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Upfronts: ABC fall preview

In fall 2009, finales, television on 05/19/2009 at 5:03 pm

To live and die at ABC. The network is hard on new series and sophomore series. The 2008-09 RIP list is loaded with low-rated but passionately beloved series (most recent is Samantha Who? and who can forget Pushing Daisies, Eli Stone and Dirty Sexy Money, the latter three of which get their final runs soon: Pushing Daisies returns May 30, Eli Stone June 20 and Dirty Sexy Money July 18).

But there is a heaping helping of new shows filling the many voids. Here’s the rundown of ABC’s fall/midseason 2009 programming announcement, made yesterday at the Upfronts in NYC, that is, the annual event at which network execs trot out their new season for advertisers in the hope they’ve picked the right shows to pull in the most advertising dollars.

Six new dramas:

1. The Deep End: It’s young dog eat dog for a group of first year associates at Sterling Law. Stars Matt Long as Dylan Hewitt, Ben Lawson as Liam Priory, Tina Majorino as Addy Fisher, Norbert Leo Butz as Rowdy Kaiser, Leah Pipes as Beth Bancroft, Billy Zane as Cliff Huddle, Sherri Saum as Susan Oppenheim and Clancy Brown as Hart Sterling.

2. Eastwick: Our man Paul Gross gets another U.S. series, this time starring not as a mountie but as … the devil? … in this adaptation of John Updike’s novel (which was make into a movie starring Jack Nicholson), The Witches of Eastwick. Also stars Rebecca Romijn as Roxie Torcoletti, Lindsay Price as Joanna Frankel, Jamie Ray Newman as Kat Gardener, Sara Rue as Penny, Veronica Cartwright as Bun, Johann Urb as Will, Jon Bernthal as Raymond and Ashley Benson as Mia.

3. Flash Forward: Big money on this one (ABC hopes), based on Robert J. Sawyer’s novel, and from executive producers David S. Goyer (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight) and Brannon Braga (24). “When a mysterious event causes the entire world to black out, humanity is given a glimpse into its near future, and every man, woman and child is forced to come to grips with whether their destinies can be avoided or fulfilled.” Stars Joseph Fiennes as Mark Benford, John Cho as Demetri Noh, Jack Davenport as Lloyd Simcoe, Sonya Walger as Olivia Benford, Courtney B. Vance as Stan Wedeck, Brian O’Byrne as Aaron Stark, Christine Woods as Janis Hawk, Zachary Knighton as Bryce Varley and Peyton List as Nicole.

4. The Forgotten: From Jerry Bruckheimer, “After the police have given up, this group must first solve the puzzle of the victim’s identity in order to then help catch the killer. They work to give the deceased back their names.” Stars Rupert Penry-Jones as Alex, Reiko Aylesworth as Linda, Michelle Borth as Candace, Bob Stephenson as Walter, Anthony Carrigan as Tyler and Rochelle Aytes as Detective Grace Russell.

5. Happy Town: “Haplin, Minnesota is approaching almost a decade of peace after being riddled for years by unsolved kidnappings. But in the wake of this small town’s first crime in seven years, some dark truths are being revealed about some familiar faces.” Stars Geoff Stults as Tommy Conroy, Lauren German as Henley, Amy Acker as Rachel Conroy, Dean Winters as John Haplin, John Patrick Amedori as Andrew Haplin, Sarah Gadon as Georgia Bravin, Jay Paulson as Larry ‘Root Beer’ Rogers, Robert Wisdom as Roger Hobbes and Sam Neill as Merritt Grieves.

6. V: “A re-imagining of the 1980s miniseries about the world’s first encounter with an alien race in which the aliens call themselves The Visitors, and have a seemingly friendly agenda that may or may not be a cover for something more malevolent.” Stars Elizabeth Mitchell as Erica Evans, Morris Chestnut as Ryan Nichols, Joel Gretsch as Father Jack Landry, Lourdes Benedicto as Valerie Stevens, Logan Huffman as Tyler Evans, Laura Vandervoort as Lisa, with Morena Baccarin as Anna and Scott Wolf as Chad Decker.

Four new comedies:

1. Cougar Town: “Courteney Cox stars as a recently divorced single mother exploring the honest truths about dating and aging in our beauty and youth obsessed culture.”

2. Hank: “Kelsey Grammer stars in this timely comedy as Hank Pryor, a titan of industry who suddenly finds himself out of work, almost out of money and around a wife and kids for whom he’s never made much time. Despite his recent setbacks, … he knows he is destined to return to greatness. And he is – just not the greatness he imagines.”

3. The Middle: “The Hecks are a middle class family living in the middle of Indiana, just trying to keep their heads above water.” Stars Patricia Heaton as Frankie, Neil Flynn as Mike, Eden Sher as Sue, Atticus Shaffer as Brick and Charlie McDermott as Axel.

4. Modern Family: “Shot from the perspective of an unseen documentary filmmaker, this comedy takes a modern look at the complications that come with being a family in 2009.” Stars Ed O’Neill as Jay, Sofía Vergara as Gloria, Jesse Tyler Ferguson as Mitchell, Eric Stonestreet as Cameron, Ty Burrell as Phil, Julie Bowen as Claire, Sarah Hyland as Haley, Rico Rodriguez as Manny, Nolan Gould as Luke and Ariel Winter as Alex.

One new alternative series:

Shark Tank: From Mark Burnett (Survivor, The Apprentice), this gives “budding entrepreneurs the chance to make their dreams come true and become successful – and possibly wealthy – business people. But the entrepreneurs must first try to convince five tough, multi-millionaire tycoons to part with their own hard-earned cash and give them the funding they need to jumpstart their ideas.”

Returning:

Brothers & Sisters, Castle, Desperate Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy, Lost (final season), Private Practice, Ugly Betty, Better Off Ted, Scrubs, America’s Funniest Home Videos, The Bachelor, Dancing wit the Stars, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Supernanny, True Beauty, Wife Swap, 20/20.

Dead:

In the Motherhood, The Unusuals, Cupid, Life on Mars, Pushing Daisies, Samangho Who?, Dirty Sexy Money, Eli Stone, According to Jim, Surviving Suburbia (to be confirmed), Boston Legal, Opportunity Knocks, Homeland Security.

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