February 21, 2008 / 11:21 AM / 10 years ago

Disney's ABC returns prime-time lineup to air

<p>Writer and producer Shonda Rhimes (C) accepts the Image Award for outstanding drama series for "Grey's Anatomy" at the 39th Annual NAACP Image Awards at the Shrine auditorium in Los Angeles February 14, 2008. ABC said on Wednesday that several series knocked off the air by the Hollywood writers strike, including "Grey's Anatomy" and "Desperate Housewives," will return in April but three newer shows will stay sidelined until next season. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - ABC said on Wednesday that several series knocked off the air by the Hollywood writers strike, including “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Desperate Housewives,” will return in April but three newer shows will stay sidelined until next season.

ABC’s scheduling announcement comes a week after members of the Writers Guild of America voted almost unanimously to lift a 101-day strike against major film and television studios, ending Hollywood’s worst labor clash in 20 years.

The walkout halted production on most prime-time dramas and comedies by mid-December, leaving ABC and other networks without fresh episodes once stockpiles of scripts had run dry.

Except for a handful of series kept in reserve for mid-season launches, the networks were forced to fill their schedules with reruns and a glut of strike-proof reality TV and game shows starting in January.

The first strike-idled show ABC plans to bring back is the freshman comedy “Samantha Who?,” starring Christina Applegate as an amnesiac, on April 7, followed by the veteran courtroom drama “Boston Legal” a day later, each with six new episodes, the Walt Disney Co.-owned network said.

ABC’s top scripted show, “Desperate Housewives,” returns to Wisteria Lane on April 13 for the first of five original episodes, to be capped with a two-hour season finale.

“Lost,” the serialized castaway thriller that returned as a mid-season replacement on January 31, will move to a new Thursday time slot on April 24, along with the relaunch of “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Ugly Betty.” Those three shows are all slated to air five new episodes before the season ends.

ABC has decided to hold three new shows -- the supernatural fantasy “Pushing Daisies,” “Grey’s Anatomy” spin-off “Private Practice” and dysfunctional family drama “Dirty Sexy Money” -- until next season.

Two reality shows that took their place during the strike -- “Wife Swap” and “Super Nanny” -- are holding their own on Wednesday nights against the Fox network’s mega-hit “American Idol” and will remain on the ABC schedule for now.

Another mid-season Wednesday offering, Darren Star’s power femme drama “Cashmere Mafia,” aired its last fresh episode last week and will be replaced by the return of “Men In Trees,” a relationship drama-comedy set in Alaska starring Anne Heche.

ABC was the last of the major broadcast networks to unveil post-strike programming intentions.

CBS was first out of the block, announcing plans the day after the strike ended to relaunch three Monday sitcoms on March 17 and to restore several of its powerhouse dramas, including all three “CSI” shows, by early April.

NBC is bringing back its entire Thursday night bloc, including popular workplace comedy “The Office” and veteran hospital drama “ER,” but will keep hit superhero drama “Heroes” off the air until fall.

Fox said Tuesday it has ordered additional episodes of the dramas “House” and “Bones” and of the comedies “Back to You” and “‘Til Death,” to air in the spring and beyond. But the next season of real-time spy thriller “24” will debut next January.

Editing by Steve Gorman and Todd Eastham

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