CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) - NBC unveiled a new primetime schedule for the 2003-04 season that will bring three new comedy series and three new dramas to America�s number one television network. Joining the network�s current lineup, which consists of some of TV�s most popular series, are such marquee stars as Alicia Silverstone, Rob Lowe, Whoopi Goldberg, Ryan O�Neal, John Larroquette, Christine Baranski and James Caan.
The announcement was made today by Jeff Zucker, President, NBC Entertainment, at NBC�s annual Sales Presentation held at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City.
Zucker told advertisers, �NBC maintains the stability of a schedule that has been number one among 18-49-year-olds for three consecutive years and seven of the last eight. We�re thrilled with our efforts to develop the next wave of hit comedies and dramas.� He added, �This is a balanced lineup that will continue NBC�s legacy as the leader in quality, scripted programs.�
The new comedies include: �Coupling,� starring Emmy Award winner Rena Sofer (�General Hospital,� NBC�s �Ed�), Colin Ferguson (�The Opposite of Sex�), Sonya Walger (�The Mind of the Married Man�), Jay Harrington (�The Division�), Lindsay Price (�Beverly Hills, 90210�) and Christopher Moynihan (�The Fighting Fitzgeralds�); �Happy Family,� starring Emmy winners John Larroquette and Christine Baranski, and �Whoopi,� starring multi-talented Oscar winner Whoopi Goldberg (�Ghost�).
The new dramas are �Las Vegas,� starring an ensemble including Oscar and Golden Globe nominee James Caan (�The Godfather�) and Josh Duhamel (�All My Children�); �The Lyon�s Den,� starring Rob Lowe of NBC�s �The West Wing,� and �Miss Match,� starring Alicia Silverstone (�Clueless�) and Ryan O�Neal (�Love Story�).
The new schedule kicks off Mondays with the hit reality series �Fear Factor� (8-9 p.m. ET) followed by a fast-paced new drama, �Las Vegas� (9-10 p.m. ET). It replaces �Third Watch,� which moves to 10 p.m. to start its fifth season. Hit drama �Crossing Jordan� (currently airing at 10-11 p.m. Mondays) will return to NBC�s schedule for its third season in January, after series star Jill Hennessy gives birth to her first child.
On Tuesdays, the network re-invigorates it�s comedy lineup from 8-9 p.m with the new comedies �Whoopi� and �Happy Family,� followed by the night�s anchor, multi-Emmy winner �Frasier� (9-9:30 p.m. ET). Freshman comedy �Good Morning, Miami� moves from Thursdays to Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m. and the gripping drama �Law & Order: Special Victims Unit� - now entering its fifth season - moves to Tuesdays at 10 p.m., replacing �Dateline NBC.�
Remaining completely intact is NBC�s Wednesday drama lineup - which many critics have hailed as the best night of drama on television.
The legendary �Must-See� Thursday schedule - which will feature the final season of the classic comedy �Friends� - also remains the same, except for the 9:30 p.m. addition of the sexy singles comedy �Coupling,� based on the hit British series of the same name. Zucker also announced a two-year deal for �ER,� ensuring that the Emmy-winning drama will remain on NBC another three seasons.
Fridays usher in the new Alicia Silverstone drama �Miss Match� (8-9 p.m. ET), created by Darren Star (�Sex and the City�). Following �Dateline NBC� (9-10 p.m. ET), Peabody Award-winning critical favorite �Boomtown� travels from Sundays to Fridays at 10 p.m., and carries on the fine tradition of NBC crime dramas in the time period (including �Miami Vice,� �Homicide: Life on the Street� and �Law & Order: Special Victims Unit�). Additionally, Zucker announced that Vanessa L. Williams (�Eraser,� �Soul Food�) will join the cast of �Boomtown� in its second season.
Saturday remains the night for major theatrical films on NBC, with a lineup this season that will feature the network television premieres of �Traffic,� �A Perfect Storm� and �Shrek.�
The growing Sunday lineup continues to feature �Dateline NBC� (7-8 p.m. ET), freshman hit �American Dreams� (8-9 p.m. ET) and the surging �Law & Order: Criminal Intent� (9-10 p.m. ET). The new drama �Lyon�s Den,� starring Rob Lowe, inherits the Sunday 10 p.m. time slot.
Zucker also announced that �The Tracy Morgan Show,� starring �Saturday Night Live�s� Tracy Morgan, will debut later this fall. The reality series �The Apprentice,� from Mark Burnett (�Survivor�) and featuring business tycoon Donald Trump, will premiere in early 2004.
Zucker stressed the following points concerning NBC�s current successful lineup:
-- NBC has now won three seasons in a row (includes projected ratings for 2002-03) in adults 18-49 and seven of the last eight years.
-- NBC maintains strength across the schedule, with top-30 shows on six nights of the week. NBC has 11 of the top 30, more than any other network.
-- NBC�s schedule boasts the top four comedies, two of the top three dramas and the top two newsmagazines in adults 18-49.
NBC has five of the top six scripted programs.
-- NBC is #1 or tied for first in key demographics in the six major dayparts (prime time, late night, daytime, morning news, evening news and Sunday morning public affairs), something no other network has ever accomplished.
-- Following is NBC�s primetime schedule for the 2003-04 season, followed by show descriptions. (Titles are �working titles�; all times are Eastern Time):
NBC PRIMETIME SCHEDULE FOR 2003-04
*New programs in CAPS
MONDAY 8-9 p.m. �Fear Factor� 9-10 p.m. �LAS VEGAS� 10-11 p.m. �Third Watch� (new time)
TUESDAY 8-8:30 p.m. �WHOOPI� 8:30-9 p.m. �HAPPY FAMILY� 9-9:30 p.m. �Frasier� 9:30-10 p.m. �Good Morning, Miami� (new day and time) 10-11 p.m. �Law & Order: Special Victims Unit� (new day and time)
WEDNESDAY 8-9 p.m. �Ed� 9-10 p.m. �The West Wing� 10-11 p.m. �Law & Order�
THURSDAY 8-8:30 p.m. �Friends� 8:30-9 p.m. �Scrubs� 9-9:30 p.m. �Will & Grace� 9:30-10 p.m. �COUPLING� 10-11 p.m. �ER�
FRIDAY 8-9 p.m. �MISS MATCH� 9-10 p.m. �Dateline NBC� 10-11 p.m. �Boomtown� (new day and time)
SATURDAY 8-11 p.m. �NBC Saturday Night Movie�
SUNDAY 7-8 p.m. �Dateline NBC� 8-9 p.m. �American Dreams� 9-10 p.m. �Law & Order: Criminal Intent� 10-11 p.m. �THE LYON�S DEN�
Following are program descriptions for NBC�s new series.
Coupling - This provocative new comedy series, based on the British hit of the same name, is a hip look at six thirty-somethings living in Chicago who are either involved, formerly involved or looking to become intimately involved with each other. Susan (Emmy winner Rena Sofer, (�General Hospital,� NBC�s �Just Shoot Me,� �Ed�) is a beautiful and sexy go-getter with an uninhibited attitude who used to date Patrick (Colin Ferguson, �The Opposite of Sex�), the cocky, good-looking guy of the group. Sally (Sonya Walger, �The Mind of the Married Man�) is Susan�s attractive and unspeakably vain best friend and beauty therapist who is desperate for a man and now dates Patrick. Steve (Jay Harrington, �The Division�) wants to date Susan, but can�t seem to shake his clingy ex-girlfriend Jane (Lindsay Price, �Beverly Hills, 90210�) who is completely in love with Steve and refuses to be dumped by him. Jeff (Christopher Moynihan, �The Fighting Fitzgeralds�) is Steve�s �porn buddy,� who, unknown to his friends, is terrified of sex or the prospect of it. He works in the same office as Susan and had a forgettable fling with her. �Coupling� is created by Steven Moffat and Sue Vertue. The show is executive-produced by Phoef Sutton, Ben Silverman, Beryl Vertue, Sue Vertue and Moffat. The pilot episode was written by Moffat, revised by Sutton and was directed by Andrew D. Weyman. �Coupling� is from NBC Studios in association with Reveille and Universal Television.
Happy Family - Five-time Emmy Award winner John Larroquette (�Night Court,� �The John Larroquette Show�) returns to primetime television when he stars with fellow Emmy winner Christine Baranski (�Cybill�) as would-be empty-nesters whose twenty-something children just can�t seem to get the hang of flying solo in this adult comedy from executive producers Moses Port and David Guarascio (both �Mad About You,� �Just Shoot Me�). Peter and Annie Brennan (Larroquette and Baranski) are anxious to begin celebrating life as a couple again now that their children are all grown up, but it just doesn�t seem to be in the cards. Their youngest (and definitely, not brightest), Tim (Tyler Francavilla, �Boston Public�), should be graduating from junior college, but instead he�s moving in with the �older� woman-next-door -- his mom�s thirty-something tennis partner, Maggie (Susan Gibney, NBC�s �Crossing Jordan�). Their eldest, Todd (Hamish Linklater, �Gideon�s Crossing�), is the apple of his dad�s eye and is engaged to a great girl - and having an affair with yet another great girl. And daughter Sara (Melanie Deanne Moore, NBC�s �Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of �Three�s Company��), the over-achieving family success story, is in the midst of a major emotional meltdown. Pamela Fryman (�Just Shoot Me�) directs the pilot from a script by Port and Guarascio in this production from NBC Studios.
Whoopi - From the creators and executive producers of �3rd Rock from the Sun� and �That �70s Show,� Grammy, Emmy and Academy Award-winning actress Whoopi Goldberg (�Ghost�) stars in this smart and sassy comedy as ex-diva Mavis Rae, a one-hit wonder singer who becomes an opinionated �hotelier� running her own small hotel in New York any way she wants. After 15 years of operating the Lamont Hotel in Manhattan on her charm, wit and a bit of larceny with the help of her reliable Iranian handyman, Nasim (Omid Djalili, �Spy Game,� �The Mummy�), Mavis has big plans to expand her clientele by opening up the Paladium Lounge -- or the hotel bar, so guests can see Grammy-nominee Mavis Rae on a regular basis. Staying at the hotel is her conservative younger brother Courtney (Wren T. Brown, �Biker Boyz,� �Waiting to Exhale�) who couldn�t be more opposite in personality and politics than his liberal-minded sister. When Mavis� offers free office space as a chance for Courtney to pursue his law practice, Courtney�s close proximity also means a daily dose of meddling in Mavis� business -- and she in turn provides relentless commentary about his white girlfriend, Rita (Elizabeth Regen, �Leon,� �Free Country the Movie�), who talks like a sister and is just too much fun for Mavis to ignore. Bonnie Turner and Terry Turner (�That �70s Show,� �3rd Rock from the Sun, �Saturday Night Live�), Whoopi Goldberg (�Strong Medicine,� �Hollywood Squares�), Tom Werner, Marcy Carsey and Caryn Mandabach (�That �70s Show,� �3rd Rock from the Sun,� �Roseanne,� �The Cosby Show�) are the executive producers of this comedy produced by Carsey-Werner-Mandabach and NBC Studios. Terry Hughes (�That �70s Show,� �3rd Rock From the Sun�) directs the pilot written by Bonnie Turner & Terry Turner.
Las Vegas -- From Gary Scott Thompson -- the writer of �The Fast and the Furious� -- comes this fast-paced, sexy drama, which follows the elite surveillance team charged with maintaining the security of one of �Sin City�s� largest casinos. Oscar and Golden Globe Award nominee James Caan (�The Godfather,� �Misery�) stars as Big Ed Deline, the head of the surveillance team for the Montecito Resort & Casino. With his prot�g�, Danny McCoy (Josh Duhamel, �All My Children�), an ex-U.S. Marine and Las Vegas native, they deal with card-counting cheaters, costly streaks of random luck and rival casinos stealing their big-money players. If the typical job-related pressures weren�t enough for Big Ed, he recently found Danny in bed with his only daughter (Molly Sims, MTV�s �House of Style�). Rounding out this cast of high rollers are the seductive, high-priced escort Mary Connell (Nikki Cox, �Nikki�), all-knowing valet Mike Cannon (James Lesure, �For Your Love�), pit boss Nessa Holt (Marsha Thomason, �Black Knight�) - a.k.a. the �Ice Queen� -- and elusive former competitor Samantha Jane (Vanessa Marcil, �Beverly Hills, 90210�). Thompson also serves as executive producer along with Scott Steindorff (�The Human Stain�), Justin Falvey (�Undeclared�) and Darryl Frank (�Taken�). Michael Watkins (NBC�s �American Dreams� and �Boomtown�) directs this pilot from NBC Studios and DreamWorks Television.
The Lyon�s Den -- Rob Lowe (NBC�s �The West Wing�) stars in this Washington D.C.-based drama as Jack Turner, the maverick, idealistic son from a political dynasty who must handle the cases and inner workings of a 150-year-old law firm which may or may not be hiding some dark secrets. Matt Craven (�The Life of David Gale�) plays Riley, Jack�s more practical friend and partner in the small pro-bono clinic of Lyon�s, Lacross and Levine, which will be closed unless Jack accepts an ultimatum to leave the clinic and become managing partner at the firm�s headquarters. The cast also includes Kyle Chandler (�Early Edition�) as competitive and cynical attorney Grant Rashton, Elizabeth Mitchell (�Santa Clause 2�) as Ariel Saxon, an attractive attorney struggling with alcoholism, David Krumholtz (�Big Shot: Confessions of a Campus Bookie�) as Fineman, James Pickens, Jr. (�Traffic�) as Terrance Christianson and Frances Fisher (�Glory Days�) as Brit Hanley. �The Lyon�s Den� is a production of 20th Century Fox and Brillstein-Grey Television. Remi Aubuchon (�24,� �From Earth to the Moon�) is the writer and executive producer; Rob Lowe, Brad Grey (�The Sopranos�) and Bernie Brillstein (�Just Shoot Me�) are executive producers. Rod Holcomb (NBC�s �ER�) serves as director and executive producer.
Miss Match - Alicia Silverstone (�Love�s Labor Lost,� �Clueless�) stars in this charming drama from Emmy-Award winning executive producer Darren Star (�Sex and the City,� �Melrose Place�) and Jeff Rake (�The Practice�). In addition to being a sharp divorce attorney in her father�s law firm, Kate Fox (Silverstone) has a knack for matchmaking, which she considers a hobby until a socialite bride credits Kate for her romantic success in the press and word of her talent spreads. Soon, to the dismay of her father, Sid (Ryan O�Neal, �Love Story�), and her reluctant legal partner Nick (James Roday, �Rolling Kansas�), Kate is juggling the conflicting worlds of divorce and true love. With her best friend Victoria (Lake Bell, NBC�s �War Stories�) at her side, Kate is determined to bring a little romance into the world, perhaps finding her own true love in the process. Rounding out the cast are David Conrad (�Men of Honor�), as Michael, a potential love interest for Kate, and Jodi Long (�Celebrity�) as nosy office receptionist Claire. �Miss Match� is produced by 20th Television with Imagine Entertainment and Darren Star Productions. Brian Grazer (�24�) and David Nevins (�Double Deception�) also serve as executive producers.
The Apprentice -- In a bold new reality series that tests competitors� survival techniques in New York City�s corporate jungle, NBC and executive producer Mark Burnett (�Survivor�) will team up for �The Apprentice,� a 13-episode series in which candidates vie for the chance to become an �apprentice� to a �master�-- and one of them wins the dream job of a lifetime, as they learn from the master and earn a six-figure salary. During the first season of �The Apprentice,� legendary business tycoon Donald Trump will serve as the �master� and his business empire, The Trump Organization, will be the hub of the competition. �The Apprentice� is produced by Mark Burnett Productions. Burnett is executive producer and is represented by Conrad Riggs who will also serve as a producer on the project.
The Tracy Morgan Show - NBC�s �Saturday Night Live� sensation, Tracy Morgan, teams up with executive producers David Israel & Jim O�Doherty (�3rd Rock from the Sun�) and Lorne Michaels (�Saturday Night Live�) to star in his own primetime comedy based on his real life as a hardworking Brooklyn family man pursuing happiness with streetwise wit, attitude and wisdom. Tracy Mitchell (Morgan) and Alicia (Tamala Jones, �Head of State�), his beautiful, no-nonsense wife who�s also a full-time mom, share their modest apartment with their two kids, 13-year-old Derrick (Marc John Jeffries, �Stuart Little 2�) and 9-year-old Jimmy (newcomer Bobb�e J. Thompson). In between Tracy�s big expansion plans for his own auto garage business, there are those other dreams. At work, Tracy is responsible for his other - more dysfunctional - family of mechanics, who include Spoon (John Witherspoon, �The Wayans Bros.�) and Bernard (Heavy D -- a.k.a. Dwight Myers, �The Cider House Rules�) who daily remind Tracy of the headaches of running a business. Israel & O�Doherty are the executive producers and writers of this Carsey-Werner-Mandabach/NBC Studios/SNL Studios and 3 Arts Entertainment production. David Miner (�Greetings from Tucson�), Dave Becky (�The Hughleys�), Marcy Carsey (�That �70s Show�), Tom Werner (�Grounded for Life�) and Caryn Mandabach (�The Cosby Show�) also serve as executive producers. Gary Halvorson (NBC�s �Friends,� �Everybody Loves Raymond�) is the director.
The above is taken from NBC's press release concerning its upfront presentation. You can read the original release by clicking here.