It's crunch time in the network scheduling rooms, as many questions are being asked about next season. Will Grey's Anatomy
go to Monday nights? Will Lost
start in November, to cut down on repeats during the season? Is Wayne Brady
getting another show? The answers will come next week. We hear there wasn't a lot of laughing during the executive screenings of most of the season's comedy pilots, but here's what industry insiders say are the hottest of that tepid lot. (Click here
to read about the drama-pilot buzz.)
NBC: The Peacock network is only expected to add two sitcoms. One is the still-untitled show from Saturday Night Live head writer Tina Fey — a workplace comedy set behind the scenes of a TV variety program. Yeah, we know NBC execs have already picked up a "behind the scenes at a late-night show" drama from Aaron Sorkin. The other is 20 Good Years starring John Lithgow and Jeffrey Tambor, about fiftysomething buddies who decide to make the best of their final decades. One other contender, which is looking like a mid-season entry, is The Singles Table about five unattached people who meet at a wedding. One noncomedy note: We hear the chances of ER moving from Thursday night are down to slim to none.
ABC: Ted Danson is expected to be back in prime time as a therapist on Help Me Help You. Buzz is also building for the untitled show from David Letterman producer Rob Burnett about a bunch of guys (including Donal Logue) who try to rob Mick Jagger.
Fox: The Winner, starring Daily Show alum Rob Corddry, is a leading contender. There's growing support for Happy Hour, about a down-on-his-luck dude who moves in with a ladies' man. The Adventures of Big Handsome Guy and His Little Friend — the title explains it all — is a mid-season contender. Also still in the running is Julie Reno, Bounty Hunter, which is described as a female Dukes of Hazzard and is to star Erin Daniels and Annie Potts.
CBS: We don't hear much, except that a sigh of relief was evident when executives saw The Class — the comedy from Friends cocreator David Crane — to which the network made an expensive commitment last year. It's about eight former grade-school classmates who reconnect as adults. The Big Bang Theory, from Two and a Half Men creator Chuck Lorre, is getting a serious look. So is the untitled ensemble comedy that stars Christine Baranski and Ed O'Neill.
CW: Is it worth $20 million to keep Reba off your schedule? We'll find out next Thursday, when CW announces its schedule. While WB was committed to another season, new management has other ideas. But it's going to cost them, as they'll still be on the hook for the show's license fee and lost syndication revenue. What will replace it? Does the name Wayne Brady ring a bell? He stars in Flirt, which is looking like it will make the cut. Nick Lachey's sitcom, She Said, He Said, is also a strong contender.
The Biz will be at the network upfront presentations next week. Start checking in on Tuesday for updates throughout the week.