There had been speculation the show might be canceled, but ABC renewed it and returned it to its familiar time slot, Sunday at 10 p.m. The new lineup -- announced at Radio City Music Hall -- also features the return of TGIF, ABC's long-running Friday night comedy franchise.
ABC Entertainment Chairman Lloyd Braun and Entertainment President Susan Lyne revealed the network's plans for the upcoming prime time season at the "upfronts" -- the annual meetings with advertisers at which the major networks announce their programming schedules and pre-sell as much advertising time as they can.
The 2003-2004 prime time schedule will add four new comedies and three new dramas. Plans also call for two new dramas at midseason. Lyne said ABC's scripted shows reflect "the lives and values" of the network's viewers.
"While many networks have struggled with comedy development, we believe we've found our comedic voice," she said.
ABC is returning all of its scripted comedies from the current season -- including "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter" and "George Lopez." Returning comedies also include "According to Jim," "Life with Bonnie" and "My Wife and Kids."
The addition of four new comedies gives ABC 10 comedies in 2003-04 -- more than any other network.
The new comedies are: "Back to Kansas"; "Hope & Faith"; "I'm with Her" and "It's All Relative."
"Back to Kansas" stars Breckin Meyer ("Rat Race") as an only child from the big city who marries into a huge small town family. "Hope & Faith" features Faith Ford ("Murphy Brown") and Kelly Ripa ("All My Children," "Live with Regis and Kelly") as sisters -- one a stay-at-home mom, the other a Hollywood celebrity who moves in with her sister's family to take refuge from a career crash.
"I'm with Her" -- from the producers of "Smallville" -- was inspired by writer-producer Chris Henchy's real-life marriage to Brooke Shields. David Sutcliffe stars as a high school teacher whose life is changed when he falls in love with a celebrity (Teri Polo of "Meet the Parents").
"It's All Relative" -- executive produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron ("Chicago") -- is a culture-clash comedy about a middle class Irish Catholic boy engaged to a Harvard student. His parents are old fashioned -- hers are a couple of well-off gay men.
"The Practice" is returning to its Sunday night time slot one season after it was moved to Monday nights -- a move that prompted a negative reaction from series creator David E. Kelley. There had been speculation in recent weeks that Kelley was preparing the cast and crew for the possibility that the series would end after the current season, its seventh.
Hour-long dramas "Alias" and "NYPD Blue" were also renewed.
The new dramas are "10-8," "Karen Sisco" and "Threat Matrix."
"Threat Matrix" imagines an elite task force within the new Department of Homeland Security, charged with protecting America from terrorist threats.
The network has lined up "Line of Fire" and "Stephen King's Kingdom Hospital" for midseason.
"Line of Fire" -- executive produced by writer-director Rod Lurie ("The Contender") -- is about the never-ending war between the FBI and organized crime. "Stephen King's Kingdom Hospital" is set in a hospital where a brilliant surgeon lives in the basement, a security guard is nearly blind and a nurse routinely faints at the sight of blood. Horror writer King describes the show as a cross between "ER" and "The Shining."
Lyne announced that "The Bachelor" will return with Bob Guiney ("The Bachelorette") as the center of attention. Also, ABC will devote four hours to the wedding of "The Bachelorette," Trista Rehn, and the man she chose on the show, Ryan Sutter.
"The Wonderful World of Disney" is being moved from its Sunday night time slot to Saturdays at 8 p.m.