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Fox builds on hits

What's new

Nine new series: two comedies and seven dramas

Comedies: Don't Ask. Think Odd Couple but gay. John Goodman and Anthony LaPaglia. From the producers of 3rd Rock From the Sun.

Schimmel. Comic Robert Schimmel plays a loving dad who, FOX says, is "just trying to get through life without talking to his neighbors."

Dramas: Boston Public. Now David E. Kelley explores schools, with a comic edge to this one.

Dark Angel. Sci-fi from Titanic's James Cameron about a genetically enhanced human prototype who goes underground.

Fearsum. Sci-fi about a Webmaster who runs an underground Web site devoted to debunking paranormal mysteries, until something odd happens one day. From Gregg Hale (The Blair Witch Project) among others.

The Lone Gunmen. X-Files spin-off of the computer-hacking conspiracy freaks, from Chris Carter.

Night Visions. Sorta like The Twilight Zone, FOX says.

The $treet. Wall Street yuppies from Sex and the City creator Darren Star.

The Michael Crichton project. This untitled drama from ER's creator is penciled to debut on Thursdays, but that is tentative.

The strategy

Jon Nesvig, FOX sales president, acknowledged it was a "very trying year." Indeed. FOX now wants to complement recent hits like Titus and Malcolm in the Middle. with new shows that will help give the network some cruising speed. It's revamping Tuesday through Friday and is trying to fix Mondays. Thursdays will be movie night in the fourth quarter, with two new dramas launching next January. But FOX is losing some chestnuts: Beverly Hills, 90201 and Party of Five may have stayed around too long, but, when they were hot, they gave the network constant buzz.

There are no new reality shows, as promised. Programming chief Sandy Grushow made good on his pledge to eliminate them from the schedule after the Who Wants to Marry a Multimillionaire? special blew up in his face.

In a way, Grushow already survived his first test. He gets X-Files and David Duchovny back, although the actor is committed only to 11 episodes and will get something like $20 million for his trouble. Nonetheless, trying to get that deal done, Grushow says, "I was living on Pepto Bismol shots and Alka Seltzer chasers."

What they're saying

Kelley hasn't shot a scrap of film for Boston Public yet, but media watchers are still anticipating a quality show.

"They have some problems," says TN Media's Steve Sternberg. "But every year, FOX gets written off, and then they come up with something that works. ''Partly, that's because FOX has less time to schedule than the other major networks. With new shows kicking off four nights next season, Sternberg says, "We'll just have to wait and see."


Beverly Hills 90201, Party of Five, Time of Your Life, Ally, Get Real, World's Wildest Police Videos, Family Guy, Action, Badland, Harsh Realm

Season to date

Total households: 5.9 rating/10 share

(-16%), third place.

Adults 18 to 49: 4.2/12 (-16%).