NEW YORK — NBC will give viewers a turn-the-page schedule next fall that attempts to erase the memory of this season's failed Jay Leno experiment and another fourth-place finish by presenting new scripted programming each weeknight at 10 p.m.
That 10 p.m. schedule has four new programs and one, "Parenthood," that has only been on the air for a few months. They include a Jerry Bruckheimer drama about catching criminals on the lam, another "Law & Order" spinoff, an unconventional hour-long comedy and a series where Jimmy Smits plays a U.S. Supreme Court justice who quits to return to private practice.
NBC said "Heroes," a cult favorite for a while on Monday nights that faded badly, was canceled. The network had already said it was ending "Law & Order" after 20 years on its schedule.
The network's announcement on Sunday, and presentation to advertisers on Monday, kicks off a busy week when fall television schedules are outlined. It's in advance of the advertising sales period known as the "upfront," in which some observers expect broadcast networks to rebound after some awful years.
Several years of programming on the cheap and the Leno experiment has left NBC intent on going back to old methods to make a comeback. Its executives put the word out to Hollywood creators, many of whom were alienated by Leno taking time away from scripted programming, that it was interested in new ideas.
"We're proud of this schedule," said Jeff Gaspin, chairman of NBC Universal Television. "We think it represents what NBC has been and what NBC wants to be."
NBC ordered 12 new scripted series overall for next season, with seven on the fall schedule and the rest to debut later in the season. Gaspin said it's an indication of the improving economy that NBC has more to spend on programming.
The Smits drama, "Outlaw," shows grudges only go so far when you need programming; it comes from Conan O'Brien's production company. It didn't get a great schedule slot – Friday night – but NBC says it is trying to reverse a trend among broadcast networks to shy away from original programming that night. Smits' character is said to be a playboy and gambler who fights for the "little guy."
Angela Bromstad, NBC's prime-time entertainment president, said the biggest risk was to program the hour-long comedy "Love Bites" on Thursday at 10 p.m. The series is a romantic anthology that stars two women who are the last of their group of friends to get married, and brings in different stories each week.
NBC brought back "Chuck" for Monday nights at 8 p.m., but is launching two other dramas that night. "The Event" resembles Fox's departing "24" in theme, a conspiracy thriller where a man discovers a government cover-up when investigating the mysterious death of his fiancee. "Chase" is the drama co-produced by Bruckheimer and Jennifer Johnson, who are behind the "CSI" series and 'Cold Case."
"Law & Order: SVU" returns on Wednesday, followed by the new "Law & Order: Los Angeles." The change in venues is expected to bring a new cast and stories from the New York based "Law & Order," but NBC had few details on Sunday.
NBC is still in talks with Dick Wolf, producer of the "Law & Order" series, about whether there will be any event marking the end of the original series beyond the previously-recorded May 22 episode. There's also the possibility of a two-hour "Heroes" movie next year for fans to say goodbye.
NBC said it has a commitment to show "The Office" beyond this upcoming season, but Steve Carell isn't signed beyond next season. The network is working two tracks – preparing to continue without him and trying to convince him to stay, Bromstad said.
The Thursday comedy "Parks & Recreation" is off the fall schedule, but is expected to return later in the year, NBC said.
NBC is also planning a 35th anniversary special for "Saturday Night Live."
The network's two other new fall shows:
_"Undercovers," a drama from the "Lost" and "Alias" creator J.J. Abrams. It features two of the CIA's best spies who retired to run a catering business when they got married, then are called back into action.
_"Outsourced," a Thursday comedy about a mid-American novelties company whose call center has been outsourced to India.
_"School Pride," a reality series about communities trying to renovate broken-down schools.
Other new NBC series that will appear later next season:
_"The Cape," a fantasy drama about a framed cop who goes into hiding and becomes a superhero.
_"Harry's Law," a drama starring Kathy Bates and created by veteran Hollywood producer David E. Kelley. Bates is a curmudgeonly lawyer who opens a practice with a younger lawyer.
_"Perfect Couples," a comedy about three couples in search of the perfect relationship.
_"The Paul Reiser Show," a comedy where the former "Mad About You" plays himself, a TV star figuring out what he wants to do next.
_"Friends With Benefits," a comedy from "Arrested Development" creator Brian Grazer, about a group of single friends in their 20s navigating the dating world.