NBC Bets on '20 Good Years'


NBC has all but removed the speculation about which of its pilots are making the cut for its 2006-07 schedule.

The network has given five more shows the green light for next season, the showbiz trade papers say: the comedies "20 Good Years" and "The Singles Table" and dramas "Friday Night Lights," "Heroes" and "Raines." The quintet of shows will join three previously announced pickups, "Kidnapped," "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" and "The Black Donnellys."

Still hanging is "Saturday Night Live" head writer Tina Fey's comedy, which like Aaron Sorkin's "Studio 60" is about the backstage workings of a sketch-comedy show. Fey's series is still considered a prime contender, but the trades report that NBC is still finalizing details of a deal.

John Lithgow ("3rd Rock from the Sun") and Jeffrey Tambor ("Arrested Development") star in "20 Good Years," which is about two middle-aged men who set out to make the most of their impending golden years. Its producers include "Cosby Show" veteran Michael Leeson and Marsh McCall ("Just Shoot Me," "Modern Men").

The other comedy, "The Singles Table," comes from "Grounded for Life" creators Mike Schiff and Bill Martin. It's about five people who meet at a wedding and become friends.

"Heroes," a two-hour pilot from "Crossing Jordan" creator Tim Kring, has gathered a sizable amount of buzz in the past couple of weeks. It's about a group of people who discover they have superpowers; the cast includes Greg Grunberg ("Alias"), Ali Larter ("Varsity Blues," "Final Destination 2") and Milo Ventimiglia ("Gilmore Girls").

"Friday Night Lights," based on the book and movie of the same name, follows high school football players and their coach (Kyle Chandler) in a small Texas town. Peter Berg, who directed and co-wrote the movie, did the same duties on the pilot, which will doubtless receive heavy promotion during NBC's Sunday-night NFL broadcasts in the fall.

Jeff Goldblum plays the title character in "Raines," an offbeat cop who communicates with the dead victims in his cases. It comes from "Boomtown" creator Graham Yost.

With most of the pieces in place, it remains to be seen how NBC will arrange them. There was talk earlier this week that the network would move "ER" from the Thursday-night berth it's held for 12 years, but that seems to have died down some. The network will likely have spots to fill on just about every weeknight.

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