Fox bets on sitcom vets for fall TV ratings

Mike Duffy
Detroit Free Press (MCT)

Fox is still looking for a cure to its split-personality TV season blues.

The king of spring is annually appalling in the fall.

But waiting around till midseason for the mammoth infusion of "American Idol" ratings can't hide the failings of fall. Brad Garrett's so-so sitcom "'Til Death" is the lone holdover from last year's freshman class to make it onto Fox's new fall schedule, announced Thursday in New York.

And the high-profile hope for reversing that trend this autumn is "Back to You," a sitcom about a local TV news anchor team, starring big-name Emmy Award winners Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton.

"Back to You," which leads off Fox's Wednesday night lineup, is joined by two new fall dramas and a trio of reality TV rookies, including "The Search for the Next Great American Band," a musical competition talent search from the "American Idol" production team.

Meanwhile, "K-Ville" puts a topical spin on crime drama when Anthony Anderson ("The Shield") stars in the tale of a rugged New Orleans police detective battling crime in an embattled, rebuilding city after Hurricane Katrina.

As usual, with the baseball playoffs filling Fox's prime-time schedule in October, the network will launch many of its new and returning shows in late August and early September before the sports-forced hiatus.

Other Fox new-season highlights:

Along with the yearly wintertime return of "24" and "Idol," Fox has three midseason newcomers set for January premieres, including "Canterbury Law," a courtroom drama starring Julianna Margulies ("ER") as a maverick criminal defense attorney. The other January rookies: "The Return of Jezebel James," a sibling sitcom starring indie film queen Parker Posey and Lauren Ambrose of "Six Feet Under," and "The Sarah Connor Chronicles," featuring Lena Headey ("300") in an action drama based on the "Terminator" film character.

"The Rules for Starting Over" is another midseason comedy hopeful being held until spring 2008. Produced by the Farrelly Brothers ("There's Something About Mary") and starring Craig Bierko ("Boston Legal") and Rashida Jones ("The Office"), "Starting Over" follows a group of newly divorced friends as they get back into the swing of single life.

"The War at Home," a family sitcom starring Michael Rappaport and Anita Barone, was given a cancellation pink slip after two seasons. Also, arrested-development spring season sitcom "The Winner" is a cancellation loser. Oh darn.

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