Comedies are central to ABC, NBC fall lineups

— ABC will revive its "TGIF" Friday night lineup this fall and hopes to similarly revive its fortunes by airing more comedies than any of its broadcast rivals.

The network, a dismal fourth in the ratings for most of the past few months, will introduce four new comedies and three new dramas in September.

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AP Photo

John Ritter, left, Kaley Cuoco and Thad Luckinbill appear in a scene from ABC's "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter." ABC, in an attempt to improve ratings, will place greater emphasis on comedies for the network's 2003 fall schedule.

Meanwhile, NBC is turning to Whoopi Goldberg, John Larroquette and a racy British import next fall in an effort to develop new comedies.

ABC's offerings

ABC's fall lineup will have 10 comedies, probably expanding to 12 in the following months, said Lloyd Braun, ABC entertainment chairman. NBC will have eight. CBS, which releases its schedule today, currently has six.

The new "TGIF" lineup will include the returning series "George Lopez" and "Life with Bonnie" and two new shows. It will be less teen-oriented than before ABC abandoned the idea in 2000, but will still appeal to families. One of the Friday comedies will be "Hope & Faith," starring Kelly Ripa as a washed-up soap star going back to live with her sister, played by Faith Ford. "Life with Bonnie" will also be part of the night's lineup.

"8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter" will return on Tuesdays. ABC is also keeping "The Practice" on the air, and moving it to Sunday. In something of a surprise, "Dragnet" also returns, but will be renamed "L.A. Dragnet" and introduce several new characters.

ABC News gets a third newsmagazine, "Primetime Monday," to air before football. The network also said John Stossel will become Barbara Walters' co-host on "20/20," replacing John Miller, who left the network.

"The Wonderful World of Disney" will move from Sunday to Saturday. ABC will air more adult movies on Mondays after football ends.

"The Bachelor" returns for a fourth attempt at matchmaking. ABC will broadcast the two-hour wedding of former bachelorette Trista Rehn and beau Ryan Sutter as a special in the fall, with a two-hour preamble.

"Extreme Makeover" will be back, as ABC tries reality series in the tough 8 p.m. Thursday time slot. 'Are You Hot' will not be back.

ABC's new series:

l "10-8," a drama about rookie cops in Los Angeles that will air on Sunday nights.

l "Back to Kansas," a comedy starring Breckin Meyer as a New Yorker who moves to Kansas to be near his wife's large family.

l "I'm With Her," a comedy about a high school teacher who dates a movie star, created by Chris Henchy -- a relative unknown who's married to Brooke Shields.

l "It's All Relative," a comedy about a woman, whose parents are two gay men, marrying a man with blue-collar parents.

l "Karen Sisco," a drama based on the character portrayed by Jennifer Lopez in "Out of Sight," about a sexy U.S. marshal in Miami.

l "Threat Matrix," a high-tech drama about the Homeland Security Agency.

NBC's schedule

In Whoopi Goldberg's new show, "Whoopi," she's an ex-singer running her own hotel in New York City. "Happy Family" has ex-"Night Court" star John Larroquette and Christine Baranski as a couple whose children move back home after college.

Three new dramas, including one starring "The West Wing" refugee Rob Lowe, will be on the fall schedule.

"Coupling," an American version of a hit British comedy, will get the valuable Thursday 8:30 p.m. time slot. The show is an obvious cousin of "Friends" but decidedly more raunchy.

NBC is switching the sophomore-year comedy "Good Morning, Miami" and the hit drama "Law & Order: Special Victim's Unit" to Tuesday.

NBC is canceling the comedies "Just Shoot Me" and "Watching Ellie," and won't bring back the mob drama "Kingpin." "Crossing Jordan" is off the schedule until next winter because star Jill Hennessy is pregnant.

The long-running newsmagazine "Dateline NBC" has been cut from three to two airings per week, losing its Tuesday berth. The show is searching for a replacement for retiring co-anchor Jane Pauley.

NBC has extended its deal with Warner Brothers Television to keep "ER" on the air for at least three more seasons.

Two dramas thought to be on the bubble for returning, "Ed" and "Boomtown," will both be on the schedule. Vanessa Williams will join the cast of "Boomtown."

NBC also ordered a comedy series starring "Saturday Night Live" cast member Tracy Morgan to start in midseason. That means Morgan will leave the late-night sketch comedy.

NBC's other new series:

l "Las Vegas," a drama that stars veteran actor James Caan leading a surveillance team in charge of security at a casino.

l "Miss Match," a lighthearted drama based on a real-life Manhattan woman who's a divorce attorney by day and a high-priced matchmaker at night. Alicia Silverstone stars.

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