`Nash' trashed, Ellen returns

Schedule: Riding high on `Survivor' success, CBS may also unveil another reality series as part of its lineup

Fall preview

May 16, 2001|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,SUN TELEVISION CRITIC

New series featuring Ellen DeGeneres and Richard Dreyfuss are expected to headline CBS' announcement of its fall schedule today in New York.

Overall, the network will add five new dramas and two sitcoms to its lineup - several still targeted at the older baby boomer demographic CBS has stuck with in recent years. But the two series expected to be officially canceled - "Diagnosis Murder" and "Nash Bridges" - draw some of the oldest audiences anywhere on television.

The network, which suddenly found a way to attract young viewers last year with "Survivor," which primarily appeals to audiences in their 20s and 30s, might also add another reality program to its fall schedule with "The Amazing Race" from producer Jerry Bruckheimer.

Though specifics about the show are sketchy, the reality series had been expected to air this summer as "Survivor" did last year, but it now looks as if it might get a regular fall spot, according to sources at networks, production companies, Hollywood studios and reports in the Hollywood Reporter and Variety. The networks routinely decline to confirm their schedules before presenting them to advertisers in New York.

Here are highlights of CBS' apparent fall lineup:

"Ellen, Again" will star DeGeneres in what, in recent years, has been a popular prime-time narrative - a young woman returns to her hometown after searching for professional success in the big city.

That's the theme of such series as "Providence" and "Judging Amy." NBC introduced a male version last year with "Ed." But while those were all dramas, DeGeneres, a highly successful stand-up comic, will try it in the sitcom format.

The other CBS sitcom will feature Daniel Stern as a newly divorced dad who works at a community center. The center - perhaps a replacement for family or office - is becoming an increasingly popular place to set series, according to several writers and producers in Hollywood. Some read it as a suggestion that viewers are seeing the workplace less as a source for community, and more as just a place to earn a living.

CBS has big names in its dramas, too. Dreyfuss plays a professor in midlife crisis in "The Education of Max Bickford." Another new drama, "Citizen Baines," about a senator who returns to Seattle after losing a run for re-election, is produced by John Wells, of "ER" and "The West Wing." Again, the premise features a leading character returning to his roots.

The other dramas are: "The Guardian," about an attorney who specializes in children's rights; "The Agency," a drama set within the CIA; and "Wolf Lake," a drama set in the Pacific Northwest that deals with the investigation of mysterious activities among wolves.

Yes, wolves. "The X-Files" and "Twin Peaks" are the series most often invoked by Hollywood insiders trying to explain the series. "Wolf Lake" definitely looks like a drama targeted toward younger viewers.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.