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Sean Daly, Michelle Stark and Sharon Kennedy Wynne

ABC Hopes Lightning Strikes Twice. Again.

The tragic truth of today's TV game is that any network is just one or two hits from stupefying success. Or oblivion.

Just ask ABC, which spent two years riding the success of blockbusters Lost and Desperate Housewives -- developed, in part, by execs fired before they hit air -- only to face a daunting question.

What's next?

This year, ABC's answer is the kitchen sink approach, announcing today 15 new series over the course of 2006-07, including a show about robbing Mick Jagger (originally titled Let's Rob Jeff Goldblum. Seriously!) and series featuring Calista Flockhart, Anne Heche, Ted Danson (?!), Chi McBride, Taye Diggs and America Ferrara.

Out the door: Rodney, Sons & Daughters, Invasion, the newsmagazine Primetime, The Evidence, Commander in Chief, Freddie, Hope and Faith and Emily's Reasons Why Not (apparently, because nobody was watching). Grey's Anatomy moves to Thursdays facing stiff competition from CBS powerhouse CSI and NBC's buzzed-about Matthew Perry vehicle, Studio 60.

And Dancing with the Stars moves to two nights a week; a track record of head-scratching success matched only by Deal or No Deal's Howie Mandel and Idol reject William Hung.

What jumps out here is ABC's thirst for hip cachet (series directed by or produced by Jon Favreau, Salma Hayek, J.J. Abrams and Barry Sonnenfeld). Also the network seems addicted to slowly evolving episodic pieces -- Abrams' Six Degrees features New Yorkers slowly realizing they are connected, McBride's The Nine portrays a hostage standoff in a bank over a season, Big Day spends a season on wedding preparations and Diggs' Day Break finds him reliving the same day, over and over, to figure out who framed him for murder. Didn't the death of similarly stretched out series like Invasion, Surface, Heist and Thief teach these guys anything?

By far, the most interesting projects include Let's Rob..., which looks on paper like a My Name is Earl ripoff starring Donal Logue as a guy whose epiphany is -- let's rip off Mick Jagger (ABC execs changed from Goldblum, who had a deal with NBC, to Jagger when entertainment president Stephen McPherson went to a Stones concert; how L.A. is that?)

Betty the Ugly was originally conceived as an English-language take on the telenovella, but got reworked by ABC into a comedy about a playboy fashion magazine who bonds with his assistant (Ferrera, from The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants) who is so plain he wouldn't think of sleeping with her. Ugh.

You've come a long way, ladies. Or maybe not.

My last question: Why is a network cyber-savvy enough to stream episodes over the Internet have no mention of its new fall slate on its web site, ABC.com?

Just askin'.

MONDAY:
8:00 p.m. “Wife Swap”
9:00 p.m. “The Bachelor”/”Supernanny”
10:00 p.m. “What About Brian”

TUESDAY:
8:00 p.m. “Dancing with the Stars” (new night)/”Set for the Rest of Your Life”
9 p.m. “Let’s Rob…”
9:30 p.m. “Help Me Help You”
10:00 p.m. “Boston Legal”

WEDNESDAY:
8:00 p.m. “Dancing with the Stars” (new night)/”George Lopez”/“According to Jim” (new night)
9:00 p.m. “Lost”
10:00 p.m. “The Nine”

THURSDAY:
8:00 p.m. “Big Day”
8:30 p.m. “Notes from the Underbelly”
9:00 p.m. “Grey’s Anatomy” (new night and time)
10:00 p.m. “Six Degrees”

FRIDAY:
8:00 p.m. “Betty the Ugly”
9:00 p.m. “Men in Trees”
10:00 p.m. “20/20”

SATURDAY:
8:00 p.m. “ABC Saturday Night College Football”

SUNDAY:
7:00 p.m. “America’s Funniest Home Videos”
8:00 p.m. “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”
9:00 p.m. “Desperate Housewives”
10:00 p.m. “Brothers & Sisters”


Up tomorrow: CBS, which is expected to cancel Still Standing, Courting Alex and Out of Practice, while renewing The Unit, Close to Home and The New Adventures of Old Christine. I guess Christine star Julia Louis-Dreyfus finally put a stake in the Seinfeld curse, after all.

Tabs Eat up Britney Blunder

I can't resist posting this cover of the New York Daily News outlining Brit's continuing problems with the whole car seat thing. First, she doesn't use one, then she seats her baby facing the front of the car, which is against federal regulations until the kid is one year old.

Is thi a screed against the nosy paparazzi? Not really. I love seeing the defiantly ignorant Spears busted by these shooters (why did she have so much trouble saying "I'm pregnant" on Letterman last week? He got so confused he just had her read the Top Ten list to get through it).

But I'm confused by this statement from the cops: "We would have to witness the violation," California Highway Patrol spokesman Tom Marshall told the Daily News. "We can't issue a citation from a photograph."

So does that mean all those tickets people have gotten by mail after having their license plate photographed speeding or running red lights are null and void?

Just asking.

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:36pm]

    

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