NEW YORK – ABC will revive its “TGIF” Friday night lineup this fall and hopes to similarly revive its fortunes by airing more comedies than any of its broadcast rivals.
The network, a dismal fourth in the ratings for most of the past few months, will introduce four new comedies and three new dramas in September.
Meanwhile, the WB network shuffled its schedule, bringing back “Angel,” casting actress Rachael Leigh Cook as an FBI agent and trying to broaden its own Friday comedies beyond a teenage audience.
ABC’s fall lineup will have 10 comedies, probably expanding to 12 in the following months, said Lloyd Braun, ABC entertainment chairman. NBC will have eight. CBS, which releases its schedule Wednesday, currently has six.
The new “TGIF” lineup will include the returning series “George Lopez” and “Life with Bonnie” and two new shows. It will be less teen-oriented than before ABC abandoned the idea in 2000, but will still appeal to families, Braun said.
ABC executives said they heard a constant refrain at public appearances, particularly at colleges: “Whatever happened to ‘TGIF?'”
“It was destination television,” said entertainment president Susan Lyne, “and when we realized how much affection there was for the brand and for the idea of good comedies on Friday night, it was a no-brainer.”
One of the Friday comedies will be “Hope & Faith,” starring Kelly Ripa (news) as a washed-up soap star going back to live with her sister, played by Faith Ford.
After ABC ditched “TGIF,” the WB ran with the idea of young Friday comedies — even adding the since-cancelled ABC show, “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.” Now the WB is moving “Reba” to 8 p.m. on Fridays.
“We definitely wanted to make a statement that we’re going broader on Friday nights,” said Jordan Levin, the WB’s entertainment president. The WB is adding two new comedies and picking up “Grounded For Life” from Fox.
ABC is also keeping “The Practice” on the air, and moving it to Sunday. In something of a surprise, “Dragnet” also returns, but will be renamed “L.A. Dragnet” and introduce several new characters.
ABC News gets a third newsmagazine, “Primetime Monday,” to air before football. The network also said John Stossel will become Barbara Walters’ co-host on “20/20,” replacing John Miller, who left the network.
“The Wonderful World of Disney” will move from Sunday to Saturday. ABC will air more adult movies on Mondays after football ends.
“The Bachelor” returns for a fourth attempt at matchmaking. ABC will broadcast the two-hour wedding of former bachelorette Trista Rehn and beau Ryan Sutter as a special in the fall, with a two-hour preamble.
“Extreme Makeover” will be back, as ABC tries reality series in the tough Thursday 9 p.m. time slot. Lyne made viewers one promise, though.
“You will not be seeing ‘Are You Hot,’ she said.
The WB bids goodbye to “Dawson’s Creek,” the signature series that made the network popular to teenage girls and young women. They’ll offer something new for the ladies in the fall: the brooding, long-haired actor Travis Fimmel, star of the new “Tarzan and Jane.”
Cook will star in “Fearless,” playing an FBI agent with a genetic defect that makes her, well, fearless. The WB is moving its biggest new hit, “Smallville,” into the Wednesday time slot formerly occupied by “Dawson’s Creek.”
Comic Steve Harvey will be host of “Steve Harvey’s Big Time,” a variety show that spotlights the odd talents of ordinary folks.
“Angel,” which was on the fence for cancellation, will come back with creator Joss Whedon and some of the actors involved in “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer,” of which it was a spin-off.
Without the “Angel” comeback, “we thought it would be an abrupt ending to the whole mythology that we’ve given these two shows and wouldn’t have done justice to them,” Levin said.
“Greetings From Tucson” and “Do Over” won’t be back for the WB.
ABC’s other new series:
“10-8,” a drama about rookie cops in Los Angeles that will air on Sunday nights.
“Back to Kansas,” a comedy starring Breckin Meyer as a New Yorker who moves to Kansas to be near his wife’s large family.
“I’m With Her,” a comedy about a high school teacher who dates a movie star, created by Chris Henchy — a relative unknown who’s married to Brooke Shields.
“It’s All Relative,” a comedy about a woman, whose parents are two gay men, marrying a man with blue-collar parents.
“Karen Sisco,” a drama based on the character portrayed by Jennifer Lopez (news) in “Out of Sight,” about a sexy U.S. marshal in Miami.
“Threat Matrix,” a high-tech drama about the Homeland Security Agency.
The WB’s other new series:
“Run of the House,” a comedy about a 15-year-old girl, her two older brothers and a sister left to fend for themselves when their parents leave for the winter.
“Like Family,” a comedy about a 16-year-old white boy who moves in with a black family.
“All About the Andersons,” starring comic Anthony Anderson as a struggling actor and single father.