After five seasons at the helm of NBC’s “Crossing Jordan,” series creator Tim Kring is giving up day-to-day oversight of the show. Which is good news for the likes of Greg Grunberg and Ali Larter.
Grunberg and Larter, see, are two of the stars of Kring’s NBC pilot “Heroes,” and the showbiz trade papers report that Kring is ceding show-running duties on “Crossing Jordan” to concentrate more on that show. That’s as good a sign as any, short of an actual announcement, that NBC will give “Heroes,” about a group of people discovering they have superpowers, a pickup for the 2006-07 season.
(Jon Cowan, Robert Rovner and Kelly McCormick will take over for Kring at “Crossing Jordan,” by the way. Kring will retain his executive producer credit.)
NBC is first up at next week’s upfront presentations, announcing its lineup for the fall on Monday. The other networks will follow the rest of the week, and as the announcements approach, speculation about what will make it onto the fall schedule is reaching a crescendo.
In addition to “Heroes,” NBC is said to be high on the dramas “Friday Night Lights,” based on the book and film, and “Raines,” which stars Jeff Goldblum as an eccentric detective who communicates with his dead victims. “Saturday Night Live” writer Tina Fey’s sitcom a clef about the workings of an “SNL”-like show is a leading comedy contender, as are Jay Mohr’s “Community Service” and “20 Good Years,” which stars John Lithgow and Jeffrey Tambor.
Word has also started to seep out about several CBS pilots. Of the dramas, the James Wood-led “Shark,” about a high-powered lawyer, and “Smith,” a crime drama told from the crooks’ point of view, are getting the most ink. “Jericho,” about a small town cut off from the world after a nuclear disaster, and a legal drama from “CSI” exec producer Carol Mendelsohn are also in the mix.
Another CBS pilot, the superhero-meets-“Sex and the City” hour “Ultra,” could be on its way to The CW, the trades say. The new network, half-owned by CBS, apparently didn’t think a great deal of its four drama pilots, although “Runaway” has received some positive buzz.
The dearth of promising new material could be a ray of hope for on-the-bubble shows like The WB’s “Everwood” and “One Tree Hill.” UPN’s “Veronica Mars” is looking like a somewhat safer bet, although it’s not guaranteed yet.
“SIX DEGREES’ OF PICKUPS FOR ABC
ABC, which has brought itself out of the ratings doldrums the past two seasons, apparently won’t be content to coast on its successes come fall.
The network is giving the green light to six new shows – three dramas and three comedies – for the 2006-07 season, and it’s probably not done there. A couple more series could also make the cut when ABC announces its schedule on Tuesday.
For now, ABC has set its sights on the dramas “Six Degrees,” “The Nine” and “Daybreak,” along with comedies “In Case of Emergency,” “Help Me Help You” and “Notes from the Underbelly,” the showbiz trade papers report. The shows feature big names both in front of the camera – Ted Danson stars in “Help Me Help You,” Taye Diggs heads “Daybreak” – and behind it: J.J. Abrams is an executive producer of “Six Degrees,” and “The Nine” comes from “Without a Trace” creator Hank Steinberg.
ABC may have to be more aggressive in its pickups than the rest of the Big Four because it has a sizable hole to plug with the departure of “Monday Night Football.” Its Tuesday and Thursday lineups also need help.
“Six Degrees” follows the lives of six New Yorkers whose lives are connected, even though they’re not aware of it. Raven Metzner and Stu Zicherman (“What About Brian”) wrote the pilot and will executive produce with Abrams; the cast includes Hope Davis (“American Splendor”), Erika Christensen (“Flightplan”) and Jay Hernandez (“Hostel”).
“The Nine,” which Steinberg co-created with his sister K.J., is about the effect a bank robbery has on nine people who were held hostage. The ensemble cast features Chi McBride (“Boston Public”), Scott Wolf (“Everwood”) and Kim Raver (“24”). “Daybreak” stars Diggs (“Rent,” “Kevin Hill”) as a cop who’s framed for murder and has to take it on the lam.
“In Case of Emergency,” which earned a six-episode commitment earlier in pilot season, stars David Arquette, Kelly Hu, Greg Germann and John Silverman as friends brought together by a crisis in one of their lives.
The single-camera “Help Me Help You” marks Danson’s return to series TV, two-plus years after “Becker” ended its run on CBS. He plays a psychologist who leads a therapy group while trying to get his own life straight.
“Notes from the Underbelly” is about the changes to a couple’s life brought on by their impending parenthood. Stacy Traub (“What I Like About You,” “Kitchen Confidential”) wrote it and will executive produce with Eric and Kim Tannenbaum (“Two and a Half Men”).
BRAVO GOES BROADBAND WITH “BRILLIANT’
Bravo is resurrecting the “Brilliant But Cancelled” franchise from its former sister network, Trio. And like Trio, which is now a broadband channel, the “Brilliant” shows will air online.
The new broadband effort, BrilliantButCancelled.com, will go live May 23. The broadband channel will showcase several series Trio featured when it was on the air, such as “EZ Streets” and “Johnny Staccato,” as well as the never-aired NBC comedy “The Jake Effect,” starring a pre-“Arrested Development” Jason Bateman.
Additionally, three hours’ worth of “The Jake Effect” will air on Bravo on May 25, to help draw viewers to the broadband site. Episodes from the “BBC” series will also be on sale at iTunes.
“We have curated some of television’s most extraordinary shows for this site,” says Lauren Zalaznick, the president of Bravo and former head of Trio. “These are programs that pushed the TV envelope, so to speak, but never got the chance they deserved to prove their worth. The joy of this process is uncovering those little gems that failed to find their audience on TV and giving them back to viewers on demand.”
BrilliantButCancelled.com is one of several new projects for Bravo, which announced its development slate this week. The cable channel is also developing several competition shows in the vein of “Project Runway” and “Top Chef” and, in its first foray into the talk-show genre, a vehicle for Joan Rivers.
“Can We Dish?” will feature Rivers hashing out the water-cooler issues of the day with the help of three male sidekicks, some celebrity guests and a live audience. The show marks a return to talk for Rivers, a long-time “Tonight Show” guest host who had her own show on Fox in the late 1980s and in syndication in the early “90s.
Bravo is also launching another broadband channel aimed at gay and lesbian viewers on June 1. OutzoneTV.com will offer, among other things, bonus material from the network’s show “Queer Eye,” the series “Gay Weddings” and the 1972 telefilm “That Certain Summer,” one of the first TV projects to deal directly with gay themes.
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