The latest news from the TV beat

By Lynette Rice and Adam B. Vary
Updated November 15, 2002 at 05:00 AM EST
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Fill-in Station

The networks have begun axing underperforming series, and now comes the fun part: filling in some gaping scheduling holes. NBC could give its new politico drama Mr. Sterling, starring Josh Brolin, the 8 p.m. Friday slot left by Providence, which sunsets in December. And either Crossing Jordan or Dateline could temporarily cede their 10 p.m. slots on Mondays and Tuesdays, respectively, to make way for the much-talked-about drug-lord drama Kingpin. Over at CBS, a new take on Star Search will likely shine at 8 p.m. on Wednesdays once The Amazing Race 3 wraps this winter, while the sitcom version of My Big Fat Greek Wedding may settle into the 8:30 p.m. Sunday slot recently vacated by Bram and Alice (a post-Everybody Loves Raymond debut is also possible). ABC may put its Dragnet update on Mondays at 9 p.m. once football ends, and the Western Then Came Jones — costarring Half-Pint herself, Melissa Gilbert — could get the Fridays at 9 p.m. slot, where That Was Then crashed and burned. On Fox, the second season of American Idol looks like a good bet for Mondays at 9 p.m., replacing girls club. While hashing out the schedules will be rough, one exec insists change will do the nets good: ”Dragnet has built-in name appeal, Kingpin will have some controversy, American Idol had the big summer ratings, and Greek Wedding has the success of the movie leading into it. Everyone’s got something with hype behind it.”

Summary Action

Call it goodwill TV: The WB has made it possible for viewers to watch a sitcom on another network and still be able to enjoy the final half hour of their dramas airing in the same hour without feeling lost. Two years ago, The WB discovered that ratings for Gilmore Girls would spike on Thursdays once Friends was over. That’s when they began sticking 10- to 20-second recaps at the halfway point so channel surfers could figure out what they’d missed. It worked so well that this year The WB decided to institute the practice for Everwood and Smallville, too. ”It makes it a lot easier for viewers,” says The WB’s marketing copresident Bob Bibb. ”They’re simple and hit the main plot points. It’s a nice way to hold viewers’ hands, to say we’re with you.” Okay, now could you back off? You’re getting too close.

AND SO ON… Fox canceled girls club, but costar Chyler Leigh (Sarah Mickle) will continue playing a lawyer for the drama’s executive producer, David E. Kelley. Leigh has joined the cast of Kelley’s other legal series, ABC’s The Practice, as a young attorney in Lindsay Dole’s (Kelli Williams) new firm. Her debut episode will air early next year…. Ian Ziering will reunite with Beverly Hills 90210 alum Jennie Garth on the Nov. 15 episode of The WB’s What I Like About You. He plays a businessman who needs some good press, and Garth’s Jenny, a publicist, may be just the one to get it for him…. Cheech Marin will appear in the Nov. 27 episode of ABC’s The George Lopez Show as Lopez’s father — sort of. ”I want him to be my father, but he can’t be because he’s gay,” explains George Lopez. ”Maybe 30 years ago, 35 years ago, one night in a drunken stupor, he may have slept with my mother, but the truth is that he did not. He wants me to be the son he never had, and I want him to be my dad, but he can’t.”

Episode Recaps

American Idol

Ryan Seacrest hosts as Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan guide aspiring singers on their way to superstardom.
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