It's a touchdown for NBC's Friday Night Lights!
The Texas drama - it's about much more than football - has been renewed for a full second season. No word yet on what night NBC will air a show that has struggled in the ratings (against stiff-armed competition) but quickly became one of the season's biggest critical darlings. Credit goes to NBC's president of entertainment, Kevin Reilly, a big fan of the show, for showing patience and letting the fans spend more time with coach Eric Taylor (Kyle Chandler) and the Dillon Panthers.
The announcement comes as the television industry prepares to converge on Manhattan this week for the upfronts - when execs try to woo advertisers for front-end funding for the new TV season.
Here are some of the highlights so far: NBC is the first to unveil its new schedule today. As expected, NBC ordered 13 episodes of one of Josh Schwartz's (The OC) new projects, Chuck, starring Zachary Levi (Less Than Perfect) as the geeky guy who becomes "the government's most powerful weapon."
It also has ordered 13 episodes of the remake of The Bionic Woman, starring Michelle Ryan as Jamie Sommers in a contemporary coming-of-age story. We meet Jamie as a bartender and surrogate mother to her teenage sister before the devastating car accident that forever changes her life.
Also on NBC, another Candace Bushnell small-screen adaptation is coming to a tube near you. The network has picked up Lipstick Jungle, starring Brooke Shields, Kim Raver (24) and Lindsay Price (Coupling) in another Sex and the City-kind of tale.
Another drama being added to the slate: Life, about a cop who was imprisoned for a crime he didn't commit and his efforts to rejoin the police force. It is directed by David Semel, who directed the Heroes pilot. Damian Lewis will star.
Over at Fox, at least one sitcom looks great on paper. Fox wasted no time in hiring TV mega-stars Kelsey Grammer (Frasier) and Patricia Heaton (Everybody Loves Raymond) to star in a new multi-camera sitcom, Back to You. Fox's president of primetime, Peter Liguori, was so excited by the script - and the lead acting team - that he committed to 13 episodes before one second of the pilot episode was filmed.
Grammer plays a womanizing news anchor (Chuck Darling) and Heaton his uptight co-anchor, Kelly Carr. After an embarrassing Internet tirade topples Chuck from a lofty perch, he's forced back to the Pittsburgh station where he first crossed paths with Kelly. Announced two months ago, it was the first new series pickup of the fall TV season.
Maria Elena Fernandez writes for the Los Angeles Times.
Sun television critic David Zurawik writes on measuring TV audiences for the upfronts (See Page 1A) and the return of Law & Order (See Page 4A).