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Turn Up the Heat

The ovation greeting Marc Cherry at ABC's upfront presentation could have been to acknowledge the executive producer of mega-hit Desperate Housewives. But the Madison Avenue crowd was, at that moment, more impressed with the multi-talented Cherry's Busby Berkeley-like song-and-dance number, as well as his top hat and tails (see page 33).

For ABC, the loud cheers stood in stark contrast to past presentations, when the network tried its best to divert attention from its prime time problems.

Not so this year. With laser-like focus, the presentation really was, as ABC Entertainment President Stephen McPherson said, “all about the shows.” He refused to get swept up by the hyperbole typical of upfront week, despite the barn-burning success ABC has enjoyed this past season with rookies Desperate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy and Lost. But McPherson has applied that same aggressive philosophy to next season's schedule: The newly energized network has something new almost every night this fall, and a bundle of midseason replacements. ABC looks hot again.

What's Next:

Emily's Reasons Why Not (comedy, Mondays at 9, midseason): Heather Graham's sitcom is stirring positive buzz and will counter male-leaning CBS powerhouse Two and a Half Men. From Sony Television, Pariah

What About Brian (drama, Mondays at 10, midseason): J.J. Abrams (Alias, Lost) will try to fend off CBS' CSI: Miami and NBC's Medium as part of the team producing this tale of a single guy coping with life and love. From Touchstone Television, Bad Robot

Commander-in-Chief (drama, Tuesdays at 9): Geena Davis is a wife, mom and leader of the free world. From Touchstone Television, Battle Plan Television

Freddie (comedy, Wednesdays, 8:30): Freddie Prinze Jr. plays a single guy living with a houseful of female relatives. A preview drew lukewarm response. From Warner Bros., Mohawk Productions and The Firm

Invasion (drama, Wednesdays at 10): Sci-fi thriller will do battle with NBC's mothership Law & Order and CBS's CSI: New York. From Warner Bros., Shaun Cassidy Productions

The Night Stalker (drama, Thursdays at 9): Revival of the dark '70s classic has a reporter battling fear—and the original CSI on CBS and Donald Trump's hair on NBC. From Touchstone Television

Hot Properties (comedy, Fridays, 9:30): Four very different female realtors cope with their own personal predicaments. Produced by Interbang, with Warner Bros. Television