattan" (Maid in Manhattan).  The company also renewed its agreement to air the Billboard Latin Music Awards and said it would add "Premios Billboard de la Música Regional Mexicana," an awards show dedicated to regional Mexican music. 

Last fall, Univision tried to quietly show Saralegui the door after canceling her weekly "El Show de Cristina."  At the time, Saralegui hinted that her "retirement" was not voluntary.  Tuesday, she called herself a pioneer, "that's what they call old people now,"  the 63-year-old host said, adding,  "I would like to continue to do groundbreaking television, and I want to do that here."

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Photo: Cristina Saralegui in 2010. Credit: Pedro Portal/El Nuevo Herald.

Fall TV Season: Technical difficulties slow Turner Broadcasting's upfront presentation

Conan obrien
A power surge blew out Turner Broadcasting's programming presentation to advertisers in the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York.

The technical difficulties started soon after Conan O'Brien finished a roast of TBS, the cable channel he joined after leaving NBC last year. Steve Koonin, president of Turner Entertainment Networks, did an admirable job entertaining the crowd during the outage.

He added that while he may be the former president of Turner, commercial prices won't go down.

The problem was fixed briefly, only to return about 20 minutes later.

In his opening bit, O'Brien didn't show his new bosses at Turner Broadcasting much love during the cable channel's presentation of new programming to advertisers.

While it is common for talent to take shots at their network bosses when performing at so-called upfront presentations, O'Brien's routine at times seemed more nasty than loving. Besides the usual jokes about cheaper budgets on cable -- he said Turner put him up in a hotel in the Bronx -- he also told attendees to gear up for clips from their favorite "Seinfeld" reruns.

Poking fun at Michael Wright, the Turner executive in charge of original programming who was once an actor, O'Brien cracked, "I saw him acting like TBS had original programming."

O'Brien joked that after this performance fans could follow him to Animal Planet.

-- Joe Flint

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Fall TV Season: TNT and TBS announce new shows; Conan goes on the road

Conan%202(1) Time Warner's cable network unit Turner Broadcasting, parent of TBS, TNT and Cartoon Network, announced new shows to advertisers Wednesday morning.

Among the new shows are: "Major Crimes," starring Mary McDonnell, which premieres on TNT after the series finale of "The Closer" early next year. Also new is a mystery movie lineup on Tuesday nights from a host of bestselling crime authors. Among the works and writers slated for the new movie slot are: Scott Turow's "Innocent," Richard North Patterson’s "Silent Witness," Sandra Brown’s "Ricochet," Lisa Gardner’s "Hide," April Smith’s "Good Morning, Killer," and Mary Higgins Clark and Carol Higgins Clark’s "Deck the Halls."

Meanwhile, TBS is adding new comedies including "The Wedding Band,"an hourlong comedy starring Brian Austin Green and Harold Perrineau, who spend their spare time performing in a band. The series is to premiere in summer 2012. 

Also, Conan O'Brien will take his late-night talk show on the road for the first time next season, making stops in New York and Chicago.

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Fall TV Season: CBS releases its 2011-2012 prime-time schedule featuring five new shows; 'Good Wife' moves to Sundays

Person 

CBS unveiled its fall TV prime-time schedule Wednesday morning in New York City. The network with the most total viewers will have five new shows this fall, three dramas and two comedies. Their aging crime drama "CSI" is moved to Wednesday nights, while "Good Wife" shifts to Sunday.

MONDAY

8:00-8:30 PM              HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER

8:30-9:00 PM              2 BROKE GIRLS (N)

9:00-9:30 PM              TWO AND A HALF MEN

9:30-10:00 PM            MIKE & MOLLY

10:00-11:00 PM          HAWAII FIVE-0

TUESDAY

8:00-9:00 PM              NCIS

9:00-10:00 PM            NCIS: LOS ANGELES

10:00-11:00 PM          UNFORGETTABLE (N)

WEDNESDAY

8:00-9:00 PM              SURVIVOR: SOUTH PACIFIC

9:00-10:00 PM            CRIMINAL MINDS

10:00-11:00 PM          CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION (NT)

THURSDAY

8:00-8:30 PM              THE BIG BANG THEORY

8:30-9:00 PM              HOW TO BE A GENTLEMAN (N)

9:00-10:00 PM            PERSON OF INTEREST (N)

10:00-11:00 PM          THE MENTALIST

FRIDAY

8:00-9:00 PM              A GIFTED MAN (N)

9:00-10:00 PM            CSI: NY

10:00-11:00 PM          BLUE BLOODS

SATURDAY

8:00-8:30 PM              RULES OF ENGAGEMENT (NT)

8:30-9:00 PM              COMEDYTIME SATURDAY

9:00-10:00 PM            CRIMETIME SATURDAY

10:00-11:00 PM          48 HOURS MYSTERY

SUNDAY

7:00-8:00 PM              60 MINUTES

8:00-9:00 PM              THE AMAZING RACE

9:00-10:00 PM            THE GOOD WIFE (NT)

10:00-11:00 PM          CSI: MIAMI

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Photo: Jim Caviezel, left, and Michael Emerson star in the J.J. Abrams crime thriller "Person of Interest," which premieres this fall. Credit: Jeffrey R. Staab/CBS

Fall TV season: Watch sneak previews of ABC comedies 'Apartment 23' and 'Work It' [Video]

ABC unveiled its fall schedule Tuesday at its upfronts presentation in New York, announcing two midseason fish-out-of-water comedies: one about a Midwestern girl out of her element but finding her footing in the big city, "Apartment 23," and the other about two alpha males who pose as chicks to get jobs as pharmaceutical sales reps in "Work It."

"Apartment 23," formerly known as "Don't Trust the Bitch in Apartment 23," shows how fresh-faced heartland girl June (Dreama Walker, "Gossip Girl") gets taken for a ride when she moves to Manhattan. She toughens up with the "help" of her scamming roommate, Chloe (Krysten Ritter), and James Van Der Beek (playing himself, or a snarky version thereof).

The comedy comes from writer/creator Nahnatchka Kahn ("American Dad").

"Work It," latching onto the current "mancession," centers on two friends who masquerade as women -- Spanx, stilettos and all -- to find good-paying jobs. It's a mix of workplace, buddy and family comedy, leaving romance the only TV trope uncovered. (Chances are that'll happen, too).

The series stars Ben Koldyke ("How I Met Your Mother") and Amaury Nolasco ("Prison Break"), along with Beth Lacke ("Happy Hour"), Rebecca Mader ("Lost") and John Caparulo ("Chelsea Lately). It comes from Andrew Reich and Ted Cohen ("Friends," "Rules of Engagement").

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-- T.L. Stanley

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