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Posted at 4:53 a.m. EST Wednesday, January 26, 2000

PLENTY OF OLD, 9 NEW SERIES TO BE IN ABC'S FALL LINEUP

'DREW CAREY' RETURNS; FRIENDS ARE BIG IN SITCOMS DATE: Tuesday, May 21, 1996

R.D. Heldenfels

Beacon Journal's television writer

Prime-time audiences still will hear Solon rhyme with bowlin' in a TV theme song next season.

The Drew Carey Show, set in Cleveland and starring Cleveland's own Drew Carey, has been picked up for a second season on ABC, albeit in a new time slot -- 9:30 p.m. Wednesdays, between Grace Under Fire and PrimeTime Live.

For people who care about more than having a prime-time star who wears Ghoulardi T-shirts, ABC's new fall lineup includes nine new series: six half-hour comedies, two one-hour dramas and a weekly version of Turning Point, previously seen as news specials.

In addition to Carey's show, returning series include America's Funniest Home Videos, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Monday Night Football, Roseanne, Home Improvement, Coach, NYPD Blue, Ellen, Grace Under Fire, PrimeTime Live, Family Matters, Boy Meets World, 20/20, Second Noah, High Incident and the Sunday movie.

Murder One also will return, but instead of focusing on one murder case the series will follow at least three cases next season, ABC said. Series star Daniel Benzali will not be back, and there was no word on the future of the rest of cast.

Although they are not on the fall schedule, Muppets Tonight!, Step by Step and Hangin' With Mr. Cooper have received orders for new episodes as possible midseason replacement series.

Not on ABC's list were 1995-96 series The Dana Carvey Show, Buddies, Champs, The Faculty, The Marshal, Hudson Street, The Naked Truth, Charlie Grace, The Monroes, Maybe This Time, Aliens in the Family, Before They Were Stars, World's Funniest Videos and the Saturday movie. In addition, The Jeff Foxworthy Show, on ABC this season, will move to NBC in the fall.

The new comedies on ABC include:

+ Life's Work (Tuesday). Stand-up comic Lisa Ann Walter plays an assistant state attorney balancing her professional and personal life. Just think: someone is getting hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to (a) try to turn yet another stand-up comic into a series star and (b) come up with an inventive idea like balancing home and office.

+ Spin City (Tuesday). Michael J. Fox does his first series since Family Ties ended in 1989, which shouldn't surprise anyone who saw such big-screen triumphs as Greedy and Life With Mikey. This time he's playing the chief deputy to the mayor of New York City. He finds -- are you ready? -- `playing politics applies not only to his professional life, but to his personal life as well.`

+ Townies (Wednesday). Molly Ringwald, whose recent movie success is rivaled only by Michael J. Fox's, stars in a series about a group of New England friends. (Somebody got paid to come up with that, too.)

+ Sabrina, the Teenage Witch (Friday). Spun from the recent Showtime movie, itself spun from the comic-book and cartoon character, this stars Melissa Joan
-1Hart (Nickelodeon's Clarissa Explains It All) as, well, a teen-age witch.

+ Clueless (Friday). Rachel Blanchard takes over from Alicia Silverstone in this TV version of the big-screen hit. Which was loosely based on a Jane Austen novel, not that you'll ever hear that in a `T.G.I.F.` ad. Several stars from the movie, including Stacey Dash, Donald Faison and Wallace Shawn, also will be in the series.

+ Common Law (Saturday). Based on the descriptions already presented here, you can fill in the blanks on this one. A (blank), Greg Giraldo, plays a man balancing his (blank) and his (blank), with the latter including his (blank).

Answers: comedian, work (bonus if you guessed as a Manhattan lawyer), personal life (Manhattan girlfriend, Queens family), friends (bonus: blue-collar).

The new ABC dramas are:

+ Dangerous Minds (Monday). Based on the hit movie starring Michelle Pfeiffer, this puts Annie Potts (Designing Women) into the role of ex-Marine turned inspirational teacher.

+ Relativity (Saturday). The executive producers of thirtysome-thing look at romance as a couple (Kimberly Williams, David Conrad) meet in Europe, fall in love and then start dealing with the nitty-gritty, like her fiance -- who just bought her a house.

ABC has also ordered two new backup series for midseason replacements:

+ It's Good to Be King, a comedy with Jim Belushi as the divorced manager of a Chicago blues club (a familiar venue since Belushi's late brother John and Dan Aykroyd were the Blues Brothers).

+ The Practice, with Dylan McDermott as a charismatic Boston defense attorney helping underdog clients. If that concept sounds familiar, you may remember 1995's The Great Defender or 1990's Against the Law, both about scrappy Boston attorneys, both flops. But the new series boasts writer-producer David E. Kelley (Picket Fences, Chicago Hope).

The network also announced a five-year deal with author Tom Clancy (Clear and Present Danger) to develop dramas and miniseries.

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