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TV Networks Prepare To Unveil Fall Lineups

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TV Networks Prepare To Unveil Fall Lineups

Television

TV Networks Prepare To Unveil Fall Lineups

TV Networks Prepare To Unveil Fall Lineups

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The broadcast TV networks are rolling out their new seasons in presentations to advertisers this week. All eyes are on NBC, which is trying to recover its prime-time lineup from the disaster of Jay Leno at 10 p.m.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

And I'm Melissa Block.

The titans of two troubled industries gathered in New York this week in hopes of mutual redemption. Network TV executives are hoping to dazzle advertisers with previews of the new programs and to lure them into buying lots of commercial time.

NPR's Neda Ulaby is at the extravaganza known as The Upfronts.

NEDA ULABY: More than $7 billion of TV ads are at stake, so it's no wonder networks are selling their new shows as hard as they possibly can.

(Soundbite of trailer)

Unidentified Announcer #1: The Emmy Award-winning creator of "Arrested Development" shows you that love...

Unidentified Woman #1 (Actor): (As character) You can't do anything unless there's something in it for you.

Unidentified Announcer #1: Is a funny thing.

ULABY: At the Fox Upfront event last night, the network showed off seven new shows for fall and midseason, including "Running Wild," about a spoiled playboy's crush on a saintly girl from his past.

(Soundbite of trailer)

(Soundbite of music)

Unidentified Announcer #2: KERI RUSSELL...

Ms. KERI RUSSELL (Actor): (As character) I am going to make you a better man.

Unidentified Announcer #2: Will Arnett...

Mr. WILL ARNETT (Actor): (As character) Not if I can make you a worse woman first.

ULABY: Fox trotted out the stars. Then to remind advertisers of the benefits of betting on new shows, the entire cast of "Glee" performed a Madonna number for hundreds of media buyers, the people who match shows to ads.

When I asked media buyers which new programs they thought would be good, they did not really care. They care about how many people watch them.

The television ad market is by far the biggest chunk of the advertising industry, but it sank 22 percent last year. Still, the networks hope that more auto ads and a stronger economy will bolster the upfront market, and the vibe has been upbeat, with plenty of buzz about new shows like NBC's "The Event."

(Soundbite of trailer)

Unidentified Man #1 (Actor): (As character) Mr. President, you're making a mistake, and everyone here agrees.

ULABY: With "The Event," NBC hopes to attract "Lost" viewers who need a new show. It's a got a twisty, "Lost-ish" plot with a little "24" thrown in.

(Soundbite of trailer)

(Soundbite of music)

Unidentified Man #2 (Actor): (As character) Open the door. (Unintelligible). (Unintelligible) air marshal. I'm not going to ask twice. Now.

ULABY: NBC hopes its 13 new shows will help the network recover from low ratings and the late night talk show host debacle. The network's new tag line is more colorful, and that happily applies to its lead casting, too. The president on "The Event" is black. Jimmy Smits plays a crusading lawyer in another new drama, and NBC is particularly pushing "Undercovers," starring a sexy pair of African-American married spies.

(Soundbite of trailer)

(Soundbite of music)

Unidentified Woman #2 (Actor): (As character) What do you want to do a grab and (unintelligible)?

Unidentified Man #3 (Actor): (As character) Did you just say the word sexpionage?

Unidentified Man #4 (Actor): (As character) What does sexpionage even mean?

ULABY: Thank show creator J.J. Abrams for that new addition to the lexicon. Abrams previously brought us "Alias" and "Lost." Lots of new shows from big names this year, such as a drama about a female U.S. marshal from David E. Kelley, the man behind "The Practice" and "Aly McBeal."

Over at ABC, the creator of "Grey's Anatomy" has yet another doctor show. That network's Upfront today wants to interest advertisers in a documentary-style show about a Detroit homicide unit and a family that gets superpowers after their plane crashes into the Amazon.

Neda Ulaby, NPR News, New York.

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