January is a significant month in TV land for two reasons: First, it marks the glorious return of American Idol to the schedule; and, second, it's the time when the networks gather to present their midseason series to journalists at the Television Critics Association's press tour. ABC kicked off the broadcast portion of the festivities on Jan. 14 in Pasadena with news of a potential series finale for Lost, followed by NBC, CBS, The CW, and Fox. Below, a report from part 2 of the winter confab.
NBC The net will help another '80s comedian make a comeback when In Living Color's David Alan Grier hosts the new improv competition Thank God You're Here. NBC Entertainment president Kevin Reilly also renewed Heroes, The Office, My Name Is Earl, and Law & Order: SVU. ''A big goal is to get some tent poles up,'' he said. ''We've got one now [with Heroes].''
CBS Entertainment president Nina Tassler plans to ''throw out the rule book'' and develop buzzy new series. Possibilities include Swingtown, a drama about sexually liberated couples in the '70s, and the musical drama Viva Laughlin (based on the BBC's Viva Blackpool), produced by Hugh Jackman.
THE CW In an effort to pull viewers into Veronica Mars' orbit, the season's final five episodes will be stand-alone, rather than part of a serialized mystery. ''It's a way to experiment...so people aren't intimidated,'' CW entertainment president Dawn Ostroff said. She also revealed that The CW is ''talking'' to Gilmore Girls' Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel about returning for an eighth season.
FOX It's a big year for The Simpsons: They'll celebrate episode No. 400 in May and release their big-screen debut in July. Exec producer James L. Brooks promised ''it's the home team doing the movie,'' and said they're aiming for a PG-13. How's it feel to be TV's oldest living comedy? ''Sadly, many of our fans have died,'' cracked creator-exec producer Matt Groening. ''Luckily, new ones are being born every day.''