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 the WB held sessions on Friday for the press.
Here's a breakdown of the highlights of the WB's presentation:
-- The WB's new Sunday drama "Tarzan & Jane" has been retitled to just "Tarzan" in order to broaden the focus of the series.
-- The network's two-hour "Play for a Billion" special sponsored by Pepsi is set to air Sunday, September 14 at 8:00/7:00c. Drew Carey will host the special along with Jamie Kennedy ("The Jamie Kennedy Experiment") and Holly Robinson Peete ("Like Family").
-- Recording artists Evanescence and Monica will topline the first episode of the Frog's "Pepsi Smash" series, which debuts this Wednesday at 9:00/8:00c. Also set to appear in the inaugural episode are The Black Eyed Peas, The Ataris and newcomer Gavin DeGraw. In future episodes, fans can look for Beyonc� Knowles, Queens of the Stone Age, Trapt, Bow Wow, Wilshire, Michelle Branch, Simple Plan, Chingy, Interpol, Foo Fighters, Mya, Jason Mraz, Pharrell with Clipse, Neptunes, Jack Johnson, Rooney, Fabolous, Lil� Mo and All-American Rejects. A rotating set of actors will host the series with "Everwood's" Gregory Smith and Emily VanCamp kicking off things this week. Future episodes will see guest hosts Jessica Biel ("7th Heaven"), Alyson Hannigan ("American Wedding") and Gabrielle Union ("Bad Boys II").
-- Hilary Duff ("Lizzie McGuire") has signed on to star in two one-hour music-driven specials for the WB to air during the 2003-04 season. The first, tentatively titled "Hilary Duff Birthday Celebration," is planned to air concurrently with her 16th birthday, and the release of her debut CD this fall. The second will be a Christmas event featuring holiday musical performances with additional details to be announced at a later date. Bob Bain ("The Billboard Music Awards") will be the executive producer of both specials.
-- Premiere dates for all of the Frog's fall series are expected to be announced by the end of July.
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