TV's new stars -- Fran Drescher, Thea Vidale, and Brett Butler are a few new names taking over the tube this fall

By Alan Carter
Updated September 17, 1993 at 04:00 AM EDT

The networks always try to play it safe by banking on familiar TV names — this year’s crop includes Valerie Bertinelli, Harry Anderson, and Judith Light. But each network’s programming chief also bets that a few unproven actors will bring home the dough. Will their picks for this season pay off? You can keep score at home.

Sandy Grushow of Fox has vowed that if ”Bruce Campbell (Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.) isn’t the next TV star, I will eat my desk. The entire company would love to see me be right — but they’re lining up with condiments just in case.” Grushow also dishes out praise for the cast of Living Single, ”four incredibly appealing women America will embrace.”

Last year, CBS’ Jeff Sagansky said Love & War‘s Jay Thomas would be the next Tim Allen. Well, we’ll give Sagansky another year on that prediction. This year he looks to The Nanny‘s Fran Drescher for a ”simple reason — she’s great. Unique, to say the least.”

NBC’s Warren Littlefield, who last year said Mad About You‘s Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt would be the next Sam and Diane (we’ll give him another year, too), this year antes up for the duo The Mommies. ”There is something very primal about their comedy. I saw their stage show, and when it was over you would have thought the Beatles had just performed.”

Over at ABC, Ted Harbert is also putting stock in maternity, extolling stand-up comics-turned-sitcom moms Thea Vidale (Thea) and Brett Butler (Grace Under Fire). ”They both light up a screen, and they both bring a different point of view that makes them real interesting to watch.” (Privately, folks at the other networks agree that Butler is 1993’s shoo-in.) Harbert also thinks viewers will fall for Lois & Clark‘s comely Teri Hatcher and Dean Cain. ”Cain will be especially able to attract young women,” says Harbert, ”and he also happens to be this very nice guy.” We’ll check with you next year, Ted.