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ABC gives itself an extreme makeover

ABC is tearing up its lineup and practically starting over, a process that is becoming an annual ritual.

The Disney-owned network Tuesday rolled out a fall lineup featuring eight new series, with three more reserved for midseason. Every night's lineup will undergo some revision, with the boldest gambit coming on Tuesday. Three of the network's most popular sitcoms will be clustered there, with My Wife and Kids and The George Lopez Show joining According to Jim. The star-crossed 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter and Less Than Perfect have been relocated to Friday. Notably absent from Sunday is Alias, which will not resurface until January.

The schedule announcement was made as part of upfront week, the period each May when all the broadcast networks show off their fare to advertisers.

ABC's new lineup could hardly do worse than the one it replaces. Of all the dramas and comedies introduced this season, only one is returning -- Hope & Faith, whose renewal is almost totally owed to the personal popularity of Kelly Ripa. Married to the Kellys, I'm With Her, Karen Sisco, It's All Relative, Threat Matrix, 10-8, Line of Fire, The D.A., Kingdom Hospital and The Big House were canceled. Holdovers L.A. Dragnet and Life With Bonnie also were cut loose.

Not coincidentally, ABC executives Lloyd Braun and Susan Lyne, the architects of that schedule, also were let go. However, their replacement, Steve McPherson, has been in his new job less than a month, and was stuck picking from pilots they had ordered. More change is likely during the season as he tries to put his own mark on the network.

As previously announced, James Spader will return in The Practice: Fleet Street, a spinoff of David E. Kelley's legal series. Also back are William Shatner, Lake Bell and Rhona Mitra.

The reality show The Benefactor, in which colorful mega-millionaire Mark Cuban will give away $1 million to one of 16 candidates deemed most deserving, is one of two new reality series. The other is the provocatively titled Wife Swap, an American adaptation of a British hit, in which a couple of wives and mothers go to live with another family for 10 days.

The following are capsule descriptions of ABC's other new series, from material provided by the network.

Desperate Housewives: A despondent woman (Sheryl Lee) commits suicide, then offers commentary from the beyond on her family and acquaintances. The drama also stars Teri Hatcher and Felicity Huffman.

Life As We Know It: A teen coming-of-age drama with a large ensemble, including Kelly Osbourne, Sean Faris of MTV's Undressed, Lisa Darr and D.B. Sweeney.

Lost: Survivor with a script. A plane crashes on a deserted island and those who make it out of the wreck have to create a new society. Matthew Fox of Party of Five and Dominic Monaghan of The Lord of the Rings are the most recognizable names.

Rodney: The home life of a standup comedian -- no, not Rodney Dangerfield, but Rodney Carrington.

Savages: A single father (Keith Carradine) rides herd over a brood of out-of-control sons.

The midseason series include the medical drama Grey's Anatomy and two crime dramas with coincidentally unfortunate titles. Blind Justice, from NYPD Blue's Steven Bochco, is built around a detective who loses his sight in the line of duty but continues to crack cases. Eyes is about a team of private investigators. A title change by at least one is almost as certain as another season of flux at ABC.

Tom Jicha can be reached at tjicha@sun-sentinel.com.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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