Fox keeps drive for teen girls alive

Schedule: Among new things for fall is an innovative re-mix of `Ally McBeal.'

May 20, 1999|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,SUN TELEVISION CRITIC

Fox is going to try to get younger this fall, and that means more competition with the WB network when it comes to winning teen girls.

That's the major thrust of the fall schedule Fox will announce today, but two of the new series that have piqued the most interest are a re-mixed half-hour version of "Ally McBeal" each week and a spinoff of "Party of Five" starring Jennifer Love Hewitt.

The "Ally" re-mix is executive producer David E. Kelley's brainchild, a way to get yet more air time, as if he doesn't have enough with "Ally," "The Practice," "Chicago Hope" and a new private eye drama for ABC next fall, "Snoops." The idea is that Tuesdays at 8 starting next fall will feature a half-hour version of the episode of "Ally" that aired Monday. The condensed version will concentrate on the characters and exclude courtroom scenes. Kelley promises extra footage not used for the Monday episode will be shot each week exclusively for the half-hour version of "Ally."

It is one of the more intriguing ideas of the new season. If nothing else, it will certainly amortize production costs and could serve as a model for a way to make extra money with hit dramas -- if it flies.

The "Party of Five" spinoff, "Time of Your Life," is expected to get the 8 p.m. Monday slot leading into "Ally," which makes it one of the more important freshman series from Fox.

Fox is expected to introduce eight new series -- five dramas, two sitcoms and the "Ally" re-mix. The youth-oriented series include: "Manchester Prep," described by the producers as "Dangerous Liaisons" for teens; "Get Real," a family drama told from a teen point of view; "Malcolm in the Middle," a sitcom about a 9-year-old genius in a dysfunctional family; and "Ryan Caulfield," a drama about a young cop.

Chris Carter, producer of "The X-Files," will have a new series titled "Harsh Realm," based on the comic books of the same name. It replaces his "Millennium," which has been canceled.

Eddie Murphy's controversial "The PJs," the animated series about life in a housing project, has reportedly received a full year's order of 22 episodes but will not be on the fall schedule announced tomorrow. It will return in January.

The biggest scheduling changes involve the animated series, "Family Guy" moving to 9 p.m. Thursdays to do battle with NBC's "Frasier," while "King of the Hill" goes back to Sundays along with Matt Groenig's "Futurama."

The struggling UPN is also expected to announce its schedule today, but the network has been careful about keeping its lineup under wraps. The big news, though, is expected to be a night of prime-time wrestling, possibly on Thursday.

In terms of local interest, a new series about police recruits in Manhattan, from Barry Levinson and Tom Fontana, is not expected to be on the fall schedule. UPN reportedly wanted the series, titled "The Beat," for fall, but the producers will not deliver the show until midseason.

Here is the Fox lineup as expected in today's announcement (new shows are bold-faced):

Sunday

Malcolm in the Middle 7

King of the Hill 7: 30

The Simpsons 8

Futurama 8: 30

The X-Files 9

Monday

Time of Your Life 8

Ally McBeal 9

Tuesday

Ally II 8

That '70s Show 8: 30

Party of Five 9

Wednesday

Beverly Hills, 90210 8

Get Real 9

Thursday

Manchester Prep 8

Family Guy 9

Action 9: 30

Friday

Ryan Caulfield 8

Harsh Realm 9

Saturday

Cops 8

America's Most Wanted 9

Here is the CBS schedule, as announced yesterday (new shows in bold face):

Sunday 60 Minutes 7

Touched by an Angel 8

Movie 9

Monday

King of Queens 8

Ladies Man 8: 30

Everybody Loves Raymond 9

Becker 9: 30

Family Law 10

Tuesday

Jag 8 60 Minutes II 9

Judging Amy 10

Wednesday

Cosby 8

Work With Me 8: 30

Movie 9

Thursday

Diagnosis Murder 8

Chicago Hope 9 48 Hours 10

Friday

Kids Say the Darndest Things 8

Love or Money 8: 30

Now and Again 9

Nash Bridges 10

Saturday

Early Edition 8

Martial Law 9

Walker, Texas Ranger 10

Pub Date: 5/20/99

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