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Looking to fall, networks start lining up stars for series

70th Annual Golden Globe Awards - Arrivals

70th Annual Golden Globe Awards - Arrivals

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Updated: March 18, 2013 6:30AM

Battling viewer apathy over many of this year’s shows, networks are busily crafting next fall’s crop, featuring big names and well-known titles.

Some projects are already locked in: Michael J. Fox returns to NBC with a not-yet-titled sitcom about a news anchor back at work after treating a disease (Fox has Parkinson’s). NBC also has a new “Dracula” in Jonathan Rhys Meyers (“The Tudors”). Animation king (and Oscar host) Seth MacFarlane has an early commitment from Fox for “Dads,” in which the lives of two pals are interrupted when their dads move in, a recurring theme among proposed comedies.

Of the nearly 100 other pilots vying for scarce schedule slots, safe bets include “S.H.I.E.L.D.,” Disney-owned Marvel’s first collaboration with ABC, with Joss Whedon (“The Avengers”) at the helm; CBS’ “Beverly Hills Cop,” about Axel Foley’s son, with Eddie Murphy slated to reprise his film role; “Mom,” a CBS comedy with Anna Faris and Allison Janney from hit producer Chuck Lorre (“Big Bang Theory”); and a Fox cop comedy with Andy Samberg and Andre Braugher.

Other stars in TV returns: Robin Williams as an adman in CBS’ David E. Kelley comedy “Crazy Ones;” James Caan as an ABC sitcom dad; “Lost’s” Josh Holloway as an agent with a special gift in CBS’ “Intelligence;” Sean Hayes (“Will & Grace”) in an NBC father-daughter comedy; and Toni Collette in “Hostages,” a CBS conspiracy drama from Jerry Bruckheimer.

Hostages marks the trend of “more thrillers this season,” says Carolyn Finger of Variety Insight, based on buzz around “Homeland” and “The Following.” That’s especially true at ABC, where “so many pilots were straight-ahead soap operas last season; they need to bring some male viewers back to the network.”

For series based on films, CBS is eyeing “Bad Teacher,” and NBC is mulling “About a Boy.” And CW is plotting a “Vampire Diaries” spinoff.

Gannett News Service

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