By Lloyd Carroll
During the past two months the various cable and broadcast television networks presented sneak previews of their fall schedules to advertisers and the media.
Many actors who grew up in Queens will be seen on TV this fall. Forest Hills natives David Caruso and Ray Romano return to hit series (CBS’s “CSI Miami” and TNT’s “Men of a Certain Age” respectively) while Hank Azaria and David Krumholz are each starring in new NBC series, “Free Agents” and “The Playboy Club.” St. Albans’ own LL Cool J returns for third season to CBS’ “NCIS Los Angeles.” Donald Trump, who grew up in Jamaica Estates, launched an incredibly successful campaign this past spring. His alleged presidential aspirations created a ton of attention for “Celebrity Apprentice” which clearly impressed the new management team at NBC. Trump announced his “reluctant decision” not to enter the Republican presidential primary (even though he stated that he was certain that he would have won) at the May 16 NBC Upfront. Yes, the Donald won something more important than the White House; namely television series renewal.
Here is a quick look at some of the new programs that the broadcast networks will have on their fall schedules.
It’s no secret that new NBC network chairman Ted Harbert and NBC Entertainment president Bob Greenblatt have their work cut out for them after former NBC czar Jeff Zucker decimated the Peacock Network with senseless cost cutting as exemplified by the disastrous 10 PM weeknight “Jay Leno Show” last fall. At the Upfront Greenblatt begged advertisers for patience and admitted to me that he has doubts about some of the shows that are on the fall schedule.
The success of AMC’s “Mad Men,” a show about the early 1960s ad industry has revived interest in the JFK-Camelot era. The aforementioned “Playboy Club” looks at life inside Hugh Hefner’s famed Chicago nightclub. That show looks promising as does “Prime Suspect,” a gritty New York police drama starring Maria Bello. NBC’s new comedies however, “Bent,” “BFF” “Up All Night,” and “Whitney” (starring hot comedienne Whitney Cummings who has made a name for herself on Comedy Channel roasts) did not cause massive laughter.
At the NBC Upfront “Saturday Night Live Weekend Update” anchor Seth Meyers humorously reported “Three TV legends, Meredith Viera, Larry King and Jim Lehrer are all retiring. That means three new viewers for CBS!”
Yes, the Tiffany Network has always skewed a little older than the other broadcast networks, thanks primarily to its very successful crime procedurals, but its primetime lineup has proven to be far more durable than its competitors.
CBS will stay with a winning formula as it launches two new Big Apple-based crime dramas, “Unforgettable” and “Person of Interest.” “A Gifted Man,” stars Patrick Wilson as a Manhattan surgeon who gives up a lucrative practice to work in a Bronx clinic after he keeps having conversations with the spirit of a past flame who recently passed away. Think of the 1990 Demi Moore-Patrick Swayze flick, “Ghost,” and more recently, Jennifer Love Hewitt’s TV melodrama, “Ghost Whisperer.”
A new Monday night comedy, “2 Broke Girls,” starring popular indie film actress Kat Dennings, was the most clever comedy snippet that I saw at any of the Upfronts.
We’ll quickly learn whether Simon Cowell made “American Idol” or whether it was vice-versa when Cowell’s much ballyhooed talent competition, “The X-Factor,” debuts this fall.
The other big buzz coming from Fox is the sci-fi “Terra Nova” whose executive producer is Steven Spielberg. Jason O’Mara, who was terrific in the very underappreciated 2009 ABC series, “Life on Mars,” about a guy who wakes up and finds himself living in 1973, goes back farther in time here, as he has to battle dinosaurs.
Whereas CBS nabbed Kat Dennings to try to hook in a hipper audience, Fox is attempting to do the same by having Zooey Deschanel, who has been in a number of fine small films such as “500 Days of Summer,” star in a romantic comedy, “The New Girl.”
“Back to the future” appears to be the Alphabet Network’s mantra as it will attempt to revive “Charlie’s Angels,” one of whose stars is Derek Jeter’s girlfriend, Minka Kelly. ABC wants America to return to the swinging ‘60s as well with “Pan Am,” a drama about pilots and stewardesses (they weren’t called flight attendants then.)
“Work It,” a comedy about two guys who have to dress as women to get a job in the lucrative pharmaceutical sales industry, is sadly no “Bosom Buddies.”
It’s no secret that the CW’s main audience is young women. This coming season however the CW seems willing to try to expand its audience somewhat. “Hart of Dixie,” starring Rachel Bilson as a young New York doctor who finds herself working in rural Alabama, is a bit more sophisticated than say, “Gossip Girl.” “Re-Modeled,” a reality series starring Simon Cowell-wannabe Paul Fischer as a consultant to struggling small market modeling agencies, should generate some attention as well.