NBC INTRODUCES SIX NEW PRIMETIME SERIES FOR 2005-06 FALL SCHEDULE WITH ACCENT ON FRESH FACES, INNOVATIVE CONCEPTS AND PROVEN RETURNING SERIES
'MY NAME IS EARL' JOINS NBC'S COMEDY LINEUP;
NEW DRAMAS ARE 'E-RING,' 'FATHOM' AND 'INCONCEIVABLE'
'THE APPRENTICE: MARTHA STEWART' AND 'THREE WISHES'
ARE NEW UNSCRIPTED SERIES
NEW YORK - May 16, 2005 - NBC is emphasizing originality and big ideas in its 2005-06 Fall primetime schedule with a lineup of three new drama series, one new comedy and two unscripted series - continuing its tradition of fresh faces and innovative concepts built on a strong foundation of quality returning series.
The annual program announcement was made today by Jeff Zucker, President, NBC Universal Television Group and Kevin Reilly, President, NBC Entertainment, before the advertising community, affiliates and press at Radio City Music Hall.
"We're very excited and encouraged by the lineup we're presenting today," said Zucker. "I'm confident that we have addressed our schedule needs and will continue to excel in drawing the advertiser-friendly, upscale viewers who have come to appreciate NBC's quality brand of programming."
"NBC viewers will see fresh talent and bold, original concepts in our new series next year," said Reilly, "Our goal is to create real excitement, especially at 8 p.m., which will pay dividends throughout each night. We're eager to be number one again, and this freshman class, combined with NBC's powerful core schedule and recent successes like "Medium," "The Biggest Loser" and "The Office," represent a major step toward getting there."
Highlights of the 2005-06 season include the new dramas: "E-Ring" (Wednesdays, 9-10 p.m. ET), a suspenseful drama from standout producer Jerry Bruckheimer set inside the Pentagon that stars Benjamin Bratt (NBC's "Law & Order") and Dennis Hopper ("Speed"); "Fathom" (Mondays, 8-9 p.m. ET), an ambitious action-adventure about a mysterious new form of sea life that begins to appear in oceans all over the earth; and "Inconceivable" (Fridays, 10-11 p.m. ET), a serialized ensemble drama set inside a fertility clinic, starring Jonathan Cake ("Fallen") and Ming-Na (NBC's "ER").
The new comedy being added in the fall is the smart, fresh "My Name Is Earl" (Tuesdays, 9-9:30 p.m. ET), starring Jason Lee ("Almost Famous"), as a young man who has taken one too many wrong turns on the highway of life but is now determined to make amends.
In keeping with NBC's strategy of launching series all year long, additional new comedies for next season include "Four Kings," from Emmy Award winners David Kohan and Max Mutchnick, the creators of "Will & Grace," and "Thick and Thin," from multi Emmy-Award-winning producer Lorne Michaels, and starring Jessica Capshaw ("The Practice") as a once overweight woman who embarks on a new journey as a fit and newly single woman.
The fall lineup also includes two new unscripted series, "The Apprentice: Martha Stewart") on Wednesdays (8-9 p.m. ET) and "Three Wishes" on Fridays (8-9 p.m. ET), hosted by popular recording artist Amy Grant.
Fan favorites "Scrubs" and "Fear Factor" will also return to the NBC schedule at some point next season.
Additional Fall schedule changes include the move of four-time Emmy winner "The West Wing" to Sundays (8-9 p.m. ET); and the return of the critically acclaimed freshman comedy "The Office" on Tuesdays (9:30-10 p.m. ET). "Dateline NBC" moves up an hour on Fridays (to 9-10 p.m. ET).
(Please see accompanying release for details of NBC's longform programming for 2005-06).
Following is NBC's primetime series schedule for the Fall 2005-06 season. Nightly strategy and show descriptions follow (all times are Eastern).
NBC PRIMETIME SCHEDULE FOR 2005-06
*New programs in CAPS (with the exception of "ER")
8-9 p.m. "FATHOM"
9-10 p.m. "Las Vegas"
10-11 p.m. "Medium"
8-9 p.m. "The Biggest Loser"
9-9:30 p.m. "MY NAME IS EARL"
9:30-10 p.m. "The Office"
10-11 p.m. "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit"
8-9 p.m. "THE APPRENTICE: MARTHA STEWART"
9-10 p.m. "E-RING"
10-11 p.m. "Law & Order"
8-8:30 p.m. "Joey"
8:30-9 p.m. "Will & Grace"
9-10 p.m. "The Apprentice"
10-11 p.m. "ER"
8-9 p.m. "THREE WISHES"
9-10 p.m. "Dateline NBC" (new time period)
10-11 p.m. "INCONCEIVABLE"
8-11 p.m. "NBC SATURDAY NIGHT MOVIE"
7-8 p.m. "Dateline NBC"
8-9 p.m. "The West Wing" (new day and time)
9-10 p.m. "Law & Order: Criminal Intent"
10-11 p.m. "Crossing Jordan"
NIGHT-BY-NIGHT PRIMETIME STRATEGY
"Fathom," one of the season's most ambitious new series, will launch a night of great dramas on NBC, occupying a time period that has been established as an optimal place for family viewing on NBC. "Las Vegas" one year ago was television's number one freshman drama in adults 18-49 and is this season's number one sophomore drama - continuing to deliver a young, upscale audience, despite facing intense competition. "Medium" -- one of the most successful new dramas this season -- improved NBC's 10:00 p.m. performance by nearly 100 percent and delivered the network's highest rating for a Monday drama in 15 seasons.
"The Biggest Loser," which quietly became one of the biggest winners of this past season (improving ratings in that hour versus other regular programming by 116 percent), has potential to open the night strongly. At 9:00 p.m., "My Name Is Earl" is an innovative, irreverent, single-camera comedy that should work well as a lead-in to the critically hailed "The Office" (television's most upscale comedy). The night concludes with the winning "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," which this season delivered its biggest 18-49 audience ever and NBC's most dominant time period win in the history of People Meters.
NBC alters its usual Wednesday-night landscape of three consecutive dramas by opening with the unscripted drama "Martha Stewart: The Apprentice," a buzz-worthy extension of a great franchise that's aimed at jump-starting the night. Executive producer Jerry Bruckheimer's new drama "E-Ring" features high-stakes, theatrical-style action and an appealing cast. NBC's venerable "Law & Order" assumes its usual spot on Wednesdays for a 16th year. The drama took on the challenge of intense competition this season and held its own, continuing to dominate the hour in upscale viewers.
This season, NBC's Thursday lineup was the most upscale night on network television in adults 18-49 living in homes with incomes of $75,000 or more. "Joey" returns as the season's number one new fall comedy and Emmy winner "Will & Grace" enters its final season, having delivered its best season ever in upscale demographics. "The Apprentice" with Donald Trump remains solidly upscale while "ER" - entering its 12th season still on target creatively -- continues to provide choice demographic delivery at night's end. The medical drama has been NBC's number one drama for every one of its 11 seasons.
A reconstituted Friday night includes the emotionally powerful unscripted series "Three Wishes" leading into "Dateline NBC," which makes its return to the 9:00 p.m. hour it long inhabited. "Inconceivable" is a new serialized drama set in a fertility clinic that has contemporary appeal for young married adults as it sifts through thorny ethical and emotional issues.
Box office hits such as "Chicago," "The Italian Job" and "Scary Movie" make their premiere on NBC as the network shifts back to the long tradition of broadcasting movies on Saturdays. Additionally, NBC will occasionally schedule repeat episodes of current series to expose viewers to programs they otherwise might not have the chance to see.
"Dateline NBC" once again opens NBC's Sunday, while the addition of a newly re-energized "The West Wing" should also reinvigorate NBC's fortunes at that hour. The balance of Sundays remains the same with "Law & Order: Criminal Intent"- showcasing Chris Noth as he returns to join series star Vincent D'Onofrio in the brand that made him a star. "Crossing Jordan" caps off the week for NBC having retained 98% of its 18-49 lead-in to keep NBC a competitive number two in the hour.
2005-06 NEW SERIES DESCRIPTIONS
"MY NAME IS EARL" --Earl (Jason Lee, "Almost Famous," "Chasing Amy") has taken one too many wrong turns on the highway of life. A bully and a low-rent crook, Earl wins a lottery and after an epiphany, he is determined to turn his good fortune into a life-changing event as he sets out to right all the wrongs from his past. Despite his seemingly limited intelligence, he is oddly effective -- and ultimately, the comedy series, like Earl himself, has a voice and style all its own. Written and executive-produced by Greg Garcia ("Yes, Dear"), "Earl" also stars Jamie Pressly ("Not Another Teen Movie") as Earl's wife Joy, Ethan Suplee ("Cold Mountain") as his hapless brother, and Nadine Velazquez ("The Bold and the Beautiful") as a hotel maid whom the brothers befriend. "My Name Is Earl" is produced by Twentieth Century Fox Television.
"FOUR KINGS" -- Emmy Award winners David Kohan and Max Mutchnick, creators of the award-winning comedy "Will & Grace," present "Four Kings," an exploration of four lifelong friends on the cusp of adulthood: Barry (Seth Green, the "Austin Powers" franchise, "The Italian Job"), Bobby (Shane McRae, "One Life to Live"), Ben (Josh Cooke, "Committed") and Jason (Todd Grinnell, "The Dangling Conversation") couldn't imagine life without one another. Since childhood, these bosom buddies haven't spent so much as a birthday apart, but when Ben's grandmother, who dubbed them the "Four Kings of New York," passes away, Ben inherits her apartment and decides to share it with his lifelong friends. But despite the comfort of their posh new surroundings and efforts to cling to their youth, adulthood begins drawing these Four Kings knee-deep into situations that aren't always easy to escape in this honest exploration of life-term friendship. "Four Kings" is produced by KoMut Entertainment in association with Warner Bros. Television. David Kohan and Max Mutchnick are the creators and executive producers. James Burrows ("Will & Grace," "Friends") directed the pilot.
"THICK AND THIN" -- From multi Emmy-Award winning producer Lorne Michaels' Broadway Video Television comes this half-hour comedy about Mary (Jessica Capshaw, "The Practice"), a formerly fat woman who embarks on a new journey as a fit and newly single woman. That's easier said than done, however, when Mary's family and friends still see her as her former self. They include her overweight mother (multiple Emmy winner Sharon Gless, "Cagney and Lacey"), her overweight younger sister (newcomer Amy Halloran), her father (Martin Mull, "Roseanne"), and her weight-loss program buddy (Mel Rodriguez, "Panic Room"). But it is at the pool-and-spa company franchise she owns in suburban Florida that she finds her most unlikely confidant, her brother-in-law (Chris Parnell, NBC's "Saturday Night Live"), the company's "leotard-ed" spokesperson named "Captain Chlorine." When a cringe-worthy misstep lands her in bed with her ex, she realizes that getting thin was less about pleasing others -- and more about being comfortable in her own skin. Emmy Award winner Paula Pell ("Saturday Night Live") is the series' creator and writer of the pilot. The executive producers are Lorne Michaels (NBC's "Saturday Night Live") and JoAnn Alfano ("The Tracy Morgan Show"). Gail Mancuso ("Roseanne") directed the pilot. "Thick and Thin" is from by Broadway Video Television in association with NBC Universal Television Studio.
"E-RING" -- Executive producer Jerry Bruckheimer ("CSI" franchise), Oscar-nominated director/producer Taylor Hackford ("Ray") and stars Benjamin Bratt ("Traffic," "Law & Order") and Dennis Hopper ("Easy Rider," "Speed") join forces in this pulsating drama set inside the nation's ultimate fortress: the Pentagon. It's a hub of highly explosive conflicts between American military heroes and the civilians to whom they report -- a world where crises can escalate into life-and-death climaxes, for individuals or entire nations. Viewers witness critical decisions by intelligence officers in the war room and the execution of these decisions by covert special ops on the battlefield. The number-one mission is survival of the state - an often-delicate balance between protecting the homeland and protecting either all of mankind or the life of a lone soldier. Jerry Bruckheimer Television in association with Warner Bros. Television produces "E-Ring." Thirty-time Emmy nominee Bruckheimer serves as executive producer along with Jonathan Littman ("The Amazing Race," "CSI: NY") and David McKenna ("S.W.A.T.," "Blow"). McKenna also wrote the pilot, which was directed by Hackford.
"FATHOM" -- Ever wonder what life would be like if a new form of sea life began to appear in locales all over the earth? In this expansive drama, those who are about to find out include some naval officers in the South Antarctic Sea, a family in San Diego, scientists from the Oceanographic Institute in Monterey, and fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico. The seemingly innocent creatures they find are beautiful and kids may even want to play with them -- but is there something more to them? One thing's for sure - they're full of surprises as viewers can embark on this unfathomable journey to discover what might be lurking in the sea. Lake Bell ("Boston Legal") stars as Daughtery Carstarphen, along with Jay R. Ferguson ("Judging Amy") as Richard Owen, Rade Serbedzija ("Snatch") as Dr. Aleksander Cirko, and Carter Jenkins ("CSI: NY") as Miles. "Fathom" is from NBC Universal Television Studio and was created by Josh and Jonas Pate ("Dragnet"), who also serve as executive producers.
"INCONCEIVABLE" -- Come inside the world of the doctors of the Family Options Fertility Clinic in this ensemble drama, where one of the most complicated questions is to conceive -- or not to conceive. Assuredly, theirs is a noble quest as they help desperate couples give birth; however, clinic co-founders Dr. Malcolm Bower (Jonathan Cake, "Fallen") and Rachael Lew (Ming-Na, NBC's Emmy-winning "ER") and their staff, including psychologist Lydia Crawford (guest-starring Alfre Woodard, "Beauty Shop"), Nurse Patrice (Joelle Carter, "American Pie 2"), office manager Marrissa (Mary Catherine Garrison, "How to Deal") and attorney Scott (David Norona, "Mr. Sterling") are not above their own occasional adventures involving sex, deception and secrets. As viewers navigate through the ultrasound and super-egos, the missing frozen embryos and impending malpractice suits, it's positively clear that life inside this clinic is anything but sterile. "Inconceivable" is a Tollin-Robbins production in association with Touchstone Television. Mike Tollin ("Smallville"), Brian Robbins ("Smallville"), Joe Davola ("Smallville"), Oliver Goldstick ("Desperate Housewives") and Marco Pennette ("What I Like About You") serve as executive producers.
New Unscripted Series
"THE APPRENTICE: MARTHA STEWART" -- "The Apprentice: Martha Stewart" will retain the general format of the original alternative series, including weekly eliminations; however, the style and feel of this new show will be tailored to Martha Stewart's personality and brand identity. The tasks will be centered around Stewart's areas of expertise: media, home renovation, entertaining, design, merchandising, technology and style. Stewart will bring her own sensibilities and creativity to the elimination process which will feature two of her most trusted colleagues who help her make the decision each week. Mark Burnett is creator and executive producer of "The Apprentice: Martha Stewart." Donald J. Trump and Jay Bienstock are also executive producers. Conrad Riggs and Kevin Harris are co-executive producers.
"THREE WISHES" -- Five-time Grammy-winning recording artist Amy Grant ("Rock of Ages...Hymns & Faith") stars in this hour-long, unscripted series in which she leads a team of experts to a small town to "grant" wishes to help make the hopes and unbelievable dreams of deserving people come true. Viewers will follow some of the town folks' deeply personal and heartwarming stories as Grant and her team transform these hopes into a life-changing reality. The full spectrum of wishes ranges from paying tribute to an unsung hero to helping a despairing family in the grip of a loved one's life-threatening medical crisis. Additional "wish" examples include: tearful reunions with long-lost relatives; living out a mind-blowing sports fantasy, and helping to save a dedicated teacher's job. Carpenter Carter Oosterhouse ("Trading Spaces"), contractor Eric Stromer ("Clean Sweep") and architect Amanda Miller ("Knock First") comprise Grant's team of experts. Andrew Glassman (NBC's "Average Joe 1-4") and Jason Raff (NBC's "Average Joe 1-4") are the executive producers, and Tony Croll (NBC's "Average Joe") is the director of this pilot from Glassman Media and NBC Universal Television Studio.