March 31, 2008 / 1:48 AM / 9 years ago

Ian McShane fit for "Kings" as NBC hones fall slate

<p>Actor Ian McShane of the show "Deadwood" arrives at the HBO after-party following the 57th annual Emmy Awards at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, California September 18, 2005. Picture taken September 18, 2005. REUTERS/Max Morse</p>

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - From an outlaw to royalty -- “Deadwood‘s” Ian McShane is returning to television as star of NBC’s drama pilot “Kings.”

Sources said NBC is planning to announce series pickups for “Kings,” a remake of “Knight Rider,” the Christian Slater drama “My Worst Enemy,” and “The Philanthropist” during its “upfront” presentation to advertisers on Wednesday.

In line with programming chief Ben Silverman’s affinity for commercial, easily promotable franchises, three of the shows are based on popular concepts. “Rider,” which started as a highly-rated two-hour movie/backdoor pilot in February, is a spinoff from the 1980s series. “Enemy” is a take on “Jekyll & Hyde” with Slater starring as a suburban dad who learns that his alter ego is a spy.

And “Kings” is loosely based on the story of King David. Australian actor Christopher Egan stars as a pure-hearted young warrior who joins the court of the charismatic and authoritative King Silas (McShane).

Meanwhile, “Philanthropist” had been an early favorite of Silverman and his team, even though the project has failed to cast the lead yet. It revolves around a rebel billionaire who helps those in need.

The foursome would join recently renewed “Chuck,” “Life,” “Heroes,” “The Biggest Loser,” “Celebrity Apprentice” and “American Gladiators” on the schedule for the fall season. At its presentation Wednesday -- a full six weeks before its rivals unveil their fall schedules -- NBC also is expected to announce a deal with DirecTV to bring back the modestly rated “Friday Night Lights.” Also shoo-ins to return are “The Office,” “My Name Is Earl,” “Law & Order,” “ER” and “30 Rock.”

Sources say a renewal of “Lipstick Jungle” looks unlikely and that the network is still mulling the future of the Patricia Arquette drama “Medium,” which is in its fourth season.

Year-round programming and development will be a central theme at NBC’s Wednesday presentation, and the unveiled 2008-09 schedule is expected to reflect that. Details about the lineup, which will be presented in a news conference format, are being kept under wraps.

Sources indicate “Chuck” is favored to return to its Monday 8 p.m. slot, followed by “Heroes” and “My Worst Enemy.” Tuesdays will probably have a two-hour “Biggest Loser,” followed by “Law & Order: SVU.” Wednesday is a wild card night, with a new drama likely to debut at 9 p.m. Thursdays will probably remain unchanged, with the two-hour comedy block followed by a renewed “ER.” “Kath & Kim,” which received a six-episode order in February, is a contender for the slot that will be vacated by departing Thursday comedy “Scrubs.” Fridays are in flux, while Sundays will be dominated by the NFL.

Mindful of rushing “Bionic Woman” to air last year with uneven results, sources says the network was recently toying with the idea of taking its time with “Rider” and launching it in midseason, possibly in the coveted post-Super Bowl slot.

NBC also has been approaching advertisers about doing more “green weeks,” with a modest version potentially planned for later this month to coincide with Earth Day and a more expansive version tentatively scheduled for November.

NBC launched a heavily marketed week of green-themed programming and marketing last November under the moniker “Green Is Universal,” but the event was largely overshadowed by the beginning of the writers strike.

NBC is eschewing the usual May upfront extravaganza as a cost-cutting measure and to get the jump on rivals. NBC also will have three days of one-on-one meetings with advertisers, then a larger “spotlight” event May 12 in Manhattan.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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