CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- The Television Critics Association began its summer press tour last week in which the various broadcast and cable networks talk about their upcoming plans to the nation's top critics and entertainment reporters. This week sees the tour's focus shift to the broadcast networks as ABC held its first of two sessions on Monday for the press.
Here's a breakdown of the highlights of ABC's presentation:
-- ABC announced it has picked up its drama pilot "111 Gramercy Park" for midseason 2004. The series, from executive producers Christopher Keyser and Amy Lippman ("Party of Five"), will now feature the working title of "Untitled Keyser/Lippman Project." Something of a modern day version of "Upstairs, Downstairs," here's how the Alphabet network describes the show (via press release):
The series will explore the comedy of relationships, the social rules by which we live, the borders of what we call family, and the possibilities of the American Dream. The story will take place in the moneyed world of New York City. In a single building on the Upper West Side, two sub-cultures of the city live in delicate balance. This is the story of the people who've "made it" -- on their own or by accident of birth, as they struggle to raise their children, keep their marriages together, balance work and family and strive for even greater success - as seen through the eyes of the people without whose help their privileged lives would not be possible, the nannies, the assistants, the housekeepers -- people with none of the others' advantages but who, with families of their own to take care for, really run the world of the people who "run the world." These two cultures are inextricably linked -- they need each other, are jealous of each other, form bonds as close as family, even fall in love.
Currently cast in the drama are Frank Langella, Brittany Daniel, Erica Durance, Joanna Going, Peter Strauss, Jaleel White, Tippi Hedren and Joel Grey. No episode order was mentioned for the drama, which comes from the The Tannenbaum Company in association with Warner Bros. Television.
-- Kiele Sanchez ("That Was Then," the WB's "MacGyver") has signed on to replace Meredith Monroe in the network's new comedy "Married to the Kellys." She'll play the wife of Breckin Meyer's character, a New Yorker who moves with his wife to be closer to her family in Kansas. No reason was given for Monroe's exit.
-- Miguel Sandoval ("Kingpin") has been upped to series regular on ABC's new fall drama "10-8." His character, the precinct's captain who serves as a mentor to the rookie cops, was originally imagined as recurring.
-- Will Sasso ("Mad TV") has joined the cast while Patrick Warburton ("The Tick") has signed on for a recurring role on the network's returning comedy "Less Than Perfect." Sasso will continue in his role as Carl, Claude's (Sara Rue) lovable oaf of a next door neighbor, as a series regular. Meanwhile, Warburton will join the cast in a multi-episode arc as an opinionated on-air commentator who gets romantically involved with Lydia (Andrea Parker).
-- Lastly, ABC also confirmed its midseason pickup of "The Big House," a comedy starring Kevin Hart with characters loosely based on his own family. Hart plays "a wealthy, pampered African-American guy from Malibu who moves to Philadelphia to live with his working class relatives after his father loses all of his money" according to the network's press release. Also cast are Arnetia Walker as Tina, Keith David as Clarence, Yvette Nicole Brown as Eartha, Aaron Grady as CJ and Faizon Love as Warren. Executive producers on the comedy, from Imagine Entertainment and 20th Century Fox Television, are David Nevins, Brian Grazer and Stephen Engel.
Upcoming TCA schedule: Monday-Tuesday (July 14-15) - ABC; Thursday-Friday (July 17-18) - FOX; Sunday-Monday (July 20-21) - CBS; Tuesday (July 22) - UPN; Thursday-Friday (July 24-25) - NBC