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TV Upfronts: What’s New on ABC

The cast of Private Practice.Photo by Getty Images

ABC gloated. The Fray performed. October Road got renewed. Two out of three ain’t bad.

At its upfront presentation to advertisers yesterday, ABC pretty much had them at “Hello,” since the “Hello” was delivered by Justin Suarez, the tap-dancing show-tune-loving preteen nephew of Ugly Betty. In an opening number, he was flanked by a chorus line of high-kicking showgirls in red “Guadalajara” ponchos.

In adding a dozen new fall shows to its lineup — many of them from the producers and directors of its current hits — the network pretty much stuck to its existing ratings-grabbing strategy: upscale yuppie soaps starring gorgeous people in glamorous jobs who are prone to very bad choices. In other words, a good strategy. So Tim Daly, freshly dead in The Sopranos, becomes the love interest for Addison in the lush-looking L.A.-based Grey’s Anatomy spinoff Private Practice (Taye Diggs is in it, too). In Dirty Sexy Money, Peter Krause, the late Nate of Six Feet Under, will star with Donald Sutherland as the consigliere of some inviting-looking New York crime dynasty. And in a new comedy Sam I Am, Jean Smart plays the bitchy mother of amnesia victim Christina Applegate and … do we even have to finish this sentence, or do you just want to know when it’s on? (Mondays, 9:30 p.m.) Also, the Geico “Caveman” gets a sitcom, Oprah will give away money, Shaq will help overweight kids, and there’s a great blight of a show just called Fat March.

ABC filled out its presentation (and lost the crowd) with a live bingo game and a high-school marching band. Jimmy Kimmel also took swipes at the departing Rosie O’ Donnell and at rival nets. “ABC has announced an ending date for Lost,” he said. “CBS has similar plans for Katie Couric.” But “the important thing is this: Regis is alive and Paris Hilton is going to jail.”

You gotta love ABC, Kimmel concluded. Who else would put an amputee on a dance show? —Alexandra Peers

TV Upfronts: What’s New on ABC