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Fox hinges schedule around ‘American Idol’

Few changes to fall season, but the shuffle begins come January
/ Source: The Associated Press

Brad Garrett’s return to domestic comedy and two new thrillers are among the few changes on Fox’s fall schedule as the most popular network for young viewers pledged stability for next season — as much as it can muster.

Garrett, who took a year off from TV after playing the put-upon brother on “Everybody Loves Raymond,” stars in “‘Til Death” as half of a long-married couple that tries not to let their cynicism infect the newlyweds next door.

Ming-Na of “ER” plays an FBI agent trying to solve a missing person case in the new serial “Vanished,” while “Standoff” is about two FBI crisis negotiators who are a team professionally and romantically.

Otherwise, the schedule Fox revealed Thursday contains 16 returning shows that will appear on the same nights they did this season, said Peter Liguori, network entertainment president.

“We were really able to build a schedule that has strength and incredible stability across the board,” Liguori said.

Stability is relative, however, considering the two big events that guide Fox’s executives. They must schedule around baseball playoffs and the World Series in the fall, which makes it difficult to launch new shows, then completely rearrange things when “American Idol” returns in January.

As a result, Fox (owned by News Corp.) released pre- and post-January schedules where every night except Thursday and Saturday were different.

Like this season, “24” will return in January and run uninterrupted, while “Prison Break” will take a long break in midseason.

The long-running comedy “Bernie Mac” was canceled, as was “Stacked.” “That ’70s Show” and “Malcolm in the Middle” both ended their runs this month. Fox hasn’t decided whether the reality show “Unan1mous” will be back, Liguori said.

Fox will also premiere two new shows in the fall: the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced drama “Justice,” about a team of lawyers with an expertise in forensics, and the comedy “Happy Hour,” about a suddenly single youth in Chicago.

Two other new shows will premiere in midseason: “The Winner,” a comedy with Rob Corddry of “The Daily Show” playing a man who went through an extended adolescence (though it has no time slot yet), and “The Wedding Album,” a drama that looks at marriage through the lens of a lothario wedding photographer.