September 02, 2011 at 04:00 AM EDT

Up All Night
New Comedy
8-8:30 p.m., NBC
Does changing a baby have to change you? Can you still find time for a pub crawl while the little one is learning to crawl? These questions and more will be tackled with big laughs (and dark circles under the eyes) by NBC’s Up All Night. Featuring Christina Applegate as new mom Reagan — whose husband, Chris (Will Arnett), agrees to play stay-at-home dad (and some videogames) while she returns to her job as producer of a daytime talk show hosted by the high-maintenance Ava (Maya Rudolph) — the show explores the modern-day phenomenon of later-in-life first-time parenthood. ”It’s not a show about a baby — it’s a show about a couple with a baby and how it informs their life,” explains series creator Emily Spivey, whose fellow exec producer is Saturday Night Live guru Lorne Michaels. ”It’s not going to be Full House with a bunch of close-ups of babies going, ‘Oh, man!’ Anybody at any life stage can understand what it’s like when you’re having to reevaluate who you are because of the circumstances you’re in. I’m hoping it’ll have a wide appeal just for that.”

It also doesn’t hurt to have Arnett (Arrested Development), Applegate (Samantha Who?), and Rudolph (SNL) heading up your cast. EW gathered the three stars/parents — Rudolph gave birth to her third child in July, Applegate had her first in January, and Arnett and his wife, Amy Poehler, welcomed their second last year — for a loopy chat.

The idea of a comedy about being new parents is pitched to you, and your first thought is…
Will Arnett Snooze. [Laughter]
Christina Applegate Well, that’s easy, I’m a new parent. So I don’t have to really work hard.
Maya Rudolph I can do that!
Arnett I heard about it as ”Hey, Emily wrote a really funny script.” But if someone were to say, ”We’ve got this script that’s about new parents,” you think, ”Oh, boyyyy.”
Applegate It wasn’t pitched [as] ”new parents.” It was just a really good script…. I read it, and I laughed, and I met with [Emily], and she was incredibly funny and strange. And I thought, ”This could be good.”
Rudolph Emily Spivey is my comedy husband, which I realized when I say it out loud makes her the man, but I think it’s interchangeable. We performed together in the Groundlings. Then she started on SNL as a writer the year after I did, and we shared an office for the entire time that we were there…. I’ve been writing with Spivey for, like, 40 years.

With the new additions to your families, were you even looking to do a TV series this fall?
Rudolph This was really shoddy timing on my part.
Applegate I didn’t know what I wanted to do. When we started shooting, my daughter was only two and a half months old, so I literally just had my kid when they came with the script.
Arnett To the delivery room?
Applegate I think I was just hormonal, is really what happened. Honestly, I really wasn’t ready, but then I thought, ”Well, Emily’s really interesting, and I want to explore it.” They’d come over and I’d have to be sitting on one butt cheek, that’s how soon after… My doctor was still there, trying to cut the cord.
Arnett [The short-lived Fox sitcom Running Wilde] was the most exhausting experience of my entire life, workwise. I mean, it was really fun and we were just trying to make this goofy show… So at the end of that I was like, ”F– this, man. I’m taking some time off. Let my wife work hard.” I was super-burnt. My vitamin B levels were really low.
Rudolph It’s really hard when your friends are doing something. You feel like, ”Awww, man, that’s going to be fun! Shoot! I better pop that baby out.” Nobody likes to sign up to do a pilot six months pregnant. Like, ”Hey, we’re just going to shoot around it and hide it.” I was like, ”What lady wants to be on camera six months pregnant?” But I know what lady does: me! I’m the lady that’s always pregnant, and always says yes.

What story lines can we expect?
Rudolph We’re all in space suits.
Arnett It’s not just a show about people having babies, it’s a show about everybody starting their lives and becoming adults a little bit later. What happens when you’re 40 and now you’ve got to get serious? Used to be in the generation before, they’d have three or four wild years and then they’d settle down. Now people have, like, 20 wild years and then they go, ”Hold the phone, y’all.” And it’s like, ”Guess what? There is no phone. There’s only texting.” That’s the difference.
Applegate Let’s put it this way: I had my child at 39 years old. I am part of that generation that still says ”dude.” I still say ”awesome.” I just got a tattoo a couple of years ago — another one. So this is the generation of people who are having babies later, and that’s where we are with this group. It’s a lot of years of being selfish. Now it can’t be your way anymore, it doesn’t belong to you. And that’s okay.

Maya, your character, who was originally a publicist, has been reimagined as a daytime-talk-show host. How close to your SNL version of Oprah will she be?
Rudolph The place to go is to aspire to be Oprah, like any talk-show host would today. I’m certainly not going to be playing Oprah, but that’s the only thing you can think of when you’re thinking of daytime talk. Who is the queen of daytime talk?
Applegate Tyra! [Laughter]

This is not a competition, but what is the funniest thing that one of your kids recently did?
Arnett My son did 10 minutes at Carolines last week that was so f–ing good. He’s on the road with Louis C.K. He does a tight 10.
Rudolph I was holding my newborn, Jack, the other day, and my oldest daughter, Pearl, started rubbing my stomach and said to the baby, ”Say goodbye to your old home, Jack!” [Laughter] That’s pretty good.
Applegate My baby is 6 months old, so she doesn’t talk. Right now she’s just really into [makes raspberry noise], right in your face. For hours.
Arnett The other day, Archie was sitting on the floor, he had taken off his diaper and was claiming that he didn’t need a diaper, and then he peed on the deck. Then he said, ”Dat penis funny.”
Rudolph Is he Ali G?

You’re up against Survivor and The X Factor
Arnett You know what the x factor here is? They won’t be surviving the fall, okay? And they’re going to be the ones stuck in the middle
Applegate What?
Arnett That’s our other show we’re up against: The Middle. [Deadpan] Anyway, we’re in real trouble. [Laughter]
Applegate I don’t know if that’s our audience.
Rudolph You mean all of America?
What can you guarantee about this show?
Applegate I made them promise me from the beginning that we’ll never have a joke where I come into work with spit-up on my shirt.
Arnett [Checking his phone] Oh, they just emailed me the spit-up episode.
Applegate It’s not about parenting, it’s about these people changing. This isn’t a commentary on the funny things that happen, like poop and pee and spit-up.
Rudolph I don’t think my character is ever going to have a montage to ”Walking on Sunshine” while trying on different outfits.
Arnett This is the first time I’ve read a script where I actually identified. On TV anyway, my characters have always been crazy.
Applegate This character that you’re playing is just so far from what you are. You’re kind of a dirty, crass…
Rudolph …douche.
Arnett I’ve played a lot of arch characters, so I’m happy to play someone who is much more real. I’ve always played oblivious characters who are borderline mentally handicapped.
Applegate Closer to home.
Arnett I f–ing heard that! By the way, does this article make me look fat? This interview is over!
(Sept. 14)Dan Snierson

New Reality
8-9 p.m., The CW
From the mind of Mario Lopez comes a show that bravely takes up the cause of celebrities aggrieved by the trolls who loathe them. H8R follows such stars as Eva Longoria and ”stars” like Kim Kardashian and The Bachelor‘s Jake Pavelka as they ambush their ”haters,” members of the general public who dislike them as a rule. They then spend time together, with the celebs trying to win over their haters. Exec producer Mike Fleiss insists the surprise encounters are legit — Pavelka even got a drink thrown in his face. ”We try to have fun with it,” says Lopez, adding that the show ”has a very anti-bullying tone to it. The message is ‘Don’t discriminate, don’t hate, that’s not cool.’ ” (Sept. 14)

The Middle
Returning Comedy
8-8:30 p.m., ABC
The season 3 premiere of the kooky family comedy is doubling as an Everybody Loves Raymond reunion: Patricia Heaton will appear with former onscreen hubby Ray Romano, who shows up in flashbacks as a guy who ruined her honeymoon. ”With Patty and Ray coming together, I think we’ll give you what you want,” teases Middle co-creator Eileen Heisler. ”We don’t go over the top, but we have a little fun with it.” The clan then settles back into school, where Glee‘s Chord Overstreet will guest-star as Brick’s (Atticus Shaffer) new fourth-grade teacher. Says Heisler with a laugh, ”They’ll be dealing with their family and work crap. Same as ever. You know, life goes on in The Middle.” (Sept. 21)

Survivor: South Pacific
Returning Reality
8-9 p.m., CBS
The Redemption Island twist is back, but with one change. ”We’re only having two-person duels,” reveals Emmy-winning host Jeff Probst. ”We’re not having multiperson duels.” So it truly is win or go home. Also back for season 23 are two former players: Benjamin ”Coach” Wade and Ozzy Lusth. What do these returnees have in common? ”Their social games suck!” says Probst. ”Coach? He blew it in Heroes vs Villains. He blew it seven different ways. And Ozzy got voted out with an idol in his hand!” Of course, it wouldn’t be a season of Survivor without a Hantz, but in this case it’s not Russell, it’s his nephew Brandon. ”Unless I’m getting played, which I could be, Brandon is the opposite of Russell,” says Probst. ”I mean, he appears to be a pretty nice guy.” Appears being the operative word. (Sept. 14)

Free Agents
New Comedy
8:30-9 p.m., NBC
Adapted from a British series of the same name, the American take on the romance-in-the-workplace sitcom kicks off with PR execs Alex (Hank Azaria), a whiny, newly divorced dad, and Helen (Kathryn Hahn), a lush whose fiancaé died a year ago, hooking up…and then having to face each other in the office the next day. ”We’re trying to follow what would be the next believable step for two people who work together and think it’s a bad idea to get involved professionally and personally, but who are with each other all the time and genuinely like each other,” Azaria explains. Assures exec producer John Enbom (Party Down), ”We’re not imagining that every episode is going to end with them like, ‘Oops! We’ve fallen into bed again.’ They have this overly intimate relationship that carries them through every permutation we can think up.” (Sept. 14)

New Comedy
8:30-9 p.m., ABC
If this show came with a headline, it would say: Teenage Girl May Just Die in the Suburbs. The story follows sarcastic 16-year-old Tessa (Jane Levy) as she moves with her single dad, George (Jeremy Sisto), from Manhattan to the land of Miracle-Gro lawns. ”She’s like Jane Goodall, studying this curious universe of suburbanites,” explains exec producer Emily Kapnek. That means adjusting to pushy neighborhood moms like Dallas (Curb Your Enthusiasm‘s Cheryl Hines), who not-so-subtly suggests that Tessa wear a prettier bra, and watching in horror as her dad joins the PTA and searches for romance behind picket fences. ”There’s tension between George and Dallas,” says Sisto. ”It’s the suburbs! Things are bound to get messy.” (Sept. 28)

America’s Next Top Model: All-Stars
Returning Reality
9-10 p.m., The CW
When fans tune in for ANTM‘s 17th cycle, Tyra’s won’t be the only face they recognize. Fourteen former contestants will be back for the first-ever all-star edition, where favorites (cycle 12’s Allison) and troublemakers (cycle 9’s Bianca) will go smize-to-smize. ”The power of the model over the last 10 years has started to shift to people who are more entertainers, singers, actors, and reality TV stars,” says co-producer Tyra Banks, who will judge alongside her usual panel and guests including Nicki Minaj and Kathy Griffin. To that end, the hopefuls will create a perfume and write a song — and star in its video. Explains Banks, ”If I tried to start modeling now, I wouldn’t have had my career.” (Sept. 14)

Criminal Minds
Returning Drama
9-10 p.m., CBS
The dual return of Paget Brewster and A.J. Cooke to this season of Criminal Minds certainly has fans excited, but the same can’t be said for the return of Brewster’s character Emily to BAU, following her ”death” last season at the hands of terrorist Ian Doyle (Timothy V. Murphy). ”There is some angst and discussion and hurt feelings and feelings of betrayal by some people on the team,” explains Brewster. ”So we do have to address that — as soon as I arrive back from the dead.” In the season 7 premiere, which picks up three months later, Emily emerges from witness protection in Paris when the BAU team find themselves having to work with Doyle. It’s the first of many episodes this season that exec producer Erica Messer says will ”show the team is back together and how the world needs this particular group of superheroes.” (Sept. 21)

Harry’s Law
Returning Drama
9-10 p.m., NBC
Season 2 begins with Harry (Kathy Bates) representing a man (Alfred Molina) accused of brutally murdering his wife. ”She has become the go-to gal in Cincinnati for cases that seem unwinnable,” explains exec producer Bill D’Elia. Because of her newfound reputation, Harry expands her firm by hiring two new associates, played by Mark Valley (Human Target) and Karen Olivo (Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior), who replace Aml Ameen and the soon-to-depart Brittany Snow. She’ll hang on to the shoe store, however, while sharing loft space upstairs with that knucklehead lawyer Tommy (Christopher McDonald). ”He’s in a bid for respectability,” says D’Elia. ”So he has a reason to be around Harry. There is heart to the guy.” (Sept. 21)

Modern Family
Returning Comedy
9-9:30 p.m., ABC
In the season 3 opener, the families get down and dirty…on a dude ranch! ”Mitchell [Jesse Tyler Ferguson] and Cameron [Eric Stonestreet] explore their inner dude as a way of convincing themselves that they’re ready to [adopt] a boy, and the dude-ranch experience leaves them less than convinced,” explains exec producer Christopher Lloyd. Also ahead for the extended Pritchett clan: Manny (Rico Rodriguez) runs afoul of the law, causing problems for Jay (Ed O’Neill) and Gloria (Sofia Vergara); Claire (Julie Bowen) drags Mitch and Cam out for a wild night but ends up on an ”accidental date”; and Phil (Ty Burrell) reconnects with his inventor past by working on his scalp-massaging helmet. ”It has a tendency to pull your hair into it,” notes Lloyd. ”Phil gets into a wrestling match with it at one point.” (Sept. 21)

Happy Endings
Returning Comedy
9:30-10 p.m., ABC
After quietly launching in April, Happy Endings gained steam through word-of-mouth buzz — enough for it to land Cougar Town‘s spot on the fall schedule. ”We’re kind of still a first-year show,” admits exec producer Jon Groff. ”Not that many people are aware of us.” In season 2, we’ll learn why besties Penny (Casey Wilson) and Max (Adam Pally), who’s gay, dated in college; enjoy an ”unconventional baby story” for married couple Brad (Damon Wayans Jr.) and Jane (Eliza Coupe); and meet Penny’s mom, played by Megan Mullally. But the biggest juice probably comes from the fact that Endings picks up on the one-year anniversary of the doomed nuptials of exes Alex (Elisha Cuthbert) and Dave (Zachary Knighton). ”Zachary and I don’t know where it’s headed!” promises Cuthbert. ”The idea is to continue this chemistry.” (Sept. 28)

I Hate My Teenage Daughter
New Comedy
9:30-10 p.m., Fox
Childhood friends Annie and Nikki (My Name Is Earl‘s Jaime Pressly and Tony winner Katie Finneran) — who weren’t exactly popular in high school — are bewildered by the pair of queen bees they somehow spawned. ”Any mother, if they’re being totally honest, has said, ‘I don’t like this,’ ” explains creator Sherry Bilsing-Graham. Adds Pressly, ”Sometimes parenthood is the most amazing thing, and sometimes you want to crawl under the bed.” More daunting than parenting teenage girls? A high-profile time slot following Simon Cowell’s The X Factor. ”There are some things that have been done to the pilot to make us all more confident,” says Pressly, referring to reshoots that included making Annie’s musician ex, Matt (Eric Sheffer Stevens), less pathetic (he now opens for Sheryl Crow instead of playing in a band with high schoolers). ”But are you kidding me? Hell, yeah, we feel pressure.” (Nov. 30)

The X Factor
New Reality
8-9:30 p.m., Fox
”That was like running over 25 cats on the freeway.”

Oh, Simon Cowell, how we’ve missed you. In the year and a half since he’s been off our TV screens, the king of withering critiques has been replaced by American Idol‘s lovey-dovey judging trio and The Voice‘s happily bickering mentors. But with the Stateside debut of his British smash The X Factor, Cowell is not only trotting out the tartness (see: above assessment of one pitch-challenged wannabe), he’s also reuniting with his former tablemate Paula Abdul, who left Idol a year before Cowell called it quits in 2010. The judges on X Factor — a singing competition that features both solo and group acts and no upper age limit — each serve as mentor to a team of contestants. So, as with The Voice, Cowell and Abdul — along with Nicole Scherzinger (who stepped in for singer and U.K. X Factor judge Cheryl Cole partway through filming) and record mogul Antonio ”L.A.” Reid — will be competing against one another as mentors. Which means the pair who loved to hate each other for eight seasons will have even more to fight about. In an exclusive joint interview, the duo talk to EW about their unique TV relationship.

How much were you two in touch with each other after Paula left Idol in 2009?
Paula Abdul Starting from the next day. He called me and said, ”I can’t believe you quit.”
Simon Cowell I didn’t think she was going to quit.
Abdul Chemistry like this comes along once in a lifetime. It’s authentic, it’s transparent, and we live it out on live television. Simon from the get-go started talking about bringing The X Factor to America and wanted to have me be involved. There were lots of stops and starts, but he stayed in touch with me.

So why was it a last-minute drama for you to sign on?
Abdul People made such a big stink about ”Oh, your contract was done at the very last second.” But I was under contract with CBS [which aired Abdul’s Live to Dance]. And that’s the truth.

Your first X Factor ad emphasized a meaner tone, in contrast to new Idol judges Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez, who seem to love everyone. Is that indicative of what your show is going to be like?
Cowell It was not mean. It’s raw. I wanted to show that we had retained our sense of humor. When I saw the first Idol promo, it was ”It’s a new dawn; no one’s going to be mean anymore.” I was watching it like, ”Yeah, thanks. You didn’t say that nine years ago.”
Abdul I was always vehemently [criticized] for being nurturing and nice. Then I leave and it’s cool to be nice.

The X Factor debuted in the U.K. years before the original Dutch version of The Voice. But because The Voice has already aired here, many American viewers are going to think you guys are ripping it off.
Cowell You can drive yourself mad over the comparisons. I knew there’d be elements in Idol that came from X Factor. I knew what The Voice was doing. But genuinely, none of it bothered me.

But between The X Factor, Idol, The Voice, The Sing-Off, and America’s Got Talent, are you worried that we’re reaching talent-competition overkill?
Cowell There’ll be casualties, sure. Absolutely. I don’t look at the show as a format anymore. I try to shoot it as reality — and you’ll see me having a meltdown of meltdowns. But I wasn’t afraid to go, ”This is a complete and utter shambles.” I’m happy to show it.
Abdul You have to be bold. And real. That’s the big difference with this show.

I was in the audience on the first day of auditions, when Cheryl Cole was on the judges’ panel. It seemed to me like she was doing just fine. So what happened?
Cowell I made a decision that she would have been more comfortable working on the U.K. show than the American show. Never said a negative thing about how she was on the show. It wasn’t going to be public; [her return to the U.K. show] was going to be a surprise. Initially she accepted it. We had done the deal, even to the point of giving her my [former] dressing room. Then it all got leaked, and it all got unpleasant. I was dealing with her management, and I didn’t hear from her. We gave her a time period, and when she didn’t call, we had to cut it.

So will she appear on the show at first, and then disappear with no explanation?
Cowell Yeah. I can’t hide it.

The one thing you’ve got that The Voice doesn’t is that vocal groups can compete. How are your group acts?
Abdul It’s a difficult category because there’s a lot of work to do in one act.
Cowell If you’d have asked me six weeks ago, I would have said a disaster. But something happened and we were very proactive toward the end, which you’re going to like.

Did you take members from one group and move them into a different group?
Cowell You’ll have to wait and see. Maybe.

How will you know if you’ve succeeded with X Factor?
Abdul You can’t fixate on an outcome. People say, ”Are you looking for a number of 20 million [viewers]?” I don’t think of a number!

I know you do, Simon.
Cowell It’s very simple: more than anyone else. That’s the aim.

Nicole Scherzinger says you guys are like Sonny and Cher. So who’s Sonny and who’s Cher?
Abdul [pointing at Cowell] Cher.
Cowell [pointing at himself] Sonny. Actually, which one’s alive?

Cowell I’m Cher.
(Sept. 21) —Dave Karger

American Horror Story
New Drama
10-11 p.m., FX
The Harmon family — husband Ben (Dylan McDermott), wife Vivien (Connie Britton), and daughter Violet (Taissa Farmiga) — move to an old Los Angeles house with a creepy neighbor (Jessica Lange) and an even creepier basement. While it sounds like the beginnings of a fairly standard scary movie, it doesn’t even begin to describe how capital-C crazy this Story, created by Glee‘s Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, becomes. ”There’s no place for the word typical anywhere,” says Britton (Friday Night Lights). ”That’s the thing about this show — it sort of defies explanation.” When Horror isn’t trying to scare the pants off you, it’s ripping the pants off its characters: Vivien has sex with a man in a rubber fetish suit, and Ben pleasures himself while being spied on by a badly burned man (True Blood‘s Denis O’Hare) — who, by the way, warns Ben that the house drove him to commit murder. (Star Trek‘s Zachary Quinto will also play a doomed former resident.) Says McDermott (The Practice), ”Some actors were really afraid of the sexuality [on the show]. It didn’t really bother me because I felt like if you’re going to do this, you’ve got to go all the way.” (Oct. 5)

Returning Drama
10-11 p.m., CBS
Wouldn’t it be fabulous if the new guy who joined the graveyard shift were a great crime-scene investigator and a terrific husband and father? That’s exactly what the producers asked themselves when thinking about how to replace Laurence Fishburne’s brooding Raymond Langston. Enter Ted Danson, who will be taking the role of D.B. Russell, an affable anti-geek who was raised in a counterculture environment and now has a loving wife and four kids of his own. ”We didn’t want him to be Grissom. We didn’t want him to be Langston,” explains exec producer Carol Mendelsohn. ”So we started to think how we never had a character who actually found balance between his job and family.” The new gig got hardcore real quick for the Bored to Death star (he’ll remain on the HBO show). ”They sent me to Vegas, and I drove around with the real-deal CSI guys,” says Danson. ”I went to the coroner’s office and saw an autopsy. They were holding somebody’s skullcap while they weighed his brain. I still have to take my eyes out and wash them at night.” (Sept. 21)

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Returning Drama
10-11 p.m., NBC
First, the big news: Christopher Meloni has left the show, which means Det. Elliot Stabler ”will not be on the job” during the show’s 13th season, according to exec producer Warren Leight. So can we expect a mysterious offscreen explosion to claim Stabler? ”His departure will be handled in a realistic way,” promises Leight. ”It can’t be like, ‘He got hit by a bike!’ ” Stepping in for Stabler are two new detectives: Amanda Rollins (Kelli Giddish), a book-smart overachiever, and Nick Amaro (Danny Pino), who works more intuitively. This season, they’ll take on cases inspired by the Arnold Schwarzenegger love-child scandal and the Dominique Strauss-Kahn assault charges. Despite rumors that Mariska Hargitay is leaving, Det. Olivia Benson will appear in every episode to help the new recruits. ”With Stabler, it was good cop, bad cop,” says Hargitay. ”Now I have to be the bad cop, too.” (Sept. 21)

New Drama
10-11 p.m., ABC
Emily VanCamp has made a name for herself playing good girls on TV’s Everwood and Brothers & Sisters. But given that her Revenge character, Emily Thorne, meticulously plots to inflict pain and suffering on a wealthy family who wronged her father, it’s safe to say that VanCamp’s squeaky-clean period is over. ”She’s kind of like a crocodile,” says the actress. ”I imagine her navigating this community of people as this very quiet predator.” The Hamptons-set series, which feels like a throwback to frothy prime-time sudsers like Dallas, opens with one of the characters mysteriously being shot. ”We set it up with ‘Who shot J.R.?’ and then we tell you [who did it] through the course of the season,” says creator Mike Kelley (Swingtown). ”You will have all of the answers to all of the questions that the pilot poses by the 13th episode.” (Sept. 21)

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