Jury’s back on ‘Practice’

Legal skein to return, 'TGIF' also eyes comeback

This article was updated at 9:23 p.m.

As network-scheduling gurus sliced and diced their potential fall lineups Sunday in New York, ABC gave new life to “The Practice” and confirmed the return of its all-comedy “TGIF” franchise.

Over at the WB, meanwhile, Frog finalized a fall lineup with four new comedies, two dramas and a variety show — all from sibling studios Warner Bros. TV and Telepictures. And at Fox, three dramas and three laffers joined three previously announced skeins for the net’s year-round 2003-04 sked– including two hours from 20th-based Original’s first development slate.

As for ABC, “The Practice” was renewed after the Alphabet web struck an 11th hour license renegotiation with 20th Century Fox TV. With its deal up, the David E. Kelley drama wasn’t a shoo-in to return. Not only did the show lose a chunk of its audience by moving to Monday nights this midseason, but Kelley vocally took webheads to task for the schedule change.

But the pickup came after ABC managed to secure a dramatically reduced license fee for the show, which enters its eighth season this fall. The network is expected to pay 20th about $2.5 million to $3 million an episode, down from $6.5 million fee that had been in place under the prior deal.

“The Practice” is also expected to return to its old Sunday 10 p.m. slot in the fall.

Alphabet web confirmed the return of its kid-friendly “TGIF,” a move network execs had been hinting at since the March development meetings.

The net was tight-lipped, however, when it came to confirming which shows might populate the night. “George Lopez Show,” returning for its third season, was one candidate for the night. There’s also talk of shifting Bonnie Hunt’s soph laffer to Fridays.

And the Alphabet will likely hype many of its comedies by airing four back-to-back repeat episodes of one laffer on rotating Monday nights this summer.

ABC execs also hinted at a plan to move its long-running Sunday-based “Wonderful World of Disney” to Saturday nights at 8 p.m., possibly paired with “Dragnet” or another drama at 10 p.m.

As a result, ABC could air one or two of its new dramas on Sundays in the pre-“Alias” slot. Freshman dramas include the homeland security-themed “Threat Matrix” (from Touchstone TV and Industry), L.A. County Sheriff’s Dept.-set “10-8” (Touchstone TV/Spelling TV) and “Karen Sisco” (Universal Network TV/Jersey TV), which revolves around a character from the theatrical “Out of Sight.”

“Lines of Duty,” the FBI-themed drama from Rod Lurie, will show up in midseason. The DreamWorks/Touchstone pilot had already been given a 13-episode order.

On the comedy side, Alphabet web has picked up the Kelly Ripa/Faith Ford starrer “Hope and Faith” (Touchstone/Industry) as well as the celeb-dates-regular-guy laffer “I’m With Her” (Warner Bros. TV/Tollin-Robbins Prods.).

Also, the net will schedule the Kevin Hart-led sitcom “The Big House” (20th Century Fox TV/Imagine TV) and “It’s All Relative” (Paramount Network TV/Touchstone/Storyline Entertainment), which revolves around the son of a conservative family who falls in love with the daughter of a gay couple.

Hopped up on synergy

ABC will announce its fall schedule Tuesday, as will the WB, which has lined up two new dramas and four new laffers, as well as a large roster of midseason entries. .

Drama “Tarzan and Jane,” an update on the Edgar Rice Burroughs character, has been ordered, along with “Fearless,” which stars Rachael Leigh Cook as an FBI agent born without the fear gene. “Fearless” also comes from Jerry Bruckheimer TV.

The WB’s new sitcoms include “All About the Andersons,” loosely based on thesp Anthony Anderson’s own life; “Like Family,” which revolves around a woman and her son, who move in with her best friend’s family; and “Run of the House,” about a teenager raised by her older siblings.

Then there’s “Steve Harvey’s Big Time,” a reality-based laffer hosted by the comedian, who will present a mix of interesting and bizarre novelty acts. “Big Time” comes from another WB sibling, Telepictures.

Bubble skeins pop up

Also for fall, bubble shows “What I Like About You” and “JKX: The Jamie Kennedy Experiment” will be back.

On the midseason tip, drama “One Tree Hill” (Warner Bros. TV/Tollin-Robbins Prods.) has received an order, while laffers “The Help” (Warner Bros. TV) and Adam Sandler-produced “The Mayor” (Sony Pictures TV) have received six-episode orders.

WB will also pick up six segs of reality entry “Make My Day,” from Monkey TV and Brad Grey TV. The U.K. import, exec produced by Will McDonald, David Granger and Sue Fellows, is a new take on the “Candid Camera” concept.

Possible shows to be added to WB’s midseason pickups include the net’s “Gilmore Girls” spinoff, which will get a six-episode order, contingent on finding a showrunner; “Sixteen to Life” (20th Century Fox TV) and “Other People’s Business” (Sony/Jersey).

Over at Fox, likely pickups on the comedy side include the Norm Macdonald laffer “A Minute With Stan Hooper” (Paramount), Luis Guzman starrer “Luis” (20th Century Fox), talker/sitcom hybrid “The Ortegas” (Hat Trick/Pariah) and “Arrested Development” (20th Century Fox/Imagine).

New dramas may include “True Calling” (20th Century Fox/Original TV), “Skin” (Warner Bros. TV/Bruckheimer TV), “Still Life” (20th Century Fox/Original) and previously announced entries “The O.C.” (Warner Bros. TV) and “Wonder Falls” (20th Century Fox/Regency).

20th Century Fox TV/Brad Grey TV laffer “Cracking Up” has been pushed to midseason. Returning shows include midseason laffer “Wanda at Large.”

Meanwhile, CBS will likely give official greenlights to series starting today.

Comedies generating buzz include “The Stones” (WBTV), the Charlie Sheen starrer “2½ Men” (WBTV) and Nicole Sullivan starrer “The Men I Married” (Touchstone.)

Finalists on the drama front include “Cold Cases” (WBTV), “Century City” (Universal), a “JAG” spinoff (Par) and “Joan of Arcadia” (Sony). David E. Kelley’s “Brotherhood of Poland, N.H.” remains in the mix as well.

(Josef Adalian contributed to this report.)

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