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Wednesday's New Shows

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WELCOME TO NEW YORK
CONCEPT Callow Midwesterner (stand-up comic Jim Gaffigan) comes to Manhattan to be a TV weatherman, encounters a tough boss (Cybill‘s Christine Baranski).
THE SCOOP Baranski signed on late in the development of this show from David Letterman’s Worldwide Pants production company, and it sounds like what was once a vehicle for Gaffigan’s humor is going to be majorly, well, Baranskied: ”I came through the back door of somebody else’s pilot,” she says frankly. ”Because they gave me the money I wanted, I’m an executive producer, I’m the lead, and I have collaborative input.” Recent addition Sara Gilbert will play Baranski’s assistant; as a Roseanne survivor, she’s probably ready to grapple with another take-charge star.
BOTTOM LINE Hey, Jimbo, watch your back: The quality of the pilot is as iffy as the question of who’s the real star of this show.

NORMAL, OHIO
CONCEPT John Goodman as a small-town guy who comes out of the closet in midlife to his ex-wife, his son, and his parents.
THE SCOOP Conceived as a sort of Odd Couple costarring Anthony LaPaglia (who’s since been dropped), the show now focuses, according to 3rd Rock producer and cocreator Terry Turner, on ”a man standing in the middle of his very eccentric family … He’s not stereotypical in terms of what everyone thinks is ‘gay’ and yet he’s the only person in the family who’s kind of normal.” Ellen‘s Joely Fisher has been added to the cast as Pamela, the Goodman character’s sister. The net describes her in one of those covering-all-the-bases summations as ”a tough and sexy single mother of two teenagers.”
BOTTOM LINE While a change in concept and costars would normally smell like trouble, never count out a talent like Goodman; we won’t — until we see the finished pilot, anyway.

THE STREET
CONCEPT The triumphs and travails of a bunch of good-looking young Wall Streeters, courtesy of Melrose Place/Sex and the City creator Darren Star.
THE SCOOP Star says he liked the idea of doing a show about ”the last boys’ club.” ”You’ve got an Ivy League [character] sitting next to an ex-Navy SEAL … There’s something very democratic about that.” (Sounds like a bull-market Survivor.) While Star says the show is ”definitely a comedic drama,” that’s ”not to say that issues of anti-Semitism, racism, homophobia, and classism aren’t going to occur.”
BOTTOM LINE With Star’s ambition, and a cast including film actors Tom Everett Scott and Jennifer Connelly, plus guest star Jennie Garth, this could prove a blue-chip investment.

GIDEON’S CROSSING
CONCEPT Homicide‘s André Braugher as the head of a Boston teaching hospital.
THE SCOOP ”If you look at a show like ER, every five minutes you know there’ll be a gurney crashing through the doors,” observes Braugher. ”Other shows, their idea of drama is to slap someone. Let’s blow up a couple cars. Let’s kidnap the lead’s son. This is a script that generated drama from an interior place. It didn’t depend on tricks, television dramatics, to elicit the audience’s sympathy.”
BOTTOM LINE Heavy on dialogue and moral life lessons, this show succeeds or fails on the appeal of Braugher’s character … and he knows it: ”I’m Dr. Gideon, Medicine Man,” he jokes.

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