Pickups and Cancellations Abound in Advance of Upfronts

It’s upfront week again, that wonderful time of year when networks present their fall schedules to advertisers and reporters in the hopes of generating lots of hype and, in turn, beaucoup de advertising bucks (well, except for NBC, which already did theirs weeks ago). More importantly, it’s the time when we finally learn the fate of all those bubble shows, and what exciting new TV we can look forward to in the coming fall/winter season. At least it’d better be exciting, since the networks have managed to hemorrhage six million viewers since last year’s May sweeps.

The actual presentations don’t start until tomorrow, but the networks have been getting ready for upfront week by doing some housecleaning–ordering pilots to series, renewing and/or canceling old shows, and casting for new ones. Here’s a roundup of the weekend’s scuttlebutt.

Over at the CW, the highly anticipated (by some, anyway) 90210 spinoff has been picked up, and old school cast member Jennie Garth has signed on to reprise her role as Kelly Taylor, now a guidance counselor at good old West Beverly Hills High School. Gabe Sachs and Jeff Judah, who rewrote the pilot script after Rob Thomas exited the project, will stick around as showrunners. In addition, the network is reportedly close to picking up a new comedy based on Zoey Dean’s book How to Teach Filthy Rich Girls, which should mesh nicely with Gossip Girl.

As for existing shows, I’m sad to say that the critically acclaimed but little-watched Aliens in America is officially cancelled. We told you guys to watch it, but did you listen? No, you did not. But don’t worry, I’m sure there’ll be plenty more Pussycat Dolls Present: Girlicious in your future to make up for it. Hey, don’t complain to me, ya’ll brought this on yourselves.

In other CW news, Girlfriends spinoff The Game will be back with 22 more episodes. There’s no official word yet on Reaper, but TV Guide‘s Michael Ausiello is saying there’s a good chance it’ll be back. The CW will unveil its full lineup on Tuesday evening.

ABC’s negotiations with David E. Kelley over the Life on Mars remake seem to be close to a resolution, and unfortunately for all of us that resolution doesn’t involve the complete abandonment of the project. Kelley, who owns the rights to the American version of the acclaimed BBC series, is expected to exit the project in exchange for an agreement to bring Boston Legal back in the fall. October Road exec producers Josh Appelbaum, Andre Nemec and Scott Rosenberg are reportedly in line to take over as showrunners for the new Life on Mars.

ABC has given a 13-episode order to animated comedy The Goode Family, from Mike Judge, John Altschuler and Dave Krinsky. Mum’s still the word on Scrubs, but it’s expected to have a place on the network’s fall schedule, which will be officially announced Tuesday afternoon.

Fox was especially busy this weekend, dishing out series orders for J.J. Abrams’ new sci-fi drama Fringe, the Jason Bateman-directed comedy The Inn (from Arrested Development scribe Abraham Higginbotham), and (speaking of Arrested Development) Mitchell Hurwitz’s animated comedy Class Dismissed (based on the Australian series Sit Down, Shut Up). Fringe is rumored for a fall premiere while Joss Whedon’s highly anticipated Dollhouse probably won’t be ready until midseason. The network also announced some unsurprising cancellations, including Back to You, New Amsterdam and Canterbury’s Law. Fox’s upfront presentation will take place Thursday afternoon.

CBS, on the other hand, has been playing its cards close to the vest this weekend. But rumor has it the network is looking to create a new comedy block on Tuesdays or Wednesdays in the fall. Some series pickup announcements are expected to come later today, including the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced Eleventh Hour and The Mentalist, from writer Bruno Heller. Other likely contenders are the Diane Ruggiero-penned Mythological Ex and murder mystery Harper’s Island. CBS will announce its full schedule on Wednesday afternoon.


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