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Fall 2008 TV lineup

Fall 2008 TV lineup — Networks scrap ”Moonlight” and ”Back to You” for ”Knight Rider,” J.J. Abrams’ ”Fringe” and a revamped ”Beverly Hills, 90210”

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Since NBC already revealed its fall lineup in April, the network spent last week announcing how it plans to keep its shows afloat in the tough TV market: Hello, product placement! In a deal similar to Ford’s pact with the fall reboot of Knight Rider, GM will supply the two cars that Christian Slater’s Jekyll & Hyde character drives in My Own Worst Enemy. ”We need our advertisers to buy the culture of the show,” explains NBC Entertainment co-chair Ben Silverman, ”so in a spy show, an automotive partner is obvious.” 30 Rock star Tina Fey admits she also considers the practice: ”Our show is expensive, so we try to help offset costs.” Besides, cracks Silverman, ”We’re open another year because of it.”

High on Gossip Girl‘s buzz, The CW has developed a simple strategy going forward: Mimic its predecessor, The WB. The network picked up a Beverly Hills, 90210 spin-off (original series star Jennie Garth will appear in a recurring role); Stylista, a mash-up of America’s Next Top Model and The Devil Wears Prada; and Surviving the Filthy Rich, a show about a young woman who tutors wealthy Palm Beach teens, coming from the production company behind Gossip Girl. Aside from the cancellation of Aliens in America, the rest of The CW’s schedule was left intact.

ABC had excellent news for fans of promising (but ratings-starved) dramas like Pushing Daisies, Dirty Sexy Money, and Eli Stone. Thanks to the 100-day writers’ strike, the network had time to develop only a handful of new series: time-traveling drama Life on Mars will air after Grey’s Anatomy on Thursdays, while reality show Opportunity Knocks literally brings a game show to someone’s front door each week. In fact, it can be said that ABC remains in the middle of its development season. ”We still have 17 pilots in [contention] for midseason,” says ABC Entertainment president Stephen McPherson. ”That’s when the openings will come.” Women’s Murder Club, Men in Trees, and October Road are history, while Boston Legal returns for one final season and, as expected, NBC’s Scrubs heads to ABC for year 8.

One show that won’t be joining it on that network — despite reports of a transfer: The New Adventures of Old Christine. CBS greenlit a fourth year of Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ mom-edy to bolster its sitcom lineup, which now includes Project Gary (starring Jay Mohr as a divorced dad) and Worst Week, based on a British show, quite similar to ABC’s 2006 wedding comedy Big Day. Shark, Cane, and Moonlight are gone, replaced by dramas like The Ex List, based on a series from Israel about a woman (Elizabeth Reaser) who learns from a psychic that she’s already met her future husband and sorts through past suitors trying to find him, and Eleventh Hour, a science-fiction thriller from Jerry Bruckheimer.

In a surprise move, Fox passed on Bernie Mac’s latest project and canned the Kelsey Grammer comedy Back to You to make way for two high-profile shows. Fringe, from Lost‘s J.J. Abrams, centers on an FBI agent who investigates paranormal activities. And Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans will be pleased to hear that the network picked up Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse, about a group of young adults (led by Buffy alum Eliza Dushku) who are programmed in a laboratory to carry out covert missions. — Lynette Rice and Tanner Stransky