(May 14, 2002 - New York, NY) — The WB Network unveiled its 2002-2003 primetime schedule this morning in front of 3,000 advertisers and national journalists in a presentation led by Jordan Levin, President, Entertainment and Jed Petrick, President and Chief Operating Officer for The WB. The highlights of the fall schedule include a new live action-adventure DC Comics franchise in “BIRDS OF PREY”; new drama “EVERWOOD,” starring Treat Williams, paired with the venerable “7th HEAVEN”; the return of the formidable team of “GILMORE GIRLS” and “SMALLVILLE” on Tuesday nights; and four new and four returning comedies airing on Thursday and Friday nights, including Amanda Bynes and Jennie Garth starring as sisters in “WHAT I LIKE ABOUT YOU” and a new take on the classic “FAMILY AFFAIR,” starring Tim Curry as Mr. French. “FAMILY AFFAIR” is the third WB series to be backed by the Family Friendly Forum in as many years. “The top priority for us has always been to pursue great writers,” said Mr. Levin. “Smart scripts and good material have always driven our success and a remarkable number of potential hits came out of this development season. We had many unique programs to consider when we sat down to put together our schedule and the result is a diverse line-up with many shows that will appeal to our 12-34 target audience. “Our network is driven by scripted programming, and this was our best development season ever. We have four strong new family comedies, which give us the flexibility to open up Thursday for half-hours, and two great dramas, which add an exciting action franchise, and an emotional family drama to our line-up. “Any development team’s goal is to make hit series. We think our new crop of shows has the potential for several breakout hits. Specifically, we needed to bring ratings growth and stability to Sundays and we expect to accomplish that with three established shows. “Thursday has a long tradition of attracting family viewers. With ‘Family Affair’ and ‘Do Over,’ we intend to recapture that broad-based audience and we will be patient in building the night. We set a goal last year to establish a comedy hit and we accomplished it in ‘Reba.’ Now it’s our goal to make the entire Friday night schedule work just as well, and in ‘What I Like About You’ with Amanda Bynes and Jennie Garth, we have built-in appeal to both ends of the 12-34 female demo in a show we think can mean as much to us as ‘Sabrina, the Teenage Witch’ meant to ABC when it debuted. “With the Hispanic family comedy ‘Greetings From Tucson,’ our highest-testing comedy this year, we have a chance at a breakout hit to complement ‘Reba.’ We also want to keep Wednesday nights exciting, which we’ve done with ‘Birds of Prey.’ Paired with ‘Dawson’s Creek,’ we will make a significant statement Wednesday nights, where we have consistently been #1 or #2 in women 18-34. “On Mondays, our search for the perfect ‘7th Heaven’ companion has led us to the truly wonderful and compelling family drama, ‘Everwood.’ With Treat Williams in a role he was born to play, we expect critics and viewers alike to embrace the series.” FAMILY DRAMA “EVERWOOD” STARRING TREAT WILLIAMS BEST BET TO RETAIN “7th HEAVEN” VIEWERS On Mondays at 8:00 p.m., the critically acclaimed “7TH HEAVEN” has been appointment television for families for seven years and the network’s highest-rated series for the past four seasons. This fall, the Camdens will get a new Monday-night neighbor when the powerful drama “EVERWOOD,” from executive producers Greg Berlanti (“Dawson’s Creek”) and Mickey Liddell (“Go”), premieres in the 9:00 p.m. hour. Treat Williams (“Prince of the City,” “The Late Shift”) stars in the compelling story of a world-famous surgeon who moves his two children to a small Colorado town in order to reconnect with his kids before it’s too late. “Over the last few seasons, we’ve tried a few different approaches with lead-outs for ‘7th Heaven,’” said Mr. Levin. “In ‘Everwood,’ we feel strongly that we have the perfect high-quality companion piece. This beautifully written drama continues the family-first viewpoint of ’7th Heaven,’ but offers a different sensibility from the perspective of a man who is reinventing his life and rebuilding his family.” THE WINNING COMBINATION OF “GILMORE GIRLS” AND “SMALLVILLE” STAYS PUT ON TUESDAY The success story of the 2001-2002 season has been the powerhouse team of “GILMORE GIRLS” and “SMALLVILLE” on The WB’s Tuesday night. Both series are critical favorites and both continually set new ratings records, including their most recent airings. “GILMORE GIRLS” is the third highest-rated series on any network this season among female teens and is The WB’s second highest-rated show in females 12-34 and women 18-49. “SMALLVILLE” is the WB’s top-rated show this season in persons 12-34, adults 18-34 and adults 18-49 and is the network’s most demographically balanced program. “'Gilmore Girls’ is the fastest-growing show on television and its broad appeal has proven to be the perfect lead-in for ‘Smallville,’” said Mr. Levin. “Despite the tough competition on this night, we were able to grow a family-friendly series, while launching a phenomenal breakout hit. We certainly took a risk letting ‘Buffy’ go, and our Tuesday success tells us we made the right decision.” “BIRDS OF PREY” BRINGS NEW GOTHAM’S TRIO OF SUPERHEROINES TO THE SMALL SCREEN Wednesday nights will be reinvigorated with the addition of sizzling new drama “BIRDS OF PREY” at 9:00 p.m. following returning drama “DAWSON’S CREEK.” Based on classic DC Comics characters, “BIRDS” is a titillating action-adventure franchise about three crime-fighting superheroines — played by Dina Meyer (“Beverly Hills, 90210”), Ashley Scott (“Dark Angel”) and Rachel Skarsten (“Virginia’s Run”) — set in New Gotham. “The ‘Birds of Prey’ pilot delivers a powerful cinematic feel, with big-screen effects, non-stop action and real breakout potential for the three female stars,” said Mr. Levin. “We enjoyed tremendous success this year with ‘Smallville,’ another DC Comics franchise from Tollin/Robbins, and see similarly great potential from this romp about Batgirl and her two sexy protégés.” ALL COMEDY ALL THE TIME ON THURSDAY AND FRIDAY The WB programming department scored some big wins last season in comedy. “REBA” on Friday nights was a hit with audiences and grew to be The WB’s top-rated comedy. Sunday night freshmen comedies “JKX: THE JAMIE KENNEDY EXPERIMENT” and “OFF CENTRE” struck a chord with males and are currently The WB’s two highest-rated comedies among men 18-34. This season, The WB will continue its strategy of family comedies on Friday nights, giving the network a powerful line-up of shows on Friday catering to young families. “SABRINA,” “THE TEENAGE WITCH” and “REBA” return following the new 8:00 p.m. series “WHAT I LIKE ABOUT YOU,” starring Amanda Bynes (“The Amanda Show,” “Big Fat Liar”) and Jennie Garth (“Beverly Hills, 90210”) and written by Wil Calhoun (“Friends”) and Dan Schneider (“The Amanda Show”). Following “REBA” is “GREETINGS FROM TUCSON” at 9:30 p.m., an autobiographical comedy about a Mexican-American family from executive producers Rob LaZebnik (“The Simpsons”), Peter Murrieta (Second City), Howard Klein (“King of the Hill”) and David Miner. “In comedy, it just takes one breakout hit to build from and with ‘Reba’ in place, we have a great opportunity to establish two new comedies next fall,” said Mr. Levin. “Amanda Bynes is the biggest star to come out of Nickelodeon since Melissa Joan Hart, and we expect great things from this show, especially since we were lucky enough to add Jennie Garth to the mix. In ‘Greetings From Tucson,’ the storylines and multi-ethnic characters make it an extremely unique piece—I don’t think there’s anything else like it on television.” Thursday brings a major shift in scheduling with an all-comedy line-up debuting this fall. A modern update of the television classic, “FAMILY AFFAIR” opens the night at 8:00 p.m. starring Tim Curry (“Charlie’s Angels”) and Gary Cole (“The Brady Bunch” movies, “Office Space”) as the inimitable Mr. French and Uncle Bill, respectively. The heartwarming family comedy is from executive producers Bob Young (“Smart Guy,” “Boy Meets World”), Gavin Polone (“Gilmore Girls,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Panic Room”), Sid & Marty Krofft (“H.R. Pufnstuf,” “Land of the Lost”) and Randy Pope. At 8:30 p.m., “DO OVER” is an offbeat offering about an unmarried, dissatisfied 34-year-old salesman who finds himself back in 1981 at the age of 14, with the chance to make things turn out differently, both for him and his embarrassingly dysfunctional family. The new entries are followed by returning freshmen comedies “JKX: THE JAMIE KENNEDY EXPERIMENT” and “OFF CENTRE,” which amassed a loyal following this season on Sunday nights. “Turning around Thursday night was one of our key development goals this year,” said Mr. Levin. “We believe that leading the night with ‘Family Affair,’ sure to be one of the most talked-about comedies anywhere this fall, and ‘Do Over,’ followed by the edgy irreverence of Jamie Kennedy and ‘Off Centre’ will enable us to plant a comedy flag on Thursday.” SUNDAY NIGHT IS “CHARMED” BY AN “ANGEL” AND KICKS OFF A NEW “BEGINNINGS” FRANCHISE Following on the success of “7TH HEAVEN: BEGINNINGS,” The WB will air the entire first season of “GILMORE GIRLS” on Sundays at 7:00 p.m. under the title “GILMORE GIRLS: BEGINNINGS.” Designed to bring new viewers to this multi-generational hit series, the Sunday evening multi-play continues what has become a strategic concept for the time period. In future seasons, The WB plans to enlist additional series to tap into new audiences through the “BEGINNINGS” franchise. The evening takes a supernatural turn with two proven series, “CHARMED” at 8:00 p.m. followed by “ANGEL” at 9:00 p.m. The “CHARMED” trio of beautiful and sexy witches played by Rose McGowan, Holly Marie Combs and Alyssa Milano returns for its fifth season. “ANGEL’s” themes of love, loyalty and betrayal have proven that the series can stand on its own as a multi-layered drama embraced by critics and audiences alike. Star David Boreanaz returns for a fourth season as the vampire with a soul. BACK-UP SERIES In addition to the four new comedies on the schedule for fall, The WB ordered one comedy for midseason: “THE O’KEEFE’S.” Starring Judge Reinhold (“Beverly Hills Cop”), “THE O’KEEFE’S” is a whimsical family comedy about loving but eccentric parents who’ve home schooled their three children to protect them and now must bite their nails when their two teenagers head off to...public school.
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