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Girls rule the fall TV lineup

Female-fronted shows like ”Gossip Girl” and ”Kath & Kim” dominate the fall season

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Your local multiplex may be filled with bullets and boys this summer, but over in TV land, women still rule. As the networks presented their fall schedules at the Television Critics Association press tour last week, they promised juicy story lines for a fabulous set of high-profile divas and heroines.

· THE CW IS GETTING A HEAD START on premiere week by bowing its top series — Gossip Girl, America’s Next Top Model, and One Tree Hill — during the first week of September. But the biggest news came from its much-hyped 90210 spin-off: Prodigal daughter Brenda Walsh will once again be played by Shannen Doherty! In this version, she relocates to be a ”guest drama teacher” who directs West Beverly High’s school musical. Doherty’s return amps the nostalgia factor up another notch: Jennie Garth, Tori Spelling, and Joe E. Tata are also set to reprise their iconic ’90s alter egos.

· ABC’S DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES will feature a new mystery for the ladies of Wisteria Lane to gossip about, courtesy of cast addition Neal McDonough (Tin Man), who plays a love interest for Edie. (Nicollette Sheridan returns despite rumblings of her exit.) And Teri Hatcher’s Susan continues her tryst with the man spotted in the season-ending flash-forward (Queer as Folk‘s Gale Harold), but creator Marc Cherry hints at turbulence ahead: ”Susan doesn’t really want to be in a relationship.”

· SHOWTIME DOES WANT TO KEEP THINGS GOING with The L Word: As the lesbian drama enters its final season, creator Ilene Chaiken is developing a spin-off for one of its main characters. The pay cabler is also looking to continue its hot streak with Edie Falco’s medical dramedy Nurse Jackie and two more seasons of Weeds. Multiple-personality comedy The United States of Tara (starring Toni Collette and written by Diablo Cody) will bow in 2009.

· EVEN MUST-SEE TV IS GOING ALL TELEVISION FOR WOMEN. Instead of that Office spin-off you’ve heard about, exec producer Greg Daniels is developing a new Thursday comedy — likely to hit NBC in the spring — anchored by Amy Poehler. And another SNL alumna (that makes three, with 30 Rock‘s Tina Fey) will join that night’s vaunted comedy lineup when the Molly Shannon sitcom Kath & Kim (adapted from an Australian show of the same name) takes the 8:30 slot. She and Selma Blair star as a dysfunctional mother-daughter pair, and they swear things are on track despite planned reshoots of the pilot and their rather slight age difference. (They’re not even eight years apart in real life.) Shannon says playing older is easy with the right inspiration — ”I was doing a lot of impressions of my dad, but as women” — and Blair encourages doubters to just ”squint while you’re watching.”


MANY HAPPY RETURNS
Your guide to some notable season premieres
Sept. 1
Gossip Girl

Sept. 16
House

Sept. 18
Survivor: Gabon

Sept. 22
Heroes

Sept. 25
Grey’s Anatomy

Sept. 25
The Office

Sept. 28
The Simpsons

Sept. 28
Desperate Housewives

Oct. 9
CSI