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Television
John Kiesewetter on the world of local and national TV


Senior Entertainment Reporter John Kiesewetter has been covering TV and media issues for 20 years. After joining the Cincinnati Enquirer in 1975 as a summer intern, he worked as a county government and suburban reporter; assistant city editor and suburban editor; and features editor supervising the Life section. He has a B.S. in journalism from Ohio University.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

ABC Announces Fall Lineup (Part 2)

ABC's new fall comedies:
“Betty the Ugly” (one-hour comedy, Friday, 8:00 p.m., ET) – In the superficial world of high fashion, image is everything. Styles come and go, and the only constants are the wafer-thin beauties who wear them. How can an ordinary girl -- a slightly plump plain-Jane from Queens -- possibly fit in?

If you took a moment to get to know Betty Suarez, you'd see how sweet, intelligent and hard-working she is. But few people do because, in the world of fashion, Betty is the oversized square peg in the petite round hole. When publishing mogul Bradford Meade hands the reigns of his fashion magazine, Mode, over to his son, Daniel, he specifically hires Betty as his son's new assistant – mostly because she's the only woman in NYC Daniel won't sleep with. Though this “player” is reluctant to accept her at first, Betty’s indomitable spirit and bright ideas will eventually win him over. Neither of them really knows the ins and outs of the fashion world, but the two of them are a formidable team against the label-wearing sharks who will do anything to see them fail.

Executive producers Salma Hayek and Silvio Horta, the creator of “Urban Legend,” bring the Latino television phenomenon to an English-speaking audience. America Ferrera (“The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants”) and Eric Mabius (“The L Word”) are the “Working Girl” couple who tackle the colorful, cutthroat world of fashion head on.

Cast:
America Ferrera (“The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants”): Betty Suarez
Eric Mabius (“The O.C.”): Daniel Meade
Ana Ortiz (“Boston Legal”): Hilda
Vanessa Williams (“Chicago Hope”): Wilhelmina Slater
Tony Plana (“24”): Ignacio
Ashley Jensen: Christina
Becki Newton (“Charmed”): Amanda
Mark Indelicato: Justin
Alan Dale (“The O.C.”): Bradford Meade
Credits:
EP/Writer: Silvio Horta (“Jake 2.0”)
EP: Ben Silverman (“The Office”)
EP: Salma Hayek (“Frida”)
EP: Jose Tamez (“The Maldonado Miracle”)
Director: Richard Shepard (“Criminal Minds”)
Production Company: Touchstone Television

“Big Day” (half-hour, Thursday, 8:00 p.m., ET) – If “24” married “Father of the Bride,” their child would be “Big Day.” Everything matters at a wedding, and the smallest imperfections can reverberate throughout the event as if lives actually hang in the balance. Choice of side salad? A trivial decision you would think, but for the mother of the bride, this might as well be the most critical decision of her life, and if you're the caterer, you’d better get it right. That’s just the beginning -- the maid of honor accidentally drinks the best man’s contacts after sleeping with him, and the father of the bride wants to stop the wedding. Things are about to get even more complicated for Danny and Alice, as their day turns into a season-long roller coaster where nothing goes according to plan. Over the course of an entire season, each episode will focus on one day – Danny and Alice’s wedding day.

The writers of “What Women Want” and “13 Going on 30” take a full season to dissect the biggest day in any family's life. Marla Sokoloff (“Desperate Housewives”), Josh Cooke (“Four Kings”) and Wendie Malick (“Just Shoot Me”) star.


Cast:
Marla Sokoloff (“Desperate Housewives“): Alice
Josh Cooke (“Four Kings”): Danny
Wendie Malick (“Just Shoot Me”): Jane
Kurt Fuller (“Desperate Housewives”): Steve
Miriam Shor (“Hedwig and the Angry Inch”): Becca
Stephen Rannazzisi (“Kitchen Confidential”): Skobo
Stephanie Weir (“Fun with Dick and Jane”): Lorna
Credits:
EP/Writer: Josh Goldsmith and Cathy Yuspa (“13 Going on 30”)
Director: Michael Spiller (“Jake in Progress”)
Production Company: Sony Pictures Television

“Help Me Help You” (half-hour, Tuesday, 9:30 p.m., ET) – Whoever came up with the idea of group therapy? Take a bunch of people who are all really messed up in different ways and put them in a room together to try and help each other out. The group leader, Dr. Bill Hoffman, is probably the craziest and most self-obsessed of all, but his patients would never know it because he hides behind his very respectable celebrity image as a bestselling author of phenomenally successful self-help books.

Directed by Brian Dannelly (“Saved,” “Weeds”), the series explores the comical side of group therapy as members of the group apply the good doctor's advice to the real world with enthusiastic effort, until they begin to realize maybe Dr. Bill should be doing the heavy lifting along with them. Ted Danson (“Cheers”) stars.

Cast:
Ted Danson (“Cheers”): Dr. Bill Hoffman
Charlie Finn (“The Dukes of Hazzard”): Dave
Jim Rash (“That ‘70s Show”): Jonathan
Suzy Nakamura (“Dodgeball”): Inger
Darlene Hunt (“I Heart Huckabees”): Darlene
Jere Burns (“Good Morning Miami”): Michael
Jane Kaczmarek (“Malcolm in the Middle”): Guest Star/Anne
Credits:
EP/Writer: Jennifer Konner (“Undeclared”)
EP/Writer: Alexandra Rushfield (“Undeclared”)
Director: Brian Dannelly (“Weeds”)
Production Company: Regency Television

“In Case of Emergency” (half-hour) – Who you were in high school is usually not who you end up being. Harry, Jason, Sherman and Kelly all went to the same high school. Several years on since graduation, their lives haven’t exactly turned out the way they planned. Diet guru Sherman will hijack a pastry truck and over-indulge after discovering his wife left him and cleaned him out. In the face of a fraud indictment, financial whiz Jason will dodge the suicide bullet only to shoot himself in the foot… literally. Unhappily divorced, Harry goes for a relaxing "massage," only to discover his scantily clad “masseuse” is Kelly, their high school valedictorian. A series of emergencies will reunite this hapless brood and they’ll find, at the end of the day, that they’ve got each other in case of emergency.

Director Jon Favreau (“Elf,” “Swingers”) directs Jonathan Silverman (“Jekyll”), David Arquette (“Scream”), Greg Germann (“Ally McBeal”) and Kelly Hu (“The Scorpion King”) as a fresh quartet of emotionally and physically injured oddballs, and Lori Laughlin (“Full House”) as the doctor who grounds them all. Together, they're proving that any colossal mistake can be overcome with a lot of help from your friends... and pain killers.

Cast:
Jonathan Silverman (“The Single Guy”): Harry Kennison
David Arquette (“Scream”): Jason Ventress
Greg Germann (“Ally McBeal”): Sherman Yablonsky
Kelly Hu (“CSI:NY”): Kelly Lee
Lori Loughlin (“Full House”): Dr. Joanna Lupone
Nicholas Roget-King (“Yours, Mine and Ours”): Dylan
Credits:
EP/Writer: Howard J. Morris (“According to Jim”)
EP: Emile Levisetti (“Hope & Faith”)
EP/Director: Jon Favreau (“Elf,” “Swingers”)
Production Company: Touchstone Television

“Let’s Rob…” (half-hour, Tuesday, 9:00 p.m., ET) – For almost 20 years, Eugene Gurkin has dreamt of opening a bar, but his dead end job on the late, late janitorial shift won't even fund a bottle of premium booze. In the wake of a co-worker's death, he catches an episode of television. Call it divine intervention, call it a dumb idea, but whatever it is takes hold of Eugene and soon he recruits a group of misfits into his "gang" for a heist to finance their dreams. The target: Rock icon Mick Jagger’s super-luxe Central Park West apartment. Working together, this band of affable, new-age Robin Hoods, who have never even shoplifted a candy bar, are soon casing the joint and prepping for their crime. What they don't know is that there's a much richer target for them… the chance to find hope, self-esteem and confidence within themselves.

From Jon Beckerman and Rob Burnett, producers of “Late Show with David Letterman” and creators of “Ed,” comes a hilarious tale of haves and have nots. Donal Logue (“Grounded for Life”) stars. Mick Jagger appears in a cameo (he is not a series regular).

Cast:
Donal Logue (“Grounded for Life”): Eugene Gurkin
Maz Jobrani (“Life on a Stick”): Gary
Sofia Vergara (“Four Brothers”): Esperanza Villalobos
Kevin Michael Richardson (“The Boondocks”): Rockefeller Butts
Lenny Venito (“NYPD Blue”): Francis “Squatch” Scuacieri
Josh Grisetti: Louis Plunk
Credits:
EP/Writer/Director: Rob Burnett (“Ed”)
EP/Writer: Jon Beckerman (“Ed”)
EP: Mick Jagger
EP: Victoria Pearman
Production Company: Touchstone Television

“Notes from the Underbelly” (half-hour, Thursday, 8:30 p.m., ET) – Andrew and Lauren have just found out they're going to have a baby, and they’re having a difficult time following rule number one – keeping it secret. Suddenly switching to decaf, becoming a teetotaler at cocktail parties, and going to the OBGYN are all difficult to keep from family and close friends.

Well Andrew and Lauren are about to learn that, when the secret gets out, the politics of parenthood can be just as demanding as raising a child. Sometimes all that "help" from loving but intrusive parents and "advice" from well-meaning but competitive friends who are trying to show you what great parents they are is not exactly what you're looking for. Knowing what's best for the child could be the easiest part... maintaining your relationships with family and friends can be the real challenge.

Director Barry Sonnenfeld and two producers of “Two and a Half Men” create a comic take on life's greatest adventure. As these friends watch their lives change to accommodate the little stranger, their relationships change in ways they never expected before they were expecting. Peter Cambor and Jennifer Westfeldt (“Kissing Jessica Stein”) star.

Cast:
Peter Cambor (“Up to the Roof”): Andrew
Jennifer Westfeldt (“Numbers”): Lauren
Melanie Paxson (“Cupid”): Julie
Rachael Harris (“The West Wing”): Cooper
Michael Weaver (“Monk”): Danny
Sunkrish Bala (“Barbershop”): Eric
Credits:
EP/Writer: Stacy Traub (“What I Like About You”)
EP: Eric Tannenbaum (“Two and a Half Men”)
EP: Kim Tannebaum (“Two and a Half Men”)
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld (“Lemony Snicket’s a Series of Unfortunate Events”)
Production Company: Warner Bros. Television, The Tannenbaum Company

ALTERNATIVE SERIES

“Greg Behrendt’s Wake-Up Call” – Greg Behrendt, acclaimed author of He’s Just Not That Into You, will address one couple’s major issues and use his knowledge of relationships to give them the tools to fix theirs. Through his off-the-cuff comedy and bruised-and-battered romantic experience, Greg takes a close look from a different angle to give our couple advice as a close friend, but also that of sage wisdom.


“Just for Laughs” -- ABC has licensed six half-hour episodes of the hidden-camera comedy series. The series cuts across cultural boundaries and has universal appeal, entertaining audiences of all ages and demographics by mixing clever practical jokes, hidden cameras and a few unsuspecting victims.

“Set for the Rest of Your Life” -- Just imagine: You’re leaving the studio financially independent with a monthly payment for as long as you live! Yes, even if you are to live another 100 years. With a big smile on your face, you will be cashing a monthly check for the rest of your life. Now how does that sound? In this high-tension game show, the contestant will first battle for the highest monthly check possible. Does he end up with $50 a month? $500 a month? Or will he receive well over $10,000 a month? The contestant’s next battle is even more important: Time! Does he win that payment just for one month? For a quarter of a year, half a year, one year? For three, ten, twenty years maybe? Or… for the rest of his life? And… did the contestant’s partner, hidden in a sound-proof isolation booth away from where it’s all happening, help to make that dream come true or turn that dream into a nightmare? “Set for the Rest of Your Life” is a game show for strong relationships only, that’s for sure!

-30-


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