ABC'S GOING a little bit country this fall.
On Wednesdays at 10, Connie Britton ("Friday Night Lights") will star in the drama "Nashville" as a country-music star whose career is beginning to flag and whose record label thinks the answer might be having her join forces with a younger singer (Hayden Panettiere, "Heroes"), who turns out to be a bit of a schemer. Callie Khouri ("Thelma & Louise") wrote the pilot, which was directed by documentarian R.J. Cutler ("The War Room").
In November, actual country- music star (and sitcom veteran) Reba McEntire joins the network's Friday lineup in the comedy "Malibu Country," playing an aspiring singer freshly divorced from her cheating Nashville-legend husband (Jeffrey Nordling) and starting over again in Southern California, with her mother (Lily Tomlin) in tow.
Moving to Sundays at 9 — the "Desperate Housewives slot — to make room for "Nashville" is one of the season's guiltier pleasures, "Revenge," which will now follow "Once Upon a Time" and lead into "666 Park Avenue," a supernatural drama whose stars include Terry O'Quinn ("Lost") and Vanessa Williams ("Desperate Housewives").
"Sunday night is going to be a battle between good and evil from 8 all the way through to 11," said ABC entertainment-group president Paul Lee in a conference call with reporters Tuesday, a few hours before presenting his 2012-13 schedule to advertisers in New York.
Friday night, meanwhile, is going to be pitched a little bit more to families, Lee said, without actually promising a return to the days of "TGIF," now the province of ABC's Disney Channel sibling. In November, Tim Allen's "Last Man Standing" will move to 8 p.m. Fridays, followed by "Malibu Country" and then "Shark Tank," a show Lee said families have been watching together.
"Last Resort," a much-buzzed-about series from producer Shawn Ryan ("The Shield," "The Chicago Code"), will kick off Thursday nights, a time slot that didn't do much for the now-canceled Ashley Judd thriller "Missing" but that Lee insisted will be a good fit. The drama's stars include Andre Braugher ("Men of a Certain Age") and Scott Speedman ("Felicity"), and it's about the crew of a nuclear sub who are declared rogue enemies of the U.S. after refusing to bomb Pakistan without confirmation of their orders.
Other new shows include: "The Neighbors," a Wednesday comedy about a couple who move into a gated community in New Jersey where the other residents are aliens (of the outer-space variety); and two Tuesday sitcoms premiering in January, "How to Live with Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life)," starring Sarah Chalke, Elizabeth Perkins and Brad Garrett; and "The Family Tools," about a man who takes over his father's handyman business and based on a British series.
The network's ordered three other dramas for later in the season, including a remake of the British soap "Mistresses," with Alyssa Milano and Yunjin Kim ("Lost"); "Zero Hour," a sci-fi thriller starring "ER's" Anthony Edwards; and "Red Widow," a crime drama adapted from a Dutch series by "Twilight" screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg.
Returning (either in the fall or later in the season): "America's Funniest Home Videos," "The Bachelor," "Body of Proof," "Castle," "Dancing with the Stars," "Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23," "Grey's Anatomy," "Happy Endings," "Last Man Standing," "The Middle," "Modern Family," "Once Upon a Time," "Primetime: What Would You Do?" "Private Practice," "Revenge," "Scandal," "Shark Tank," "Suburgatory," "20/?20" and "Wife Swap."
Outta here: "Pan Am," "Charlie's Angels," "Work It," "Man Up," "Desperate Housewives," "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," "Combat Hospital," "GCB," "Missing," "The River," "The Revolution" and "One Life to Live."
Relocating: "Cougar Town," which moves to TBS in 2013. n