Fox to debut new series across calendar

AP Television Writer

Fox is launching its new series in June, August, November and January this year -- nearly every month but the traditional September start of the television season.

The critically-acclaimed but ratings-challenged comedy "Arrested Development" has been renewed, and Fox will shift two of its most popular dramas: "The O.C." will move to Thursday nights in November, and "24" will shift to Monday in January, the network announced Thursday.

Fox has been the most aggressive network in advocating for a year-round scheduling strategy, with new series launching all the time instead of just in September.

That's partly out of belief that viewers' habits and expectations have changed, and partly because Fox's prime-time schedule is pre-empted for baseball in October. In the past few years, that's gotten new Fox series off to disastrous starts in the fall.

Fox took the odd step Thursday of releasing not one, but three separate future schedules: one for June to October, another for November to January 2005 and another for January to June. It risks confusion for advertisers who are being asked to buy commercial time.

The network previously announced it was debuting five new series next month, the same time its rivals essentially shut down for reruns. They include "Method and Red," a comedy starring rappers Method Man and Redman, and the Mark Burnett-produced reality series, "Casino."

The second visit to Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie's odd world, "The Simple Life 2: Road Trip," also will premiere in June.

In November, Fox will premiere "House," described as a medical mystery series.

Three new reality series also will premiere in November, all of them familiar to fans of the genre. Burnett, who is producing a boxing reality series for NBC, has grumbled about Fox nicking his idea with "The Next Great Champ," which has Oscar De La Hoya trying to spy boxing talent.

With "The Billionaire: Branson's Quest for the Best," Virgin founder Richard Branson joins Donald Trump and Mark Cuban as rich guys looking to give away money on TV. "The Partner" also takes a page from "The Apprentice," matching a team of Ivy Leaguers" against "street smart" lawyers looking for a job in a major firm.

Fox will premiere three new dramas and three new comedies in January, including a sketch comedy show starring "Frasier" star Kelsey Grammer.

"Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane will also produce a new cartoon, "American Dad." Next summer, he'll start making new episodes of "Family Guy," a cartoon Fox canceled then was stunned to see it become enormously popular as a DVD.

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