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[05/08/03 - 12:00 AM]
'Boomtown,' 'A.U.S.A.' See Chances of Renewal Rise
By Brian Ford Sullivan (TFC)

CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) - NBC's critically acclaimed drama "Boomtown" saw its renewal chances increase yesterday as producers of the series announced actress-singer Vanessa Williams has signed a deal to star in 10 episodes of the series should it return for a second season. And in a real surprise, the Peacock's once thought dead midseason comedy "A.U.S.A." could also return for a second season.

The return of the latter is contingent on if producers of the Scott Foley-led comedy can convince Heather Locklear to sign on to the series. With the demise of the actress' own pilot, "Once Around the Park," NBC approached Locklear about the possibility of joining "A.U.S.A." According to various sources, should the producers of the show secure Locklear's services, the comedy would get a second season renewal. It is unclear however if it would return in the fall or midseason however.

As for "Boomtown," the addition of Williams raises the Peabody Award winning drama's chances to return next season. Speculative schedules making the rounds yesterday had the drama returning to its Sunday, 10:00/9:00c slot or moving to Fridays at 9:00/8:00c. The move to Fridays would likely come if NBC goes with one of its new dramas ("Homeland Security," "The Lyon's Den," "Las Vegas") or a relocated "The West Wing" in the Sunday, 10:00/9:00c slot, all of which are considered strong contenders for the period.

Other news and notes about the Peacock's schedule:

-- Mondays and Saturdays will reportedly remain intact with "Fear Factor," "Third Watch" and "Crossing Jordan" on Mondays and a mix of movies and "Law & Order" repeats on Saturdays.

-- Tuesdays see Whoopi Goldberg's comedy kicking off the night, followed by the untitled Tracy Morgan project. "Frasier" would remain at 9:00/8:00c followed by newcomer "Happy Family" and Tuesday mainstay "Dateline NBC."

-- Wednesdays have either Alicia Silverstone's dramedy "Miss Match" leading off at 8:00/7:00c or a block of new comedies "Stuck in the Middle With You" and "Come to Papa." The 9:00/8:00c slot remains contingent on what happens with "The West Wing." Should the drama move to Sundays, Rob Lowe's "The Lyon's Den" is expected to take over the period. "Law & Order" will remain at 10:00/9:00c.

-- Thursdays see everything but "Good Morning, Miami" remaining intact. BBC import "Coupling" would take over the 9:30/8:30c slot.

-- Fridays have "Miss Match" kicking off the night should NBC go with back-to-back comedies to open the Wednesday, 8:00/7:00c hour. "Boomtown" or "Las Vegas" would then follow with "Law & Order: S.V.U." remaining at 10:00/9:00c. No mention was made of "Ed" returning to Friday nights.

-- Sundays see "Dateline NBC," "American Dreams" and "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" staying put with one of the previously mentioned quintet of "Homeland Security," "The Lyon's Den," "Las Vegas," "Boomtown" or "The West Wing" closing out the night.

NBC announces its fall schedule on Monday.





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· AMERICAN DREAMS (NBC)
· AUSA (NBC)
· BOOMTOWN (NBC)
· COME TO PAPA (NBC)
· COUPLING (NBC)
· CROSSING JORDAN (NBC)
· DATELINE NBC (NBC)
· ED (NBC)
· FEAR FACTOR (NBC)
· FRASIER (NBC)
· GOOD MORNING, MIAMI (NBC)
· HAPPY FAMILY (NBC)
· HOMELAND SECURITY (NBC)
· LAS VEGAS (NBC)
· LAW & ORDER (NBC)
· LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT (USA)
· LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT (NBC)
· LYON'S DEN, THE (NBC)
· MISS MATCH (NBC)
· ONCE AROUND THE PARK (NBC)
· STUCK IN THE MIDDLE WITH YOU (NBC)
· THIRD WATCH (NBC)
· TRACY MORGAN SHOW, THE (NBC)
· WEST WING, THE (NBC)
· WHOOPI (NBC)





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