'Men in Trees,' 'Boston Legal' make the cut

It’s Christmastime in March at ABC, which just handed out freshly wrapped season renewals to 11 of its series — including several that had been on the bubble.

Meanwhile, Sci Fi Channel also handed out an unexpected gift to “Battlestar Galactica” fans: The channel has extended its fourth season order to 22 episodes.

Over at ABC, “Men in Trees” and “Boston Legal” — two shows that weren’t shoo-ins for renewal — will be back next year, as will frosh hits “Ugly Betty” and “Brothers & Sisters.”

Besides “Betty,” other no-brainers making the cut for next year include “Desperate Housewives,” “Lost” and “Grey’s Anatomy,” as well as reality entries “Dancing With the Stars,” “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” and “The Bachelor.”

Also back is latenight gabfest “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” no surprise, given the Alphabet recently extended host Kimmel’s contract through 2010 (Daily Variety, Feb. 27).

The shows join previously renewed reality entries “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” “Supernanny” and “Wife Swap.”

Pickups were announced Wednesday as ABC presented its development slate to media buyers, who are in town this week to meet with most of the broadcast webs.

“We have had a strong year, with two of the season’s breakout hits, ‘Ugly Betty’ and ‘Brothers & Sisters,’ and the solid performance of ‘Men in Trees,’ ” ABC Entertainment prexy Steve McPherson said, “These shows provide us with a substantial foundation to make 2007-08 our best schedule yet.”

Still up in the air are the dramas “What About Brian,” “October Road” and “Six Degrees.” “The Nine” and “Daybreak” aren’t expected to return.

On the comedy side, long-running laffers “According to Jim” and “George Lopez” are up in the air. Also awaiting their fates are “Knights of Prosperity” and “In Case of Emergency,” while it’s not looking good for “Help Me, Help You” and “Big Day.” “Notes From the Underbelly” hasn’t yet launched.

Among the frosh pickups, “Betty” has given ABC its best Thursday 8 p.m. performance in 12 years; show is second only to “Survivor” among total viewers in the slot, and is No.1 with women 18-34. “Brothers & Sisters” and “Men in Trees” also have shown promise in their timeslots.

As for “Battlestar Galactica,” Sci Fi originally had ordered 13 episodes of the show, which returns in 2008. Sci Fi also will air a special two-hour “Galactica” this fall.

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