ABC, WB set fall premiere dates

Alphabet web delays to protect 'SportsNight' from 'Will & Grace'

The WB Network will join the Big Three webs in rolling out portions of its new schedule during the week of Sept. 20, when it expands from five to six nights of primetime programming.

ABC also confirmed plans to unveil the bulk of its primetime entertainment sked beginning Sept. 21. Fox and UPN are staggering their premiere dates from late August through late October.

The WB’s fall lineup kicks off at 8 p.m. Sept. 20 with its highest-rated show, ” 7th Heaven,” followed at 9 by “Safe Harbor,” a new family drama from “7th” creator Brenda Hampton.

The WB hops into Friday nights for the first time in its five-year history Sept. 24 with a sitcom slate leading off with “The Steve Harvey Show” at 8 p.m., followed by “For Your Love,” the frosh animated skein “Mission Hill” and capped at 9:30 by the returning “Jamie Foxx Show.”

The new Sunday lineup bows Sept. 26 with “Felicity,” followed at 9 p.m. by the romantic dramedy “Jack & Jill.” Sept. 29 brings the bow of “Dawson’s Creek,” followed by the specially skedded debut of the teen drama “Popular.” The two-parter “Popular” premiere seg will conclude Sept. 30 in its regular 8 p.m. Thursday slot, followed by the second season bow of “Charmed” at 9.

“Roswell,” the regular occupant of the 9 p.m. Wednesday post-“Felicity” slot, will surface Oct. 6. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” returns Oct. 5 to anchor Tuesday nights, followed at 9 p.m. by the spinoff “Angel.”

Meanwhile, ABC’s new season begins Sept. 13 with “NFL Monday Night Football” back to its 6 p.m. start (on the west coast), followed by local programming and then “20/20” at 10. In the East, it’s an 8 p.m. bow of “20/20,” and then the return of “Monday Night Football.”

The curtain rises Sept. 16 on the Alphabet’s improv gameshow “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” at 8 p.m. However, thanks to NBC’s dominance of Thursday, the rest of ABC’s Thursday lineup will be held back until Oct. 7, when “Then Came You,” moves into the 8:30 berth, followed by “Wasteland” at 9 and a 10 p.m. installment of “20/20.”

“NYPD Blue,” as usual, will be in the lock up until Nov. 9, allowing the buzzworthy frosh drama “Once and Again” to run in its 10-11 p.m. slot until then. Also, “SportsNight” won’t emerge on Tuesdays until Oct. 5, two weeks after the rest the night’s premieres.

That delay was done to protect “SportsNight” from stiff competish from the season preem of NBC’s “Will & Grace”; however, NBC has opted to reshuffle its planned Tuesday lineup and now “SportsNight” will face off against the Peacock’s frosh “Mike O’Malley Show” comedy in the 9:30 p.m. berth.

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