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The Next Big Things We've got a hunch about the new dramas we'll be watching this fall

Angie Harmon, Secrets of a Small Town

It's that time of year again: Network executives are spending these lovely spring days in dark screening rooms, searching for next fall's big hit. As we approach the mid-May unveiling of the new 2006-07 prime-time schedules, the Biz is here to provide you with an early glimpse of which drama pilots are heating up. We'll report on the sitcoms next week. ABC: Secrets of a Small Town  — a drama starring Angie Harmon about a small town whose residents have plenty of skeletons in the closet — is believed to have the inside track for the Sunday-night slot after Desperate Housewives. (It's now a given that the network will move the superhot Grey's Anatomy to another night where it can help launch a new show.) Also hot are Six Degrees — another ensemble soap about six strangers whose lives intertwine in New York — and Traveler, about three graduate students involved in a national-security emergency. read more

Insider Buzz on Fall's New Shows

Onetime West Winger Matthew Perry stars on Aaron Sorkin's Strip.

Television's new fall lineups won't be unveiled until May, but Hollywood is already making predictions about which pilots will become full-fledged shows. Here are some projects that are generating heat. Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip NBC has penciled in this drama from West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin about the backstage doings of a famous sketch-comedy show à la Saturday Night Live. Sorkin's mighty pen, and a cast that read more

THROUGH THE REVOLVING DOOR

While Cybill survivor Alicia Witt has checked herself out of Fox's shrink-rap comedy pilot More, Patience, Jenny McCarthy has gotten her foot in the door of Patricia Heaton's untitled ABC sitcom; Law & Order: Trial by Jury's Amy Carlson has washed up among the cast of ABC's insomniac-cop drama, Drift; and American Dreams hottie Sam Page has been thrown to Shark, the CBS drama with intimidating James Woods as an attorney-turned-prosecutor. So, are you impressed or appalled that I managed to handle all that in one densely packed sentence? Yeah, me, too. read more

THROUGH THE REVOLVING DOOR

While Cybill survivor Alicia Witt has checked herself out of Fox's shrink-rap comedy pilot More, Patience, Jenny McCarthy has gotten her foot in the door of Patricia Heaton's untitled ABC sitcom; Law & Order: Trial by Jury's Amy Carlson has washed up among the cast of ABC's insomniac-cop drama, Drift; and American Dreams hottie Sam Page has been thrown to Shark, the CBS drama with intimidating James Woods as an attorney-turned-prosecutor. So, are you impressed or appalled that I managed to handle all that in one densely packed sentence? Yeah, me, too. read more

THROUGH THE REVOLVING DOOR

While Cybill survivor Alicia Witt has checked herself out of Fox's shrink-rap comedy pilot More, Patience, Jenny McCarthy has gotten her foot in the door of Patricia Heaton's untitled ABC sitcom; Law & Order: Trial by Jury's Amy Carlson has washed up among the cast of ABC's insomniac-cop drama, Drift; and American Dreams hottie Sam Page has been thrown to Shark, the CBS drama with intimidating James Woods as an attorney-turned-prosecutor. So, are you impressed or appalled that I managed to handle all that in one densely packed sentence? Yeah, me, too. read more

FALL 2006: CASTING ABOUT

Tom Cavanagh (Love Monkey, Ed) has landed a lead role in the CBS comedy pilot My Ex-Life.... Jeri Ryan will play the boss of James Woods' prosecutor in CBS' Shark.... Illeana Douglas is one of Heather Locklear's gal pals in the ABC comedy Women of a Certain Age.... 24 alum Xander Berkeley has joined ABC's Women in Law. read more

FALL-TV UPDATE!

Per the Hollywood Reporter, Marcia Gay Harden (Mystic River) will play therapist to Jason O'Mara's insomniac detective in the ABC drama pilot Drift.... Jane Alexander (Warm Springs) has been cast as a witchcraft-wielding clan's matriarch in CBS' The Way.... Romy Rosemont (Shopgirl) has decided to swim with CBS' Shark, which stars James Woods as a celebrity-attorney-turned-prosecutor. read more

Your constant bashing of ER ...

Question: Your constant bashing of ER and its "mediocrity" gives me the impression that you really haven't even given yourself the possibility of liking the show this season, maybe due to disillusionment with the last couple of seasons. John Leguizamo's Doctor Clemente has been one of the best (or at least most enjoyable) new characters on TV this season, bringing comedic relief to a cast clearly in need of it. You can cynically brush off Cynthia Nixon's and James Woods's guest roles as stunt casting, but the respective episodes have been high-quality drama, especially last week's ALS-themed outing. I agree that the show is very different from its first seasons (I've been rewatching Seasons 1 through 4 on DVD), but in my mind it still delivers the goods drama-wise. So what do you say, Matt? Give ER one more chance? Answer: I tuned in to the beginning of the season with an open mind. But from the torpor of the opening episode, with Luka and Sam going in search of her brat, to the numbing ... read more

MANY STARS ARE GAME

Zach Braff (reprising his animated big-screen alter ego, Chicken Little), James Woods (as Hades), Mena Suvari (as Final Fantasy VII's Aerith), Rachael Leigh Cook, Brittany Snow, Jesse McCartney and General Hospital's Steve Burton are some of the many stars lending their voices to the video game Disney's Kingdom Hearts II, in stores March 30. read more

ER Ray Liotta did it last season,...

ERRay Liotta did it last season, and so did Cynthia Nixon: When they guest-starred on ER, the entire hour revolved around their characters. Ray won an Emmy for his brilliant portrayal, and Cynthia should've been at least nominated, but wasn't. James Woods continued this tradition and was just as awesome as ALS patient Dr. Nate Lennox. I loved how the flashbacks kept going further and further back in time, so we could see the gradual deterioration of his character, but what made it even more interesting was seeing the various ER characters as they dealt with him throughout the years. Just because I was naturally curious, I checked my ER records and yes, Goran Visnjic was indeed on the show back in 2001. (He's been on since 1999, my, how time h read more

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