Check out these hot summer TV shows -- New series for July 2004 include ''The Grid,'' ''The Assistant,'' and ''Rescue Me''

By Ken TuckerDan SniersonJosh Wolk and Jeff Jensen
Updated June 11, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT
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The Grid, TNT, JULY 19, 9 P.M.

TNT’s first episodic offering since the comic-book drama ”Witchblade” focuses on a different type of superhero: The four-part thriller follows NSA operative Maren Jackson (”ER”’s Julianna Margulies) and FBI agent Max Canary (”The Practice”’s Dylan McDermott) as they travel from London to New York City to the Middle East to dismantle a terror cell. ”What I was most impressed about,” says McDermott, ”was that it was told in a ”Traffic”-esque way — the Arabs had their view and the CIA had theirs.” Margulies, meanwhile, did some serious homework to prepare for her jargon-heavy role. ”Our executive producer came with files and files of Pentagon stuff that I could look at and immediately give back,” she says. ”And I watched CNN around the clock.” The challenges weren’t entirely academic for McDermott, who developed new respect for the FBI one night in Toronto. ”It was 40 below and I was climbing a ship at midnight on a rope — over and over again. I thought, ‘These FBI guys [really] have to do this.”’ Yeah, but usually only once.

McEnroe, CNBC, JULY 7, 10 P.M.

John Mcenroe hosting a talk ahow on CNBC? YOU CAN’T BE SERIOUS!!! But we are: The rebel tennis legend will serve up a ”freewheeling, somewhat unpredictable” hour of chat on the business news network, covering current events, music, sports, art, and whatever else strikes his sweet spot. ”I think it’s logical because it’s illogical,” he says. ”It’s like, why was I playing tennis? My personality didn’t seem to fit there, either. This has hopefully thrown everyone for a loop.” While the former host of ”The Chair” insists that he won’t be shouting ”Answer the question, jerk!” at evasive celeb guests — ”I [don’t] think they’ll be in the hot seat, but they should feel like it’s at least warm” — we have to ask: Is he using breakaway sets and rubber props just in case things get a little out of control? ”It would be nice to have an area where I could throw things,” says McEnroe. ”That’s actually a great idea. I’m sort of pissed I haven’t thought of it myself.”

The 4400, USA, JULY 11, 9 P.M.

This six-episode sci-fi drama centers on 4,400 men, women, and children, who, says creator — coexecutive producer Scott Peters, ”went missing, some for a few months, some for 60 years. None aged, but whenever they return to earth, they have abilities — powers — they didn’t have before.” Peter Coyote, who knows a thing or two about sci-fi from ”E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial,” plays a federal agent in charge of investigating the 4,400. One of the taken is Michael Moriarty, who returns with the ability to make things shake and tremble when he becomes emotional. Gee, didn’t Moriarty do the same thing on the ”Law & Order” set? ”We’d heard the rumors of Moriarty’s volatile personality,” says Peters, with a laugh, ”but he’s the sweetest man.” Let’s go to the actor himself. ”If I were any happier, I’d be in heaven,” murmurs Moriarty. ”This show has given me inner peace, and it offers my fans a rare Moriarty sighting.”

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