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ABC Unveils 14 Early Series Pick-Ups

ABC Wednesday announced 14 early pick-ups for next season, including Men in Trees, a series whose fate had been up in the air.

But the list didn’t include the struggling but internally liked 10 p.m. Monday entry What About Brian, which failed to hold much of its gigantic lead-in this week from Dancing with the Stars, or either of its veteran but low-rated comedies What About Jim or George Lopez.

An ABC spokeswoman said not all decisions have been made yet but cautioned against reading “anything into that.” 

Among the other freshman getting an expected vote of confidence are the hits Brothers & Sisters and Ugly Betty.

Veterans returning for another season are The Bachelor (which performed competitively last fall among young women against NBC’s Heroes), Boston Legal, DWTS, Desperate Housewives, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Grey’s Anatomy, late night’s Jimmy Kimmel Live and Lost.

ABC Entertainment President Stephen McPherson made the announcement to advertisers in Los Angeles for pre-upfront network development meetings. Networks traditionally unveil their returning series at this point to emphasize momentum leading into the May schedule unveilings.

The network had previously extended pickups to reality entries America’s Funniest Home Videos, Supernanny and Wife Swap.

“We have had a strong year, with two of the season’s breakout hits, Ugly Betty and Brothers & Sisters, and the solid performance of Men in Trees,” McPherson said.

Airing recently at 10 p.m. Thursdays with a huge lead-in from Grey’s, McPherson favorite Men in Trees has trailed its network competition in adults 18-49 but shown strength with the 18-34 demo. The Anne Heche drama finishes second in the group to NBC veteran ER and, in its most recent original outing Feb. 15, achieved series-high ratings among adults 18-49 and with key women.

The Bachelor: Rome was a strong draw with younger viewers last fall, ranking second to NBC’s Heroes with younger adults and women, as well as teens. The franchise returns for another installment in coming weeks.