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NBC's new lineup: 'The Office' gets a spinoff; 'Friday Night Lights' and 'ER' return

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Slater_l NBC announced its fall lineup this afternoon in New York City. Highlights:

1. The long-rumored spinoff to The Office, will premiere after the 2009 Super Bowl.

2. Friday Night Lights will return for a third season as part of what NBC called a “unique” partnership with DirecTV. (Translation: NBC needs cash.) The satellite TV service has exclusive rights to FNL‘s 13 new episodes, which will begin airing October 1. Here’s the bad news: If you don’t have DirecTV, those eps won’t air on NBC until the spring.

3. ER will be back for its 15th, and final, season, and so will Noah Wyle.

The announcements were part of NBC’s new strategy to be “in front” of its competitors by presenting a “52-week super-season” of “quality programming” to advertisers and journalists in lieu of the usual May upfront extravaganza. Network co-chair Ben Silverman described the network’s slate as “inspirational, heroic, entertaining, escapist, engaging, real heroes and super heroes.” Time will tell. Here’s how the next year or so will shake out:

Returning Fall 2008
Chuck, The Biggest Loser: Families, Law & Order: SVU, Deal or No Deal, My Name is Earl, 30 Rock, The Office, ER, and Life. Heroes will premiere Sept. 15 as a three-hour special, and Lipstick Jungle is back, Silverman says, because “the women of America have spoken.”

New Fall 2008
My Own Worst Enemy. Drama. Christian Slater (pictured) plays a guy with two personalities: one named Henry with a dry-toast life and Edward, a trained killer. Think “Jekyll & Hyde meets The Bourne Identity.” Silverman said he had to really push to land Slater for the role: “I took his mother out to lunch,” he said.

Kath & Kim. Comedy. Molly Shannon and Selma Blair star as a brassy and dysfunctional mother-daughter living it up in suburbia. The show originated in Australia. “It’s part of our own trilogy,” Silverman said. “Ugly Betty we found in Colombia; The Office we found in London.” 

Knight Rider. Drama. Remake of ’80s series featuring a guy and his tricked-out car.

SNL Thursday Night Live. Comedy. To capitalize on the November presidential election, SNL will expand its “Weekend Update” coverage for three, live, half-hour shows, beginning Oct. 16.

New Winter 2009
The Philanthropist. Drama. About a renegade do-gooder.

The Office spinoff. Comedy. No details yet, but we hope it entails Dwight Shrute getting into fisticuffs with an assistant [to the] regional manager at another Dunder & Mifflin branch.

Merlin. Fantasy. Set in a 21st century Camelot. 

Kings. Drama. Starring Ian McShane (Deadwood), directed by Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend). Silverman calls it an exploration for the David vs. Goliath struggle. (We’re rooting for the little guy, right?) 

New Summer 2009
America’s Toughest Jobs. Reality. Self-explanatory.

Shark Taggers. Reality. Marine biologists tag sharks (duh) with transmitters.   

The Listener. Drama. A 24-year-old helps solve crimes by reading people’s minds. 

Chopping Block. Reality. Competition show from the producers of Hell’s Kitchen. Couples elbow their way to opening their own restaurant in Manhattan — if they can survive getting grilled by rock-star chef Marco Pierre White. 

Returning Fall 2008
Chuck, The Biggest Loser: Families, Law & Order: SVU, Deal or No Deal, My Name is Earl, 30 Rock, The Office, ER, and Life. Heroes will premiere Sept. 15 as a three-hour special, and Lipstick Jungle is back, Silverman says, because “the women of America have spoken.”

New Fall 2008
My Own Worst Enemy. Drama. Christian Slater (pictured) plays a guy with two personalities: one named Henry with a dry-toast life and Edward, a trained killer. Think “Jekyll & Hyde meets The Bourne Identity.” Silverman said he had to really push to land Slater for the role: “I took his mother out to lunch,” he said.

Kath & Kim. Comedy. Molly Shannon and Selma Blair star as a brassy and dysfunctional mother-daughter living it up in suburbia. The show originated in Australia. “It’s part of our own trilogy,” Silverman said. “Ugly Betty we found in Colombia; The Office we found in London.” 

Knight Rider. Drama. Remake of ’80s series featuring a guy and his tricked-out car.

SNL Thursday Night Live. Comedy. To capitalize on the November presidential election, SNL will expand its “Weekend Update” coverage for three, live, half-hour shows, beginning Oct. 16.

New Winter 2009
The Philanthropist. Drama. About a renegade do-gooder.

The Office spinoff. Comedy. No details yet, but we hope it entails Dwight Shrute getting into fisticuffs with an assistant [to the] regional manager at another Dunder & Mifflin branch.

Merlin. Fantasy. Set in a 21st century Camelot. 

Kings. Drama. Starring Ian McShane (Deadwood), directed by Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend). Silverman calls it an exploration for the David vs. Goliath struggle. (We’re rooting for the little guy, right?) 

New Summer 2009
America’s Toughest Jobs. Reality. Self-explanatory.

Shark Taggers. Reality. Marine biologists tag sharks (duh) with transmitters.   

The Listener. Drama. A 24-year-old helps solve crimes by reading people’s minds. 

Chopping Block. Reality. Competition show from the producers of Hell’s Kitchen. Couples elbow their way to opening their own restaurant in Manhattan — if they can survive getting grilled by rock-star chef Marco Pierre White.