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TV Networks Hope Familiar Faces Bring Viewers To New Fall Shows

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TV Networks Hope Familiar Faces Bring Viewers To New Fall Shows

Upfronts 2012

TV Networks Hope Familiar Faces Bring Viewers To New Fall Shows

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I know, I know, its spring. The weather is warming and sitting in front of the TV may not sound as appealing as it did when it was cold and miserable outside. But for television networks, fall - the season of new TV offerings - is always just around the corner. And in that spirit, last week was Television Upfront Week. This is when networks unveil their fall schedules, and we have got a little preview for you of what will be on offer when the breezes cool a bit.

Sure, there's a lot that's new but you're going to see a lot of familiar faces too, come fall. NPR's Linda Holmes is with me. She writes NPR's pop culture blog called Monkey See. Welcome to the program, Linda.

LINDA HOLMES, BYLINE: Thank you so much.

MARTIN: OK. So, we're going to start with Connie Britton, the beloved Tami Taylor from NBC's "Friday Night Lights." She is back in a big way, right?

HOLMES: She is. She is. Connie Britton, who spent last season on the FX sort of gothic horror "American Horror Story" is back this season on an ABC show called "Nashville," where she plays a sort of legendary country singer who is being challenged by an upstart blonde, crossover pop sensation. And her label is being disloyal to her.

(SOUNDBITE OF "NASHVILLE")

CONNIE BRITTON: (as Tami Taylor) You're telling me after 21 years at this label, if I don't open for your little ingenue who wouldn't make it as one of my backup singers, that you're not going to support me?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Still, I need to know your decision.

BRITTON: (as Tami Taylor) Oh, you can kiss my decision as it's walking out the door.

MARTIN: All right, I hear a little sassy Tami Taylor in there.

HOLMES: That is Tami Taylor. You can definitely hear it. People are ready to see her drop-kick anybody that gets in her way.

I think that's always very popular. I'm waiting for a little hey, y'all.

MARTIN: OK, speaking of familiar faces, another one, Matthew Perry back on the small screen - this time playing a sports radiocaster. He loses his wife in a car accident. The show is called "Go On."

(SOUNDBITE OF SERIES, "GO ON")

MATTHEW PERRY: (as Ryan King) Listen, Terrell, thanks a lot for joining us, man.

TERRELL OWENS: (as Terrell Owens) Sure, just don't ask me which one of my teammates are ugly.

PERRY: (Ryan King) When we return, Terrell Owens will discuss which of one of his teammates he finds to be the most attractive.

MARTIN: This isn't the first time Matthew Perry has tried to reinvent himself on TV since "Friends," right?

HOLMES: Right. He's one of those people who has sort of been bouncing around. He's done a few different things. He did "Studio 60," which was a drama - an Aaron Sorkin drama. And then he had a show on ABC called "Mr. Sunshine" which did not last very long, which I kind of liked.

You know, when somebody has had a success as big as "Friends," and they feel like the person is as personally likable - and I - there's all kinds of testing that goes into seeing whether people like you and whether people want to see you on TV. They will bring you back and back and try over and over again. And sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.

MARTIN: Moving on, a lot of buzz around Mindy Kaling's new show, right?

HOLMES: Yes, Mindy Kaling's new show is on Fox. She - you may know her from "The Office," where she plays Kelly Kapoor.

MARTIN: Of course.

HOLMES: And she had a book that was out this year. She's doing a lot of stuff and she's got a show currently called "The Mindy Project," where she plays a gynecologist and who's, you know, in dating situations and kind of young, goofy doctor. And that's going to be paired on Fox with "New Girl," which is the Zooey Deschanel kind of goofy girl show.

MARTIN: OK. Next, I want to talk to you about a new show called "666 Park Avenue"?

HOLMES: Yeah.

MARTIN: This sounds bizarre, I mean this mash-up of all these different genres?

HOLMES: Yes. Yes. Yeah. You know, on ABC their two successes of last season were "Once Upon a Time," which is very much a sort of fantasy mythology show, and "Revenge," their big soapy soap. So "666 Park Avenue" is kind of a combination of those two things. It is basically a show that implies that these people are living in this fancy apartment building in New York, and it is possible that the landlord is the Devil.

(SOUNDBITE OF SERIES, "666 PARK AVENUE")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Home to 80 residents...

MERCEDES MASOHN: (as Louise Leonard) Hi, I'm Louise.

RACHAEL TAYLOR: (as Jane Van Veen) Jane, nice to meet you. Just stop by for drinks some time.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: It's a friendly building.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: ...but don't let the amenities fool you.

MARTIN: So that's this kind of really like soap opera-esque show that's popular with ABC. Is it common that networks kind of associate themselves with a type of show?

HOLMES: Yes, "666 Park Avenue" is very ABC. I don't think you'd see that show probably on any other network. It's the network that's got "Grey's Anatomy" and it had "Desperate Housewives" and things like that. Over at CBS, it's a more meat and potatoes traditional. A lot of it is crime procedurals. They've got a lot of sort of cop and lawyer shows...

MARTIN: Kind of working-class vibe.

HOLMES: Yup. And then, NBC has less of an angle. I don't think that anybody knows exactly what their angle is right now.

MARTIN: Still trying to figure it out - NBC.

HOLMES: They're still looking for one.

MARTIN: And we shouldn't get too attached, right?

HOLMES: Mercy, no.

MARTIN: I mean, how many new shows got cancelled last year?

HOLMES: A remarkably long list of shows. You know, out of everything that you're seeing right now at Upfronts, you know, more than half of it will be cancelled, either by the end of the season...

MARTIN: More than half?

HOLMES: Oh, sure. Yes.

MARTIN: Wow.

HOLMES: You know, there is a constant churn in television. And it's a lot easier to keep a show like "Grey's Anatomy" going for another season than it is to find a new show that's going to hit. And a lot of the things we're talking about now, everybody will hardly remember.

MARTIN: It is May, fall is still a long time from now. Any new summer stuff in the works that you can give us a sense of?

HOLMES: The networks will have a couple of kind of limited-run scripted shows. It's also a very big season for reality. You know, NBC has got their send-people-off-for-a-dating-show-in-the-jungle thing coming back, which is called "Love in the Wild."

MARTIN: Heard that once or twice. Seen that...

HOLMES: Yeah, it's called "Love in the Wild." So yes, summer is a slow season but there will be some stuff.

MARTIN: OK, plenty to watch. NPR's Linda Holmes, she writes the pop culture blog Monkey See. You can find it at npr.org.

Linda, thanks so much.

HOLMES: Thank you.

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