Upfront: ABC Shakes Things Up

NEW YORK ABC will take an aggressive stance next fall, with eight new prime-time series, a totally revamped Wednesday and changes on four nights of the week (excluding Monday, Saturday and Sunday). 

The new fall show tally is four comedies (all airing back-to-back in the Wednesday 8-10 p.m. block: Hank, The Middle, Modern Family and Cougar Town), three dramas (The Forgotten, Eastwick and Flash Forward) and non-scripted Shark Tank, a reality/competition from Survivor creator Mark Burnett.  
 
“We are headed into the season with a strong slate of returning series as well as great new shows from one of our best development seasons ever,” said ABC President Stephen McPherson. “Our focus is always on delivering the best stories with the most memorable characters on TV, and this year we have the best of both.  
 
Monday will remain intact, with a two-hour edition of Dancing With the Stars leading into sophomore returnee Castle.  But the live Dancing With the Stars Results Show on Tuesday will be surrounded by Shark Tank at 8 p.m. and The Forgotten at 10 p.m. 

In an unprecedented move, Wednesday is all new, with the two-hour comedy block leading into drama Eastwick, a continuation of the 1987 theatrical. Sci fi-driven Flash Forward will step into the Thursday 8 p.m. hour into Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice and in place of Ugly Betty, which moves to Friday at 9 p.m. (out of Supernanny and into 20/20).  Saturday Night Football will return in fourth quarter, while Sunday will remain intact care of returnees America’s Funniest Home Videos, Extreme Makeover Home Edition, Desperate Housewives and Brothers & Sisters.
 
Waiting in the wings is The Bachelor, which will step in for Dancing With the Stars on Monday after the season concludes; sitcoms Scrubs and Better Off Ted, which will air in the Tuesday 9 p.m. hour in place of the live results show; and non-scripted Wife Swap and True Beauty.  Lost will also return for its sixth, and final season.  New midseason ABC series will include dramas The Deep End, which is legal themed; mystery-driven Happy Town, and a remake of 1984-85 drama V.   
 
Not returning on ABC next season is sophomore sitcom Samantha Who?, recent entries Cupid, In the Motherhood, Surviving Suburbia, The Unusuals and Homeland Security, U.S.A., and the already canceled Dirty Sexy Money, Eli Stone and Pushing Daisies.  
 
 
Here is ABC’s fall 2009 schedule, with the new shows capped, followed by the new program descriptions.   
 
FALL 2009
 
Monday
 8:00 p.m. Dancing With the Stars (two hours)
10:00 p.m. Castle
 
Tuesday
 8:00 p.m. SHARK TANK
 9:00 p.m. Dancing With the Stars Results Show
10:00 p.m. THE FORGOTTEN
 
Wednesday
 8:00 p.m. HANK
 8:30 p.m. THE MIDDLE
 9:00 p.m. MODERN FAMILY
 9:30 p.m. COUGAR TOWN
10:00 p.m. EASTWICK
 
Thursday
 8:00 p.m. FLASH FORWARD
 9:00 p.m. Grey’s Anatomy
10:00 p.m. Private Practice
 
Friday
8:00 p.m. Supernanny
9:00 p.m. Ugly Betty (new day and time)
10:00 p.m. 20/20
 
Saturday
 8:00 p.m. Saturday Night Live College Football
 
 Sunday
 7:00 p.m. America’s Funniest Home Videos
 8:00 p.m. Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
 9:00 p.m. Desperate Housewives
10:00 p.m. Brothers & Sisters
 
 
New Program Descriptions
 
COMEDY

Cougar Town
A divorced 40 year-old woman with a teenage son finds her life getting complicated after she starts dating a man 14-years her junior.  Courteney Cox-Arquette stars.
 
Hank
Former Frasier and recent Back to You star Kelsey Grammer plays a fallen Wall Street executive who returns to his hometown with his wife and kids for a fresh start.  Macey Cruthird, David Koechner, Melinda McGraw and Ryan Wynott also star.  
 
The Middle
Former Everybody Loves Raymond and recent Back to You star Patricia Heaton plays the loving wife and mother of three who lives in Jasper, Indiana and is employed as a used car salesman.  The cast also includes Neil Flynn, Charlie McDermott, Atticus Shafer and Eden Sher.  
 
Modern Family
Three very different families (traditional with a working father, homemaker mom and two kids; gay who just adopted an Asian baby; and an older man married to a much younger woman) are the focus of this single camera comedy.  Julie Bowen (Ed), Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and former Married With Children patriarch Ed O’Neill star.
 
DRAMA
 
The Deep End (midseason)
A diverse group of young associates at a high profile Los Angeles entertainment law firm and the ambitious partners that dominate the firm is the focus of this new legal drama.  The cast includes Clancy Brown, Norbert Leo Butz, Ben Lawson, Matthew Long, Tina Majorino, Leah Pipes, Sherri Saum and former Titanic star Billy Zane.  
 
Eastwick
Based on the John Updike novel and the 1987 feature film, three single women who live in the New England town of Eastwick discover they have supernatural abilities after they meet a devilishly sexy man.  Lindsay Price (Lipstick Jungle), Sara Rue (Less Than Perfect), Rebecca Romijn (Pepper Dennis), Jon Bernthal and Paul Gross star.
 
Flash Forward
Based on the novel by Robert J. Sawyer, several wannabe physicians create an experiment where a group of people flash forward 20 years into the future for two minutes and 17 seconds and their lives are never the same again.  The physicians struggle to find out if the future is interchangeable or not and whether the experiment needs to be repeated.  Joseph Fiennes leads the ensemble cast.
 
The Forgotten
A group of amateur crime fights who refer to themselves as the “Identity Network” solve cases with unidentified victims.  Reiko Aylesworth, Rochelle Aytes, Michelle Borth, Anthony Carrigan, Rupert Perry-Jones, Grace Olivo and Bob Stephenson star.
 
Happy Town (Midseason)
After a new crime hits a small Minnesota town already rocked by a series of kidnappings seven years earlier, the updated investigation unearths some long-kept secrets.  The ensemble cast includes Amy Acker, John Patrick Amedori, Sarah Gadon, Lauren German, Sam Neill, Jay Paulson, Geoff Stults, Dean Winters and Robert Wisdom.
 
V (midseason)
An alien invasion is the focus of this remake of the former NBC mid 1980s miniseries and regularly scheduled series.  Morena Baccarin, Lourdes Benedicto, Morris Chestnut, Joel Gretsch, Logan Huffman, Elizabeth Mitchell (Lost) and Scott Wolf (Party of Five) star.  This could mean, of course, that Elizabeth Mitchell as Juliet is officially dead on Lost!
 
NON-SCRIPTED
 
Shark Tank
Budding entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to a panel of venture capitalists in this new reality/competition from Survivor/The Apprentice creator Mark Burnett.