Existing shows purged from NBC's lineup include the sitcoms "Jesse" and "Stark Raving Mad"--which began the year as key components of the Thursday schedule--as well as "Suddenly Susan," "Veronica's Closet" and the Saturday-night trio of "The Pretender," "Profiler" and "The Others."
NBC will instead run a Saturday-night movie through the first half of the TV season, giving way early next year to games of the new XFL--a pro football league masterminded by the World Wrestling Federation.
Although "D.A.G." is the only new series with a minority actor in a leading role, several of the shows feature minority actors in prominent supporting roles. All the networks will be monitored closely this year to see how well they fulfill pledges to offer greater ethnic diversity after criticism by the NAACP and other organizations for the lack of it in last fall's new programs.
Two current comedies on major networks with predominantly African American casts, meanwhile, will reportedly follow the familiar route to one of the emerging networks. Fox's "The PJs," a clay-animated series produced by Eddie Murphy, is headed to the WB network, while "The Hughleys"--dropped by ABC--is in talks to find a home at UPN.
According to sources, ABC's casualties also will include "Sports Night," the critically acclaimed 2-year-old comedy, which has struggled to find an audience; however, that series too could live on elsewhere, with reports that pay channel Home Box Office is considering picking up the show.
Olympic Games to Delay Many Season Premieres
This week's scheduling announcements set in motion what's known as the upfront market, an annual ritual in which the networks sell advertising for the coming TV season. Due to the Olympic Games, which will be televised by NBC in late September, the lion's share of new shows won't officially begin playing until October.
At stake is as much as $8 billion worth of ad time on the six broadcast networks, with ABC almost certain to garner the largest portion of that sum thanks to "Millionaire," which is expected to add a fourth and possibly even a fifth edition per week.
Here is NBC's fall lineup (new shows are in italics):
Sunday: "Dateline NBC," "Ed," Movie.
Monday: "Daddio," "3rd Rock From the Sun," "Deadline," "Third Watch."
Tuesday: "Michael Richards Project," "Tucker," "Frasier," "D.A.G.," "Dateline NBC."
Wednesday: "Titans," "The West Wing," "Law & Order."
Thursday: "Friends," "The Steven Weber Show," "Will & Grace," "Just Shoot Me," "ER."
Friday: "Providence," "Dateline NBC," "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit."