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Fox Is Poised To Grab the Top Spot Next Fall

Fox caught the TV world off guard this year, when Joe Millionaire and American Idol turned a miserable fourth quarter into stellar first and second quarters, and took first place in adults 18-49 from January through May. It wasn't enough to win the season, but it was enough to put Fox on firm footing for next year.

Like every other network, Fox is vowing to steer clear of reality fixes for failing time periods, and Fox Entertainment President Gail Berman says she expects this schedule to give Fox a shot at its first season-to-date No. 1 title.

But Fox also hopes to get the most out of this year's reality successes, keeping American Idol or its derivative, American Juniors, on the schedule year-round and planning a second edition of Joe Millionaire for fall.

Fox Television Entertainment Group Chairman Sandy Grushow said this is the first time ever that Fox is launching a fall schedule with hits in place on almost every night of the week.

"Virtually every new show will be in a protected time period," Berman said.

New for Fall

3 dramas / 4 comedies

The O.C.
(drama, Thursday, 9)—Suburban soap opera in vein of old-school Fox hits Melrose Place
and Beverly Hills 90210. Executive-produced by Doug Liman, McG and Dave Bartis. From Wonderland, Hypnotic and Warner Bros. Television.

(drama, Monday, 9)—Modern-day Romeo-Juliet tale in which teen-age boy's father, the L.A. district attorney, investigates his girlfriend's porn-king father. Executive-produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, Jonathan Littman and writer Jim Leonard. From Jerry Bruckheimer Productions, Hoosier Karma Productions and Warner Bros. Television.

Tru Calling
(drama, Thursday, 8)—Morgue worker discovers a power to reverse time and solve murders. Jon Feldman writes and executive-produces. From 20th Century Fox Television and Original Television.

Arrested Development
(sitcom, Sunday, 9:30)—Single father is pulled into running the family business when his father is arrested for dodging taxes. Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, David Nevins and Mitch Hurtwiz executive-produce. From Imagine Television and 20th Century Fox Television.

(sitcom, Friday, 8:30)—Luis Guzman stars as small-business owner in Spanish Harlem. Will Gluck executive-produces. From 20th Century Fox Television.

A Minute With Stan Hooper
(sitcom, Wednesdays, 8:30)—TV slice-of-life columnist (Norm McDonald) moves to small town. Lori Jo Hoekstra executive-produces with writers Barry Kemp and Norm McDonald. From Paramount Television.

The Ortegas
(sitcom, Sundays, 9:30)—A mix of comedy, improv and talk show. Jimmy Mulville, Denise O'Donoghue, Gavin Polone, Wally Wolodarsky executive-produce. From Pariah and Hat Trick Productions.

For Midseason

(drama)—Inanimate objects begin talking to a young girl in a souvenir shop. Bryan Fuller and Todd Holland write and executive-produce. From 20th Century Fox and Regency.