NEW YORK – FOX (search) is adding five new dramas and two comedies to a nearly reality-free schedule next fall, while UPN (search) said Thursday it wants to start a new Thursday comedy tradition with Chris Rock.
They were the last of the broadcast networks to announce their fall schedules to advertisers this week.
Riding its annual "American Idol" high and benefiting from NBC's collapse, FOX will finish this season No. 1 among the 18-to-49-year-old viewers craved by advertisers for the first time in its 17-year-history.
"We have no doubt we have a big target on our back," said Fox Entertainment President Peter Liguori. "We don't know what it's like to be No. 1 but we know people will be gunning for us."
FOX is taking big chances with two of its most-praised shows. The medical drama "House" became a hit on Tuesdays this spring among viewers who stayed with FOX after "American Idol" and liked what they saw. FOX keeps it on Tuesday in the fall and moves it to Monday alongside "24" in January — testing the loyalty of those new viewers.
There was some question whether FOX would even renew the Emmy-winning comedy "Arrested Development," (search) given that few viewers have made it a habit. Not only did FOX bring it back, it moved the show to Monday, alongside two new series.
"I recognize that putting it on at 8 o'clock is a bold, audacious move," Liguori said. "But we have confidence in the show."
When "Idol" begins again in January, FOX dramatically changes its lineup on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights. FOX traditionally has trouble establishing shows in the fall because its prime-time schedule is pre-empted for baseball much of October, but Liguori said he hoped to start a handful of shows early to give them a head start. He's also running some shows, like "24" and "Arrested Development," straight through without repeats.
Its new series feature a down-on-their-luck lawyer and chef, a forensic anthropologist and a San Francisco detective.
Except for the Saturday staples of "COPS" and "America's Most Wanted," the network that largely pioneered the reality genre had no reality on either its fall or spring schedules.
Liguori said it was a reflection of strong scripted series development and not resistance to the genre. He said new episodes of "Trading Spouses," "Nanny 911" and "The Simple Life" had been ordered; odds are in the television business that some of the new series will fail and Fox will need quick replacements.
There's no word on whether Nicole Richie, rumored to feuding with co-star Paris Hilton, will be back for another season of "The Simple Life." Both stars are under contract for two more seasons.
FOX has canceled "Life on a Stick" and "Quintuplets."
FOX's new fall series:
_ "Prison Break," a drama about a man on death row. His brother is convinced he's innocent and robs a bank to get in the same prison, where he comes armed with an elaborate escape plan.
_ "Bones," a sort of "CSI" for REALLY dead people, is a drama about a team of forensic anthropologists who study bones to solve crimes.
_ "Head Cases" stars Chris O'Donnell as a lawyer who gets kicked out by his wife and suffers a nervous breakdown. He meets Rachel Leigh Cook to help him get on his feet again.
_ "Reunion," sort of the inverse of "24," the series follows six friends over the course of 20 years. Each episode is set in a different year.
_ "The Gate," set in San Francisco, is a drama about a detective in the police department's deviant crime unit.
_ "The War at Home" is a comedy about once-rebellious parents of now-rebellious kids.
_ "Kitchen Confidential" is a comedy about a once-hot cook stuck slinging pasta at a restaurant chain because of his boozing lifestyle. He's given one chance at a job at a top restaurant but has 48 hours to impress 300 people — including the food critic at The New York Times, a jilted ex.
UPN, which already has a comedy based on the life of Will Smith, will add another based on the childhood of Rock. UPN is moving "WWE Smackdown!" to Friday nights to make way for "Everybody Hates Chris" and three other comedies.
"'Everybody Loves Raymond,' 'Everybody Hates Chris,'" Rock said. "White man out, black man in. See how it works?"
UPN executives believe it can be a landmark series for the network. Obviously thinking little of NBC's "Joey," UPN President Dawn Ostroff said there's a void of television comedy on Thursday nights.
UPN is seeking an audience of teenage girls and young women on the nights it doesn't air wrestling, aggressively going after an audience its competitor the WB once owned. It continually flashed the slogan "Where the Girls Are" in a presentation to advertisers.
Its two other new series are "Sex, Lies & Secrets," with Denise Richards heading a group of twentysomething friends, and "Love, Inc., starring Shannen Doherty and Holly Robinson Peete as dating consultants.
The Taye Diggs drama "Kevin Hill" was canceled, as was "Second Time Around."