Ten rookie shows make cut for ABC


ABC has ordered 10 new series — six dramas and four comedies — keeping several more pilots for midseason consideration.

Meanwhile, NBC and Warner Bros. TV on Sunday afternoon closed a deal to bring back the spunky sophomore dramedy "Chuck."

The 13-episode order for the modestly rated series is said to come with a lower license fee attached, a recurring theme this upfront season.

Also during the weekend, CBS renewed bubble drama series "Cold Case," with a return of "Rules of Engagement" pending.

As of Sunday, the prospects for another crime drama from WBTV and Jerry Bruckheimer, "Without a Trace," didn't look good, though the series was in consideration for a midseason order.

CBS also is mulling taking in the drama "Medium" if NBC and CBS Studios don't come to a deal.

On the new-show front, CBS gave several drama pilots permission to start making offers to writers and directors — a precursor to series pickups. The pilots include WBTV's "Miami Trauma" and CBS TV Studios' "NCIS" spinoff, "Three Rivers" and "The Good Wife," with "U.S. Attorney" rumored to join them.

ABC's drama slate includes two new crime dramas: the Bruckheimer-produced amateur-sleuths show "The Forgotten" and murder mystery "Happy Town," from the creative team behind "October Road"; the legal drama "The Deep End;" as well as two 1980s adaptations, "Eastwick," based in the movie and "V," based on the NBC miniseries.

In preparation for the upcoming exit of "Lost," ABC is betting heavily on action drama "Flash Forward" as its successor.

ABC's drama picks feature a first and an unbroken streak.

"Forgotten" marks the first scripted series on ABC by Bruckheimer, while the order for "Eastwick" extends the perfect record for director David Nutter, who has gone 15-for-15, with every pilot he has directed so far picked up to series.

On the half-hour side, ABC went for sitcom stars in family comedies,

Its new series picks include two family shows toplined by Emmy-winning veterans — the multicamera "Hank," starring Kelsey Grammer, and single-camera "The Middle," starring Patricia Heaton. They're joined by multifamily mocumentary "Modern Family" and the newly single mom comedy "Cougar Town" starring Courteney Cox.

That is contrast with the two comedies that ABC opted to bring back — veteran "Scrubs" and freshman "Better Off Ted," both workplace laughers.

"Scrubs" star Zach Braff is set to do six episodes to transition the show to its new set-up. It is still unclear if Sarah Chalke, who has been approached with a similar deal, will rejoin the series.

Donald Faison, John C. McGinley and Neil Flynn have all closed deals to continue as regulars in second position to their pilots. Flynn's pilot "Middle" was picked up, so he won't be able to be a regular on "Scrubs."

In addition to "Ted," the other freshman ABC series to clinch a renewal Friday was the Nathan Fillion-starring detective dramedy "Castle."

Also renewed was reality series "True Beauty," exec produced by Ashton Kutcher and Tyra Banks, while sophomore comedy "Samantha Who?" is still in consideration for a pickup on a smaller budget.

Months after he took over the combined network-studio unit, ABC's entertainment chief Stephen McPherson opted for a new series slate dominated by outside suppliers, who produce seven of the 10 picked up series (70%) — "Eastwick," "Forgotten," "V," "Middle" and "Hank" (WBTV) and "Modern Family" and "End" (20th TV). At the pilot stage, non-ABC Studios-produced projects' share was 44%.

ABC Studios' tally could rise, with several of its comedy pilots, the single-camera "The Law," toplined by Cedric the Entertainer, and multicamera untitled Jeff Strauss and "This Little Piggy" still considered a possibility for midseason.

ABC also has an outstanding 22-episode pickup deal for CBS' multicamera veteran "The New Adventures of Old Christine" should it fail to earn a renewal at CBS, something considered unlikely as the show and its Wednesday companion, freshman "Gary Unmarried," look good to return.