News from the TV upfronts: Get the scoop on the new shows the network will roll out this year, plus details on scheduling for returning shows

At the end of a solid week of blathering and statistics from the networks, we finally — finally! — conclude with Fox’s upfront presentation, hosted by network head Peter Liguori. After a tolerable Family Guy-style opening performed by Guy‘s main voice talents, Alex Borstein and Seth McFarland, Fox was off! And man, do we mean off. As their PowerPoint-esque presentation declared, they’re the ”nework” of ”ineteractive media.” (Too bad the 2006 Scripps National Spelling Bee will be airing on ABC).

Anyway, here’s what they’ve got coming down the pike starting in August:

Prison Break returns Mondays at 8 p.m. with less prison and more break, as we follow Scofield and his fellow cons-on-the-run around byways and backwaters. Then it’s on to Vanished, a ”Da Vinci Code-esque” drama (is there any other kind these days?) about a senator’s wife (Joanne Kelly) who disappears from a swank dinner, igniting a woman-hunt with conspiracies that run all the way up the political food chain to the White House. If you have deep love for Noxzema girl Rebecca Gayheart or Queer as Folk‘s Gale Harold as FBI agents, you’ll be happy to stick around for this one.

Tuesday leads off with Standoff, about a couple of crisis negotiators (Ron Livingston and Rosemarie DeWitt) who are also a couple. It sounds more like a wacky romantic comedy than the touching-your-hearts-through-terror preview we saw would suggest. And speaking of hearts of terror, House follows in the 9 p.m. slot, reaffirming Fox’s emphasis on ”stability,” which we took to mean, Whatever ain’t broke, makin’ grinding noises, and throwin’ off exhaust, we ain’t fixin’.

Wednesday picks back up with our favorite un-couple on Bones. If that’s not enough procedural crime-fighting for you, Fox is one-upping the night with Justice, a behind-the-scenes-of-high-profile-trials drama that puts Alias‘ Victor Garber back to work and makes us wish we’d known all this stuff about jury selection, mock trials, and discovery motions long before O.J. That it’s by Jerry Bruckheimer gives us a little hope — and, okay, interest.

Thursday will be known as Happy Fun Clap-Clap Thursday from now on. No, that’s not Fox’s term for it, but it’s probably loads more sophisticated than whatever they came up with. Up first is Brad Garrett’s return to sitcomland, ‘Til Death. Garrett and Joely Fisher play a long-married couple who live next door to disgustingly romantic newlyweds who still believe in the concept of make-up sex. The preview was actually funny — much funnier than Garrett’s five-minute standup routine at the upfront, in which he managed to insult everyone from CBS honcho Les Moonves, who wasn’t there, to Paula Abdul, who was. Following ‘Til Death is Happy Hour, a reverse Three’s Company in which two wild and crazy dudes live with their oversexed but underloved female roommate. Did we mention that she’s one of the dude’s boss? Did we mention that they sleep together? But, see, that’s where the comedy comes from. After Happy Hour is The O.C. at 9 p.m., which is about to run into 90210 territory for sticking around too long after high school.

If you’re staying put for Friday’s returning Nanny 911 and Trading Spouses: Meet Your New Mommy, we suggest you get out more.

Saturday has that ”stability” label again, with double COPS, America’s Most Wanted, and MADtv coming back. But Fox is dipping its toe into late-night with a half-hour talk show titled, um, Talk Show With Spike Feresten. Who’s Spike Feresten? Spike Feresten is the guy who wrote Seinfeld‘s Soup Nazi episode. Spike Feresten is Juror No. 5 on the Seinfeld finale. Spike Feresten is the guy who bombed on stage today. But, to the delight and relief of all, his show looks much more solid than he did.

Sunday’s all about football, and trust us, you do not want to know how torturous this segment was, as someone actually attempted to make a running joke out of mispronouncing Tostitos. Seriously, please don’t ask. But after the boys play with their balls, The Simpsons returns for its 18th season. Yes, there are people with driver’s licenses for whom there’s never been a year without Homer. Snuggled between him and Family Guy is American Dad at 8:30 p.m, and The War at Home brings up the rear.

At some point during midseason, we’ll also be treated to The Winner, Rob Corddry’s coming-of-age-at-32 sitcom; Mark Burnett and Steven Spielberg’s reality contest On the Lot, which hands out a studio development deal like so much DreamWorks candy; and Duets, Simon Cowell’s version of Singing With the Stars, in which non-singing celebs pair with vocal powerhouses like Chaka Khan to win money for charity.

And as with every Fox upfront since anyone first heard of Cowell, we got to check in with the Idol final two. Good luck to both Katharine McPhee and Taylor Hicks in their music careers, because if they plan on sticking with TV, they’ll have upfronts to look forward to every year, and I just don’t think they’re strong enough.

Fox’s schedule at a glance:


7-8 p.m.
Football overrun or comedy reruns

8-8:30 p.m.
The Simpsons

8:30-9 p.m.
American Dad

9-9:30 p.m.
Family Guy

9:30-10 p.m.
The War at Home


8-9 p.m.
Prison Break
Starting in January: NEW SERIES Standoff (see Tuesday listings)

9-10 p.m.
NEW SERIES Vanished: Drama about the mysterious disappearance of a senator’s wife
Starting in January: 24


8-9 p.m.
NEW SERIES Standoff: Drama about a couple (Ron Livingston and Rosemarie DeWitt) who work together in the FBI’s Crisis Negotiation Unit
Starting in January: American Idol performance show

9-10 p.m.


8-9 p.m.
Starting in January: NEW SERIES Justice (see 9 p.m. listing)

9-10 p.m.
NEW SERIES Justice: Legal drama starring Victor Garber
Starting in January: 9-9:30 p.m. American Idol results show; 9:30-10 p.m. The Loop


8-8:30 p.m.
NEW SERIES ‘Til Death: Relationship comedy starring Brad Garrett and Joely Fisher

8:30-9 p.m.
NEW SERIES Happy Hour: Buddy comedy

9-10 p.m.
The O.C.


8-9 p.m.
Nanny 911
Starting in January: Bones

9-10 p.m.
Trading Spouses: Meet Your New Mommy
Starting in January: NEW SERIES The Wedding Album: Drama about a bachelor wedding photographer (Bruno Campos)


8-8:30 p.m.

8:30-9 p.m.

9-10 p.m.
America’s Most Wanted: America Strikes Back

11 p.m.-midnight

Midnight-12:30 a.m.
NEW SERIES Talk Show With Spike Feresten

AS-YET-UNSCHEDULED NEW SERIES Duets (Simon Cowell-produced reality show in which established music stars sing with celebs outside the music industry); The Winner (comedy about how a loser, played by Rob Corddry, becomes rich and successful); On the Lot (reality competition show featuring aspiring filmmakers)