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[07/10/04 - 12:00 AM]
NBC Announces Fall Premiere Dates, Changes
By The Futon Critic Staff (TFC)

LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- NBC has firmed up its 2004-05 rollout plans, including a major change to its previously announced fall schedule.

"Last Comic Standing," which has been performing admirably this summer for the Peacock, will return for a third season on Tuesday, August 31, just a few weeks after the conclusion of its second edition. "Standing" will take over for the fourth season of "Average Joe," which had been previously planned to air in the Tuesday, 8:00/7:00c slot. "Joe" will then return at some point later on in the 2004-05 season.

As for the rest of NBC's series, the majority will launch the week following the conclusion of the network's 2004 Summer Olympics coverage with "The West Wing" being the last out of the gate on October 20.

The news, along with a few other tidbits, was released via press release today:

NBC UNFURLS BANNER SEASON IN 2004-05 WITH LATE-SUMMER ROLLOUT OF NEW SERIES

Popular Returning Series Also Debut Over Five Weeks Beginning with "Fear Factor" on August 30, "The Apprentice" on September 9 and Continuing Through October 20 with "The West Wing"

BURBANK, Calif. �- July 10, 2004 �- NBC breaks the seal on the new Fall season with a late-summer rollout -- following the momentum of the 2004 Summer Olympics -- paced by the sneak previews and premieres of the new series "Joey," "Father of the Pride," "Hawaii," "LAX" and "Medical Investigation" between August 30-September 10. The announcement was made by Kevin Reilly, President, NBC Entertainment.

"We feel good about our new and returning shows so we want to maximize the positive momentum of the Summer Olympics," said Reilly. "It makes sense for many reasons and viewers won't have to wait to catch TV's new and returning hits."

The new drama "Hawaii," (Wednesdays, 8-9 p.m. ET) will break out first with a sneak preview on Monday, Aug. 30 (9-10 p.m. ET) and will premiere on Wednesday, Sept. 1 (8-9 p.m. ET). The next new series to be unveiled will be the comedy "Father of the Pride" (Tuesdays, 9-9:30 p.m. ET) with its premiere on Tuesday, Aug. 31 (9-9:30 p.m. ET).

The freshman drama "LAX" (Mondays, 10-11 p.m. ET) will begin with its series premiere on (Labor Day) Monday, Sept. 6 (10-11 p.m. ET). On Thursday, Sept. 9, the much-anticipated comedy "Joey," (Thursdays, 8-8:30 p.m. ET) will debut in its regular day and time while the drama "Medical Investigation" (Fridays, 10-11 p.m. ET) will follow with a special preview that night (10-11 p.m. ET) and will continue with its official premiere the next day on Friday, Sept. 10 (10-11 p.m. ET).

Among the returning series (in chronological order of premieres), the popular reality series "Fear Factor" will launch first on Monday, Aug. 30 (8-9 p.m. ET). The next day on Tuesday, Aug. 31, NBC will begin with "Last Comic Standing" (8-9 p.m. ET; see accompanying release) followed on the same night by the premiere of "Father of the Pride," (9-9:30 p.m. ET) and the season's first episode of the critically hailed comedy "Scrubs" (9:30-10 p.m. ET) as it begins its fourth season. This year's hit "Las Vegas" (which out-stripped all other freshman dramas) gives the wheel a big spin again beginning Monday, Sept. 6 (9-10 p.m. ET).

Meanwhile, "The Apprentice" � last season's most dominant new series � begins it second year on Thursday, Sept. 9. (8:30-10:00 p.m. ET) It will be followed a week later by the seventh-season debut of the Emmy Award-winning "Will & Grace" on Thursday, Sept. 16 (8:30-9:00 p.m. ET).

NBC will then broadcast the sixth-season premiere of "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" on Tuesday, Sept. 21 (10-11 p.m. ET); "Law & Order" commences its 15th season on Wednesday, Sept. 22; "ER" begins its 11th turn on Thursday, Sept. 23 (10-11 p.m. ET); "Third Watch" starts its sixth year on the beat Friday, Sept. 17 (9-10 p.m. ET).

On Sunday, Sept. 26, three popular dramas resume on the same day and time with "American Dreams" (8-9 p.m. ET) in its third season, "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" (9-10 p.m. ET) in its fourth year, and "Crossing Jordan" (10-11 p.m. ET) also returning for its fourth.

"The West Wing" will begin its sixth-season campaign on Wednesday, Oct. 20 (9-10 p.m. ET).

In addition to NBC's Fall series programming, "Saturday Night Live" will enter the political fray again with a new primetime edition of its "Saturday Night Live Presidential Bash" on Election Eve, Monday, Nov. 1 (9:30-11 p.m. ET). The special will spoof presidential elections from past and present much like its predecessors in 2000 and 1992.

A calendar of NBC's Fall 2004-05 premieres follows (previews are indicated in parentheses; new series capitalized; all times ET):

August 30
"Fear Factor" (8-9 p.m.)
(Preview) "HAWAII" (9-10 p.m.)

August 31
"Last Comic Standing" (8-9 p.m.)
"FATHER OF THE PRIDE" (9-9:30 p.m.)
"Scrubs" (9:30-10 p.m.)

September 1
"HAWAII" (8-9 p.m.)

September 6
"Las Vegas" (9-10 p.m.)
"LAX" (10-11 p.m.)

September 9
"JOEY" (8-8:30 p.m.)
"The Apprentice" (8:30-10 p.m.)
(Preview) "MEDICAL INVESTIGATION" (10-11 p.m.)

September 10
"MEDICAL INVESTIGATION" (10-11 p.m.)

September 16
"Will & Grace" (8:30-9:00 p.m.)

September 17
"Third Watch" (9-10 p.m.)

September 21
"Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (10-11 p.m.)

September 22
"Law & Order" (10-11 p.m.)

September 23
"ER" (10-11 p.m.)

September 26
"American Dreams" (8-9 p.m.)
"Law & Order: Criminal Intent" (9-10 p.m.)
"Crossing Jordan" (10-11 p.m.)

October 20
"The West Wing" (9-10 p.m.)

Information about NBC's new Fall series includes the following:

From three of the executive producers behind the mega-successful hit series "Friends" comes the highly anticipated new comedy "Joey." Multiple Emmy, Golden Globe and SAG Award nominee Matt LeBlanc reprises his "Friends" role as charming and still-single Joey, who has struck out on his own and moved to Hollywood, hoping to truly make it as an actor. After reuniting with his high-strung sister Gina (Drea de Matteo - "The Sopranos"), a strong and sexy hairdresser, Joey moves in with her genius 20-year-old son, graduate student Michael (Paulo Costanzo, "Road Trip"), who literally is a rocket scientist. What Joey lacks in book smarts, however, he more than makes up for with his people skills.

From Bright-San Productions and Silver and Gold Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television Production Inc., "Joey" is executive-produced by Kevin S. Bright, Scott Silveri and Shana Goldberg-Meehan. The pilot was written by Goldberg-Meehan and Silveri and directed by Bright.

"Father of the Pride" from DreamWorks Animation, producer of the smash hits, "Shrek" and "Shrek 2," is a new CGI-animated comedy series that goes beyond the glitz of the iconic "Siegfried & Roy" show to glimpse the off-stage antics and the suburban life of the performing white lions.

John Goodman ("Roseanne"), Cheryl Hines ("Curb Your Enthusiasm"), Emmy winner Carl Reiner ("The Dick Van Dyke Show") and Orlando Jones ("Magnolia") lend their talents to the half-hour series that incorporates much of the cheeky, edgy and ironic humor that proved so popular in the DreamWorks hits, "Shrek" and "Shrek 2." Set in Las Vegas, the series centers around the family life of Larry, (voiced by Goodman), a hard-working lion who somehow fell into show business and married a beautiful lioness, Kate (voiced by Hines). Aging but legendary headliner Sarmoti (voiced by Reiner), who was first discovered in Africa by Siegfried & Roy, is constantly at odds with son-in-law Larry. John O'Hurley ("Seinfeld"), Wendie Malick ("Just Shoot Me"), Danielle Andrea Harris ("Rugrats Go Wild") and Daryl Sabara ("Spy Kids") also provide voices.

CGI versions of Siegfried & Roy (voiced by Julian Holloway, "Michael Uncle Silas" and Dave Herman, "Office Space") will also be featured. "Father of the Pride" will be the first prime-time television show with feature film-quality CGI animation. Created by Jeffrey Katzenberg ("Shrek") and Jonathan Groff ("Late Night with Conan O'Brien"), the series is executive-produced by Groff, Jon Pollack ("Spin City," "Just Shoot Me"), Peter Mehlman ("Seinfeld") and Katzenberg. The series is produced by DreamWorks Animation.

This sexy and fun "Hawaii" is an action-packed drama set in the island paradise follows the exploits of Honolulu's Metro Police Department as they solve crimes that could only happen in this exotic locale, using methods unique to Hawaii. Action-star Michael Biehn ("The Rock," "Aliens", "The Terminator") stars as Sean Harrison, a veteran detective on the force who's teamed with island newcomer John Declan (Sharif Atkins, "ER"), a detective who recently arrived from Chicago. Rounding out the cast of cool cops is Ivan Sergei ("Crossing Jordan"), Eric Balfour ("Six Feet Under"), Christopher Gains, Aya Sumika, Peter Navy Tuiasosopo and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa .

Jeff Eastin ("True Lies 2," "Rush Hour 3") is the creator and executive producer of "Hawaii" is joined by co-executive producers Reed Steiner ("The Shield," "Line of Fire," "The District") and Chris Black ("Enterprise," "Sliders"), supervising producer Terri Kopp (NBC's "Third Watch," "Law & Order") and producer Wendy West (NBC's "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," "The Practice") for this new drama from NBC Universal Television.

"LAX" is from Emmy nominated writer Nick Thiel ("Magnum P.I") and producer Mark Gordon ("Saving Private Ryan", "Speed"), a new drama series that explores the behind-the-scenes dramas transpiring daily at the sprawling and bustling Los Angeles International Airport. Heather Locklear ("Spin City") stars as Harley Random, an ambitious, take-charge runway chief based at LAX. Harley is frequently confronted by her rival, terminal boss Roger (Blair Underwood, "L.A. Law", "Sex and the City"), as each jockeys to be named the new director of the airport while working together to solve everything from bomb scares, to VIP arrivals, drunken pilots and roaming pets. Rounding out the cast are Paul Leyden, Wendy Hoopes, David Paetkau and Frank John Hughes.

Created by Thiel, "LAX" is from NBC Universal Television Studios. Gordon and Thiel are executive producers.

In "Medical Investigation," Neal McDonough (NBC's "Boomtown") and Kelli Williams ("The Practice") star as members of a mobile medical team from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) who are summoned in a heartbeat to scope out -- and hopefully snuff out -- outbreaks of unexplained and fearful diseases. McDonough stars as Dr. Stephen Connor, the leader of the team whose take-charge attitude has enabled him to save the lives of millions, but in the process, has sadly cost the separated Connor his family. Williams portrays Dr. Natalie Durant, who specializes in pathology and epidemiology and works under the supervision of Connor. The cast also includes Troy Winbush ("John Q."), Christopher Gorham ("Jake 2.0") and Anna Belknap ("The Handler").

"Medical Investigation" is executive-produced by Laurance Andries (NBC's "Boomtown"), Bob Cooper and Marc Buckland (NBC's "Ed"). The series is created and co-executive produced by Jason Horwitch ("The Pentagon Papers"). The series is from NBC Universal Television Studios and Paramount Network Television production in association with Landscape Entertainment.

�LAST COMIC STANDING� HAS LAST LAUGH IN SUMMER AND NOW ON NBC�S NEW FALL PREMIERE SCHEDULE BEGINNING AUGUST 31

BURBANK, Calif. -� July 10, 2004 �- NBC will introduce its summer alternative hit series "Last Comic Standing" in a new version for Fall on Tuesdays (8-9 p.m. ET) beginning Tuesday, August 31, it was announced today by Kevin Reilly, President, NBC Entertainment.

"'Last Comic' is truly one of the summer's success stories and it resonates because it provides competition, fresh faces and laugh-out-loud comedy," said Reilly. "We decided that rather than wait until next summer, this hot show has proven to be popular enough to merit a prime spot on our Fall lineup."

"Last Comic Standing" has delivered some of this summer's hottest ratings results, including series records of a 4.8 rating, 13 share and 10.4 million viewers overall with its June 9 telecast -- that week's top non-sports program on any network in 18-49. "Last Comic Standing" also ranks among the most upscale reality shows on television, with a top-10 ranking in the representation of homes with incomes of $100,000-plus in its 18-49 audience.

"Last Comic Standing" is hosted and executive produced by actor/comedian Jay Mohr ("Jerry Maguire"). Now in its second summer season, the series provides a new spin on reality television as it features the nationwide talent search for professional and non-professional comedians (both male and female). Once the selection process was narrowed to 10, after the program's final rounds of the national search held in New York and Las Vegas, the program follows the comedians as they live together in a house and are competing for the ultimate prize-an exclusive talent contract with NBC.

In 2003, Dat Phan was voted by America to be the "Last Comic Standing." Since he won, Phan has become the headlining act at comedy clubs nationwide and recently made his acting debut.

In the Summer 2004, veteran producers Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz of Magical Elves have joined the show as executive producers. Cutforth and Lipsitz's credits include the third season of "Project Greenlight" and Bravo's upcoming series "Project Runway." "Last Comic Standing 2" is a Peter Engel Productions in association with Giraffe Productions and NBC Studios. Peter Engel, Barry Katz, Jay Mohr, Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz serve as executive producers.

NBC CELEBRATES THE HOLIDAY SEASON WITH THE WORLD PREMIERE OF A TIMELESS HOLIDAY CLASSIC 'A CHRISTMAS CAROL: THE MUSICAL,' STARRING MULTI-EMMY WINNER, KELSEY GRAMMER, ON NOVEMBER 28

MUSICAL EXTRAVAGANZA FROM HALLMARK ENTERTAINMENT BOASTS ALL-STAR CAST INCLUDING TONY WINNERS JASON ALEXANDER AND JANE KRAKOWSKI, 'LAW & ORDER'S' JESSE L.MARTIN, GERALDINE CHAPLIN AND JENNIFER LOVE HEWITT

BURBANK, Calif. -� July 10, 2004 �- NBC will present the world premiere of what is sure to become a holiday classic, "A Christmas Carol: The Musical," starring Emmy Award winner Kelsey Grammer ("Frasier"), on Sunday, November 28 (9-11 p.m. ET), it was announced today by Kevin Reilly, President, NBC Entertainment.

The two-hour movie musical based on the long-running Madison Square Garden stage production, "A Christmas Carol" � features an all-star cast, headlined by Emmy Award winner Kelsey Grammer ("Frasier") as Scrooge -- in the beloved classic by Charles Dickens and is executive-produced by Emmy-winning Robert Halmi Sr. ("Gulliver's Travels").

Tony Award winner Jason Alexander ("Jerome Robbins' 'Broadway,'" "Seinfeld") stars as Jacob Marley, while Jesse L. Martin ("Law & Order"), Tony Award winner Jane Krakowski ("Nine the Musical," "Ally McBeal"), and three-time Golden Globe nominee Geraldine Chaplin ("Mary, Mother of Jesus," "Mother Teresa") star as the ghosts of Christmas Present, Past and Future, respectively. Jennifer Love Hewitt ("Heartbreakers," "Garfield: The Movie") also stars as Emily, Scrooge's lost love.

The Madison Square Garden production of "A Christmas Carol" features a creative pedigree that includes music by Oscar and Grammy-winning composer Alan Menken ("Aladdin," "Beauty and the Beast"), lyrics from Tony winner Lynn Ahrens ("Ragtime," "Anastasia"), and a book by the late Mike Ockrent ("Crazy for You") and Ahrens (who also wrote the teleplay). Emmy Award winner Arthur Allan Seidelman ("Like Mother, Like Son: The Strange Story of Sante and Kenny Kimes," "An Enemy Among Us") directs this production from Hallmark Entertainment.

Production is currently underway in Budapest, Hungary.

NBC RINGS THE BELL FOR NOVEMBER PREMIERE DATE FOR NEW UNSCRIPTED SERIES �THE CONTENDER�

Competitive Search for Next Boxing Superstar Features Executive Producers Sylvester Stallone, Mark Burnett and Jeffrey Katzenberg

BURBANK, Calif. -� July 10, 2004 �- NBC's "The Contender," a new unscripted series that will launch a competitive search for the next boxing superstar � and features a golden pedigree of executive producers such as Oscar nominee Sylvester Stallone ("Rocky"), Mark Burnett (NBC's "The Apprentice," "Survivor") and Jeffrey Katzenberg ("Shrek 2"), Co-Principal, DreamWorks SKG -- will premiere in November.

The announcement was made by Kevin Reilly, President, NBC Entertainment.

"This exciting new competitive series demonstrates the all-American quest to follow our dreams," said Reilly. "All of us will see ourselves in these would-be champs who are just looking for a chance to succeed."

"The Contender" will trace professional boxers through training camp over 15 episodes � and the final victor will win $1 million. The competitive series has completed its nationwide search for contestants

The legendary Stallone received an Oscar nomination for Best Screenwriting and Best Actor for his work in the breakout � and Oscar-winning hit film "Rocky."

Burnett recently delivered a knockout hit with NBC's "The Apprentice" (Thursdays, 9-10 p.m. ET) that was the season's #1 new show among adults 18-49 and total viewers.

Katzenberg and DreamWorks Television also are producing NBC's new CGI-animated "Father of the Pride" as well as the returning drama hit "Las Vegas."

"The Contender" will be a joint production of Mark Burnett Productions, DreamWorks Television and Rogue Marble. Burnett is the executive producer.





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· ALLY MCBEAL (FOX)
· AMERICAN DREAMS (NBC)
· APPRENTICE, THE (NBC)
· AVERAGE JOE (NBC)
· BOOMTOWN (NBC)
· CHRISTMAS CAROL, A: THE MUSICAL (NBC)
· CONTENDER, THE (VERSUS)
· CROSSING JORDAN (NBC)
· CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM (HBO)
· DISTRICT, THE (CBS)
· ED (NBC)
· ER (NBC)
· FATHER OF THE PRIDE (NBC)
· FEAR FACTOR (NBC)
· FRASIER (NBC)
· FRIENDS (NBC)
· HANDLER, THE (CBS)
· HAWAII (NBC)
· JAKE 2.0 (UPN)
· JOEY (NBC)
· JUST SHOOT ME (NBC)
· LAS VEGAS (NBC)
· LAST COMIC STANDING (NBC)
· LAW & ORDER (NBC)
· LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT (USA)
· LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT (NBC)
· LAX (NBC)
· LIKE MOTHER, LIKE SON: THE STRANGE STORY OF SANTE AND KENNY KIMES (CBS)
· LINE OF FIRE (ABC)
· MARY, MOTHER OF JESUS (NBC)
· MEDICAL INVESTIGATION (NBC)
· PENTAGON PAPERS, THE (FX)
· PRACTICE, THE (ABC)
· PROJECT GREENLIGHT (HBO)
· SCRUBS (ABC)
· SEX AND THE CITY (HBO)
· SHIELD, THE (FX)
· SIX FEET UNDER (HBO)
· SOPRANOS, THE (HBO)
· SPIN CITY (ABC)
· STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE (UPN)
· SURVIVOR (CBS)
· THIRD WATCH (NBC)
· WEST WING, THE (NBC)
· WILL & GRACE (NBC)





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