LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The Television Critics Association concluded its winter press tour this weekend in which the various broadcast and cable networks talk about their upcoming plans to the nation's top critics and entertainment reporters. It's during these sessions the networks roll out most of their midseason plans as well as look back at the highs and lows of the new season.
Here's some additional notes from the panels that weren't covered in their respective press releases:
THE APPRENTICE - The Peacock has gone ahead and locked up Donald Trump to host at least two more seasons of the popular reality series. The news means "The Donald" will be at the "Apprentice" helm through the entire 2005-06 season (its fourth and fifth editions).
SUMMER SERIES - Like previous years, NBC will feature mostly unscripted programming during the summer months. In addition to the previously announced "I Want to Be a Hilton" and "Tommy Lee Goes to College," the network confirmed the David E. Kelley-produced "The Law Firm" and season two of "The Biggest Loser" will also be part of its summer plans.
UNCOMMON SENSE (New!) - NBC also added another comedy pilot to its roster, greenlighting the Larry Miller-led "Uncommon Sense." The semi-autobiographical project features the comedian as a columnist with a wry sense of humor, and revolves around his relationship with his wife. Miller and his real-life wife Eileen Conn will write the script to the project, which is set up at Sony Pictures Television, with the pair also executive producing. In addition, NBC is helping with the deficit financing of the pilot in exchange for an exclusive first-look option on it after it is completed.
THE WEST WING - The network is currently in talks with Warner Bros. Television to bring back the series for a seventh season. It's not clear however which cast members would return should a new season go forward.
The WB (Saturday)
BEAUTY AND THE GEEK (A.K.A. UNTITLED KATALYST PROJECT) - Executive producers Ashton Kutcher and Jason Goldberg ("Punk'd") revealed some additional details about their latest reality effort, which was originally announced last September (read the story). The project, which has a six-episode order, will (as one could probably gather from the title) feature a group of "geeks" as they are given makeovers by several "beauties" and compete for an unspecified prize. As has become standard with reality series as of late, the pair were mum on specifics about the format. "Beauty" is expected to premiere this summer.
BLUE COLLAR TV - The successful sketch comedy series will move back to Thursday nights at 8:00/7:00c beginning March 3. It's not clear however if former companion "Drew Carey's Green Screen" will also return to the schedule that same night.
ONE TREE HILL/THE STARLET - Much like the third season of "High School Reunion" took over "One Tree Hill's" Tuesday, 9:00/8:00c slot in December and January to avoid airing repeats of the latter series, so will the Mike Fleiss-produced "The Starlet" come March and April. "The Starlet" will assume said slot on March 8 and run for six weeks, with "Hill" returning on April 19. Encores of "The Starlet" are also slated to run on Thursdays at 9:00/8:00c during the six-week period.
UNTITLED SARA GILBERT PROJECT (New!) - The Frog confirmed it is developing a Sara Gilbert-led comedy from executive producers Max Mutchnick and David Kohan ("Will & Grace"). Kari Lizer is understood to be writing the pilot script, which features Gilbert as a fraternal twin.
THE DAYS - Despite some rumblings of possibly returning for a second season this summer, ABC confirmed the series will not return to its schedule.
EMPIRE - The six-hour limited series now seems on target for a summer premiere. It will reportedly be the tentpole for the Alphabet's strategy during the period, along with its NBA playoff coverage.
LIFE AS WE KNOW IT - ABC isn't expected to order any additional episodes of the series beyond the 13 completed. And with pre-emptions in store for the next four weeks - January 27 ("In Style: Celebrity Weddings"), February 3 ("Happy Days 30th Anniversary Reunion"), February 10 (a two-hour "Extreme Makeover") and February 17 (a second episode of "Extreme Makeover") - it seems unlikely the two remaining installments will air. "It's been one of my frustrations," ABC topper Steve McPherson told reporters. "Sometimes you do your best and you come up short."
N.Y.P.D. BLUE - A one-hour retrospective of the show's 12 seasons will air prior to its finale on Tuesday, March 1.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters