Spinoff of "The Office" highlights new NBC shows

Wed Apr 2, 2008 7:44pm EDT
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By Paul Thomasch and Steve Gorman

NEW YORK/LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - NBC will launch a spinoff of its popular workplace comedy "The Office" following the broadcast of the National Football League's Super Bowl championship next February, the network said on Wednesday.

The announcement came as NBC unveiled its upcoming programming lineup, including plans to bring back the acclaimed hospital drama "ER," which launched the career of movie star George Clooney, for a 15th and final season next fall.

Another returning show is the low-rated but critically acclaimed series "Friday Night Lights," a drama centered on football in a small Texas town that will be back next winter.

Among new shows set to debut next season in a prime-time schedule heavy on fantasy and action fare is a remake of the 1980s hit "Knight Rider," a series titled "Merlin" and a modern warrior drama called "Kings," inspired by the themes in David and Goliath.

Other highlights include new dramas "The Philanthropist," about a renegade billionaire who uses his wealth to help people, and "My Worst Enemy," starring Christian Slater as a suburban dad who lives a secret life as a spy.

NBC Entertainment Co-Chairman Ben Silverman, hired last year to help the network recover from a long ratings slump, said we wanted to bring "inspirational, heroic, escapist" drama to the schedule.

"We've watched a lot of dark stuff not work -- and we've learned from that," he said.

NBC, majority-owned by General Electric Co, took the wraps off its programming plans six weeks ahead of the other major broadcast networks, saying it wanted to give advertisers time to plan long-term campaigns and build their marketing around the programs.   Continued...

<p>Actor Steve Carrell is shown in a scene from NBC's "The Office" in this publicity photo released to Reuters April 2, 2008. NBC will launch a spin-off of the popular workplace comedy following the broadcast of the National Football League's Super Bowl championship next January, the network said during their upfront event in New York April 2, 2008. REUTERS/Chris Haston/NBC/Handout</p>