NBC's new fall schedule? Well, not really new, but there's more coming

By Mike Hughes

Staring at NBC's
new-season plans, a skeptic might ask: “New what?”

The fall line-up has
exactly three new shows ... one of which is a revival of an old show.

Then again, NBC sees
that as a good thing: Its current season worked; few tweaks were

Besides, networks
avoid letting their best new shows get buried in a fall pile-up. This
past year, NBC introduced two mid-season shows -- “Great News”
and “Taken” -- that will be back this fall; it had two
others,”Trial & Error” and “Chicago Justice,” that are
still undecided.

For the fall, its
lone new shows are:

-- The return of
“Will & Grace,” with the original cast, but only for 12

-- “The Brave,”
with Mike Vogel (“Pan Am,” “Under the Dome”) leading special
military operations.

-- “Law &
Order True Crime: The Menendez Brothers,” which replays a
high-profile 1989 murder case and 1994 trial, with Edie Falco leading
the defense team.

That means producer
Dick Wolf will have four shows this fall – two with “Chicago”
in the title and two with “Law & Order”; he'll add “Chicago
Med” and possibly “Chicago Justice” later in the season.

There were no
surprise cancellations, once “Timeless” got a last-second
reprieve to return at mid-season. “Grimm” had already finished
its final season; also not returning are”Powerless,” “Emerald
City” and “The Blacklist: Redemption.”

Mostly, NBC merely
shifted things around, including moving “This Is Us” and “The
Blacklist” to tough, 8 p.m. spots. The fall line-up is:

-- Monday: “The
Voice,” 8 p.m.; “The Brave,” 10.

-- Tuesday: “The
Voice,” 8; “Superstore,” 9; “The Good Place,” 9:30;
“Chicago Fire,” 10.

-- Wednesday: “The
Blacklist,” 8; “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” 9;
“Chicago PD,” 10.

-- Thursday: “Will
& Grace,” 8; “Great News,” 8:30; “This is Us,” 9; “Law
& Order True Crime: The Menendez Brothers,” 10.

-- Friday:
“Blindspot,” 8; “Taken,” 9; “Dateline,” 10.

-- Saturday: Reruns,
including “Saturday Night Live” at 10.

-- Sunday: Football,
8:20 p.m. ET, with preview at 7.

Then come those
mid-season shows. Returning ones include “Time After Time,”
“Little Big Shots,” “the Wall,” and possibly “Trial &
Error” and “Chicago Justice.” There are also the summer shows,
led by “America's Got Talent,” “American Ninja Warrior” and
the offbeat “Better Late Than Never.”

The new shows aimed
at mid-season are:

-- “Rise,” from
Jason Katims, who had cross-generation success with “Parenthood”
and “Friday Night Lights.” This is based loosely on the true
story of a high school drama teacher; it stars Josh Radnor of “How
I Met Your Mother,” Rosie Perez and Auli'i Cravalho, the teen
“Moana” star.

-- “Good Girls,”
about three suburban women who rob a local supermarket, then face the

-- “Reverie,” in
which a college professor (Sarah Shahi of “Fairly Legal” and
“Person of Interest”) helps people live their reams via virtual

-- Two comedies. In
“A.P. Bio,” Glenn Howerton (“It's Always Sunny in
Philadelphia”) is a self-serving biology teacher. In “Champions”
-- co-created by Mindy Kaling, who will also have a supporting role
-- a gym owner learns he has a teenage son.

-- And lots of
reality shows. Neal Patrick Harris hosts “Genius Junior”; Ellen
Degeneres – who already produces the smart-kids show “Little Big
Shots,” has “Ellen's Game of Games.” Also, “The Awesome Show”
has producers Chris Hardwick and Mark Burnett viewing tech
breakthroughs; “The Handmade Project,” from producers Amy Poehler
and Nick Offerman, views personal craftiness and creativity.

Good news: Syfy will emphasize sci-fi

This is good news, actually. Syfy (the former Sci-Fi Channel) is planning to push its focus on ... well, sci-fi. Here's the story I sent to papers:

By Mike Hughes

Plenty of people, it
seems, love sci-fi but not Syfy. Now the cable channel hopes to
change that.

“We're going back
to our roots and embracing the genre like never before,” said Chris
McCumber, the SyFy Channel president. That will involve:

-- New series. Next
season, Syfy expects to have shows based on DC Comics (“Krypton”)
and a graphic novel (“Happy!”); it's developing ones based on
classics (“Hyperion,” “Brave New World,” “Stranger in a
Strange Land”) and on “Nightflyers,” from the “Game of
Thrones” author.

-- Familiar movies.
Next year, it takes over the oft-aired Harry Potter and Marvel films.

-- Attitude, which
is first: A June 19 “re-brand” will have a new logo and will
emphasize a Website (www.syfywire.com)
that McCumber hopes will be the all-purpose science-fiction
destination. Then comes daily coverage of the San Diego Comic Con
(“that's our Super Bowl”) on July 20-23 and a build-up to the
channel's 25th anniversary Sept. 24. Aferward, “31 Days
of October” emphasizes the scary side of Syfy.

Originally, this was
the Sci-Fi Channel, a companion to the USA Network. Both joined NBC's
cable world in 2004; in 2009, the name became Syfy and the approach
softened, with reality shows and some movies with little
science-fiction connection.

Then sci-fi soared
in movie theaters, but Syfy slipped. Like many cable networks, it's
seen a decline: The Variety trade paper says Syfy averages 355,000
viewers (down 22 percent in two years) and lists 23 channels that
have more.

So nowit returns to
its roots: It will keep some reality shows (“Face-off” and
“Cosplay Melee”) and some silliness. “'Sharknado' will always
have a place at Syfy,” McCumber said

But instead, he
emphasizes the current shows -- “The Expanse,” “The Magicians,”
“Twelve Monkeys” -- that are steeply ambitious ... and very


Wanna watch food shows? Settle in (and bring some snacks)

If you scroll down to the next story, you'll see a fun view of American food, via two master chefs. Along with that, however, I also sent papers a sampling of TV food shows. Here it is:

By Mike Hughes

Television is
stuffed with food shows these days – so many that viewers might
have little time to eat, much less cook. Here's a current sampling:

On PBS (check local

-- “American
Masters” profiles May 19 (James Beard at 9 p.m., Julia Child at 10)
and May 26 (Jacques Pepin at 9, Alice Waters at 10). The 10 p.m. ones
are reruns.

-- “The Great
British Baking Show” starts its season Friday, June 16.

-- Many other shows
appear on daytime and weekends, often on digital channels.They are
reruns and new shows, with Martha Stewart, Jacques Pepin, Lidia
Bastianich, Aaron Franklin, Ming Tsai, Nick Stellino, Pati Jinish and
many more.

On Fox

-- “MasterChef
Junior” has a two-hour season-finale May 18.

-- “MasterChef”
stars its season May 31; it will be 8 p.m. Wednesdays, followed at 9
by the new “The F Word” -- a competition aired live in most time

-- “Hell's
Kitchen” returns next season. All four shows feature Gordon Ramsay;
this season's non-Ramsay show (“My Kitchen Rules”) had so-so

Other broadcast

-- Several have
short-run competition shows. Most recently, ABC had the Christmastime
“Great Holiday Baking Show.”


Weekday shows that
often have a strong food interest include:

-- “The Chew,” 1
p.m. (noon PT), ABC.

-- “Rachael Ray,”
syndicated to stations; check local listings.

-- “Home and
Family,” 10 a.m., Hallmark, with reruns at noon.

On cable

-- The Food Network
is a staple. A Variety trade-paper list of 113 cable channels puts it
at No. 1 in homes (92.9 million) and No. 14 in average viewers

-- The Cooking
Channel, its sister channel, is in 64 million homes and averages
91,000 viewers.

-- On Bravo, “Top
Chef” recently finished its 14th season. “Recipe For
Deception” and Graham Elliot's “Going Off the Menu” aren't
currently on the schedule.

-- Anthony
Bourdain's “Parts Unknown” is 9 p.m. Sundays on CNN, rerunning at
midnights. His previous shows rerun often on the Travel Channel.

-- And much more.


American food? It's the best ... or the worst ... just ask the experts

PBS viewers can soon catch a couple of nights of strong, food-oriented profiles. There are terrific new hours on James Beard (May 19) and Jacques Pepin (May 26), paired with reruns on, respectively, Julia Child and Alice Waters. That combination, however, leads to a fun and fascinating subject -- the state of American cooking, good or bad. Here's a story I sent to papers; next, I'll have an expanded list of TV-food shows.

By Mike Hughes

Sure, we hear a lot
about French food – or Italian or Greek or more. They're said to be
quite tasty.

But what about
American food ? It's the worst ... or the best ... or both. Just ask
the master chefs featured in some fascinating PBS profiles this

Americans “are
thinking that food should be cheap and fast and easy,” Alice Waters
said. “And that it's OK to eat in the car. We are not concerned
about who is in the kitchen or where the food came from.”

Then again, we have
immense variety and potential. Just ask Jacques Pepin about his
native land.

“In France, people
eat French 99-and-a-half percent of the time,” he said. The same
sort of monotone exists in Italy or Spain or beyond, he said ... but
not here. “There are 24,000 restaurants in New York City. This is
absolutely amazing .... You can go to a Swahili restaurant or Turkish
or French.”

Some Americans
develop broad palates. Now they're inundated with food-oriented
shows, books and talk. “In our time of political correctness,
that's probably the only thing we can talk about,” Pepin said.

PBS has been big on
this for more than a half-century, said program director Beth Hoppe,
“from Julia Child to Martha Stewart” to “The Great British
Baking Show,” returning next month.

And now it has big
competition – especially from Fox, Bravo and two full-time cable

Some shows have an
American/British spin – chaos, competition and a ticking clock.
“This is not what cooking is all about,” Pepin said. “Cooking
is about being together, about love, about sharing.”

Waters agreed.
“Cooking really is something that can be very meditative.”

Now PBS is profiling
some of the masters on May 19 and 26. That includes Pepin, 81 (in a
new hour), Waters, 73 (in a rerun) and two early stars – the late
Julia Child and James Beard.

These were giants,
physically – Child was 6-foot-2, Beard was 6-3 and sometimes topped
300 pounds – and in impact. “Even though his presence was
intimidating, he had a way of really putting you at ease,” said
Beth Federici, who made the Beard film. “He appreciated food so

He could spend hours
preparing it or eating it or simply talking about it, she said. “He
really was talking about farm-to-table as early as 1938 ,,,. He grew
up in Oregon (and) just wanted the rest of the country to know that
you don't have to get your mushrooms from France.”

That was at a time
when most Americans hadn't embraced the “foodie” notion. “I
think that we are just learning how to cook in this country,”
Waters said.

She didn't grow up
around any food traditions; then, at 19, she went to France. “It
was a slow food culture,” Waters said. “People went to the market
twice a day to get food, and they always ate with their families.
They came home (from work), the kids came home from school.”

Pepin missed that
era because he was growing up during World War II, with his father
fighting in the Resistance. His mother sent him away to a farm, where
he drank milk fresh from the cow. “That is (my) first remembrance
of true food.”

Later, as an
American dad, he would re-create the French style of dining. “We
did spend an hour, an hour and a half at night, having dinner .... If
you don't do that, you never speak to the kid.”

Also in the French
style is his daily routine. “I don't really (plan) the cooking
before I go to the market,” Pepin said. “I never know what I'm
going to find.”

Waters agrees. “I
think the biggest mistake is to begin with a recipe .... I go to the
market first, to the farmers market, and then I begin to gather these
ingredients. And then I look in the book, to see how somebody else
has cooked those ingredients.”

This is the European
approach to food – except that she does it in California and he
does it in Connecticut. He's a French chef in his 58th
year in the U.S. -- where, he points out, he's “married to a woman
born in New York from a Cuban father and a Puerto Rican mother.”

And that, perhaps,
defines the diversity of American food.


Just a question

Report: Trump's New York penthouse is actually a third of the size he says it is

Did you ever notice how words that start with "p" tend to be interchangable? This is a headline on aol.com; I'm fairly sure it would work if someone changed the word "penthouse" to "penis."