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Familiar faces in ABC's new lineup

Plagued by listless ratings and a lineup of aging shows, ABC is turning to television veterans with an MonicaChandler established track record of hits for its fall schedule.

The schedule, which features 10 new programs, was released Tuesday in New York at the so-called upfront meetings where broadcast TV networks give affiliates and sponsors a preview of the fall season.

After a season in which its ratings slipped -- especially during the 10 p.m. hour, where they dropped 9 percent -- and producers decided to pull the plug on one-time Nielsen powerhouse Lost, ABC executives said they felt a sense of urgency.

"We really had three goals: more comedy, attack 10 o'clock and event television," ABC programming boss Steve McPherson told reporters in New York.

To do it, they assembled a group of producers and stars with links to some of TV's biggest critical and financial successes of the past two decades:

Mr. Sunshine, a sitcom about the manager of a seedy sports arena who's suffering a mid-life crisis, unites cast members from two wildly successful NBC shows, Friends (Matthew Perry) and The West Wing (Allison Janney). ABC seriously considered creating a kind of Friends reunion by scheduling Mr. Sunshine right after the comedy Cougar Town, which stars Friendsalum Courteney Cox, but pulled back at the last minute.

• Yet another Friends veteran, producer-writer Shana Goldberg, is producing Better Together, a sitcom about the romantic misadventures of three couples linked by blood or marriage.

• Shonda Rhimes, who produces the ABC hit Grey's Anatomyand its solidly performing spinoff Private Practice, will add her third medical drama to the network's lineup: Off The Map, set in a bedraggled hospital in the middle of a South American jungle.

• Michael Chiklis, whose performance as a renegade cop in The Shield single-handedly turned FX one of the least-known cable networks to one of the most important, stars in the superhero action drama No Ordinary Family.

• Dana Delany, who won two Emmys as the star of ABC's critically acclaimed Vietnam drama China Beach, plays a brilliant but damaged medical examiner in Body Of Proof.

The other new shows include Detroit 1-8-7, a mockumentary about homicide cops starring Michael Imperioli of The Sopranos; whatever-happened-to-the-class-of-2000 soap My Generation; The Whole Truth, a legal drama about law-school chums squaring off in the courtroom; Happy Endings, a sitcom about who gets custody of friends when a romance breaks up; and Secret Millionaire, a resuscitated Fox reality show from 2008.

ABC's cancellations include Better Off Ted, Flash Forward, Scrubs, Happy Town, Romantically Challenged, The Deep End, Ugly Betty, Eastwick, Find My Family, The Forgotten, Hank, Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, Shark Tank and Supermanny.


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