Wednesday May 20, 1998

ABC to add 5 comedies, 3 dramas/Milk Duds

Walt Belcher

 ABC will add eight new shows in the fall, including a comedy with the Olsen twins (Mary Kate and Ashley) and a new version of "Fantasy Island."

 The network, owned by Walt Disney Co., announced plans Tuesday for five comedies and three dramas to debut in September.

 Also, ABC's "NFL Monday Night Football" will begin an hour earlier, running from 8 to 11 p.m.

 "PrimeTime Live" will fold into "20/20," which will air on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays with anchors Barbara Walters, Diane Sawyer, Sam Donaldson and Hugh Downs.

 On Sundays, ABC will drop movies at 9 p.m. for "20/20" and the legal drama "The Practice."

 The new comedies:

  "Brother's Keeper" is about a single dad-English professor (William Ragsdale) whose bad-boy brother moves in.

  "The Hughleys" is a Chris Rock-produced series featuring stand-up comic D.L. Hughley.

  "The Secret Lives of Men" is a comedy from Susan Harris ("The Golden Girls") about three divorced male buddies.

  "Sports Night" is about an ESPN-styled cable sports show.

  "Two of a Kind" stars the Olsen twins ("Full House") as complete opposites caught between their single dad and their nanny.

 The new dramas:

  "Cupid" is about a man (Jeremy Piven of "Ellen") who thinks he is the god of love.

  "Mr. Chapel" is about a man (Michael Madsen) who secretly punishes criminals.

  "Fantasy Island" is based on the classic TV series.

 The network renewed "Spin City," "NYPD Blue," "Dharma & Greg," "Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place," "The Drew Carey Show," "Boy Meets World" and "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch."

 Among shows canceled: "Soul Man," "Ellen," "Cracker," "Nothing Sacred," "You Wish," "Teen Angel" and "Something So Right."


 Frog stuff: The WB network, which had tremendous growth in young viewers this season, will expand from four to five nights in the fall.

 WB's fall schedule, announced Tuesday, includes renewals for top draws: "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Dawson's Creek," "7th Heaven," "The Wayans Bros.," "The Jamie Foxx Show," "The Steve Harvey Show," "Sister, Sister," "Smart Guy" and "Unhappily Ever After."

 New dramas include "Charmed," from Aaron Spelling, about three good witches (Shannen Doherty, Holly Marie Combs and Lori Rom); "Felicity," starring Keri Russell as a young Ally McBealish college student in New York; and "Hyperion," starring former teen heartthrob Mark-Paul Gosselaar of "Saved by the Bell" as the head of a computer company at odds with his loser brother (Dylan Neal).

 A new sitcom, "The Army Show," is a modern-day military comedy about a band of misfit recruits. In addition, The WB (WWWA, Channel 32) also picked up a canceled NBC comedy, "For Your Love."

 Milk duds: WTVT, Channel 13, officials say they weren't scared off a story about a controversial milk-producing hormone given to Florida dairy cattle and, to prove it, will air a three-part report on the drug. The report begins on today's 10 p.m. newscast.

 Six weeks ago, two former Channel 13 investigative reporters, Steve Wilson and his wife, Jane Akre, filed a "wrongful termination" lawsuit against WTVT that accused the station of firing them in an attempt to cover up their version of the Posilac story.

 The lawsuit alleges when Akre and Wilson refused - after 10 months and 73 rewrites - to give a favorable slant to Posilac-maker Monsanto, they were fired in December.

 Station officials say Wilson and Akre failed to produce a balanced report. Channel 13 investigative reporter Nathan Lang covers the Posilac story. Part 2 of his report airs on Thursday's 6 p.m. newscast and Part 3 airs on Friday's 5 p.m. newscast.