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CW's new lineup is among TV networks' best


Adhir Kalyan, left, as Raja, and Dan Byrd as Justin in Aliens In America.


BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. After a challenging first year, the CW enters the 2007-08 TV season with the best batch of new series of any broadcast network.

Yes, you read that correctly: None of the CW s new shows are terrible. Some are better than others, but not one is an embarrassment. (The CW airs on WT05-TV, Channel 5 on Buckeye CableSystem.)

Monday night s comedy, Aliens in America, created by Moses Port with David Guarascio, is an amusing look at what happens when an unpopular high school kid gets a live-in Muslim foreign exchange student for a best friend.

We liked the idea of him being the moral compass of the show, Port said of the foreign exchange student. We certainly liked that idea that he is the most spiritual.

Sunday s family drama, Life Is Wild offers a safe haven for former 7th Heaven viewers craving comfort TV. Tuesday-night light drama Reaper offers supernatural laughs as the son (Bret Harrison, The Loop) of Satan (Ray Wise, Twin Peaks) joins the family business. Wednesday s Gossip Girl, based on a popular teen book series, offers soapy relationship drama.

CW Entertainment president Dawn Ostroff said the new lineup includes network-defining series in terms of quality, attitude and style that are intended to appeal to the network s age 18-34 target audience. It might just work. These new shows are certainly deserving of the attention of young viewers.

Some of the network s established reality-show hits will also return, including:

• The experiment has evolved is the tag line for the new Beauty and the Geek (8 p.m. Sept. 18), which returns with the addition of a geeky girl and a studly guy, who has worked as an actor, to the mix of beautiful women and dorky dudes.

• America s Next Top Model will shoot in Los Angeles for its fall cycle and return to New York for the spring edition. The CW has signed host Tyra Banks to stay with the show through the 2009-10 TV season.

• Pussycat Dolls Presents returns for another competition at mid-season, even though the winner of the first one chose to go solo rather than join the Pussycat Dolls, which, as one TV critic noted, sort of made the first round pointless. In the new season, the Dolls will help build a new group called Girlicious.

• Other midseason programs include a full 22-episode run for One Tree Hill and the new reality show, Farmer Wants a Wife, about a country boy who auditions city girls for his hand in marriage.

It s not a show that s very serious, Ostroff said. It doesn t take itself seriously at all. It s more about the city life trying to fit into the farm life.

And, no, the show will not require a civil ceremony.

Shark bites

When CBS s Shark returns for its second season on Sept. 23, it will have a new day and time slot (10 p.m. Sunday; Without a Trace moves back to Thursday night), and some new dynamics among the characters will emerge.

Displaced former district attorney Jessica Devlin (Jeri Ryan) will join the team of Sebastian Shark Stark (James Woods), while actor Kevin Pollak joins the cast as the new D.A.

Certainly there s an energy between these two people, said executive producer Ian Biederman. There s a lot of respect. I think they like each other a lot.

But will they sleep together? I think the potential is there, Biederman said. It will always linger there. There s an attraction between these characters on a number of different levels. So we will just have to see how it goes.

Ryan is hoping the two don t get together, saying, If they actually got together and it became a relationship or it became just an awkward thing one time, that sort of aftermath of the story line just isn t as interesting to me as will they or won t they?

Another change this year, series regular Samuel Page, who played Casey Woodland, has left to make a movie, and it s explained that his character is off working on his father s political campaign.

Smart TV innovation

Some viewers have long complained about Sunday night football games running past 7 p.m. and bumping back the start time of their favorite shows. This fall, they will be able to sign up at to get an alert e-mailed to them or sent to their cell phone alerting them that a delay will happen. Later, a second alert blast will notify them of the correct start time for prime-time shows.

George Schweitzer, president of the CBS Marketing Group, said the network is also working with engineers at TiVo to find a way to send updates to the TiVo program guide so program recordings will adjust to account for football overruns.

Schweitzer said he s also had talks with Comcast about making the same adjustments to Comcast DVRs, but because of technical challenges in the Comcast system, reaching that goal will take longer than it will with TiVo.

Pittsburgh premieres

The Jeff Goldblum film Pittsburgh, a part-scripted, part-reality film, gets its TV premiere on premium cable channel Starz Cinema at 10 p.m. Aug. 26. The cameras follow Goldblum back to his hometown as he stars in a production of The Music Man. Ed Begley Jr., Illeana Douglas, Conan O Brien and musicians Moby and Alanis Morissette also appear in the movie.

Goldblum will host the weekend s programming, which also includes the Dixie Chicks documentary Shut Up and Sing (10 p.m. Aug. 24) and the sports documentary The Heart of the Game (10 p.m. Aug. 25).

Pittsburgh will be released on DVD in September.

Channel surfing

TBS s The Bill Engvall Show premiered with 3.9 million viewers Tuesday, a strong basic cable showing. ... Daily Variety reports ABC is developing a new dance show to complement Dancing With the Stars. That show s judges, Bruno Tonioli and Carrie Ann Inaba, will star in the series, which will feature a greater variety of dance styles. ... Fox has renewed Don t Forget the Lyrics for 13 more episodes.

The Block News Alliance consists of The Blade and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Rob Owen is TV editor of the Post-Gazette.

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