By Melissa Hunter
The major TV networks have announced their Fall lineups, unveiling a new freshman programming class of megahit hopefuls. With them comes a few new primetime faces, along with a few stars we already know and love. Here's our look at several celebs who we'll be getting to know better in the Fall.
Michelle Trachtenberg in "Mercy": She's been seen trolling around the streets of Manhattan as Georgina Sparks on "Gossip Girl," but Michelle is trading in her couture for scrubs next season in NBC's "Mercy," a drama about a group of nurses at a New Jersey hospital. From a heartless socialite to a sensitive newbie nurse? Definitely a transformation we'd like to see more often. (Paris, that was our less-than-subtle hint)
Ashlee Simpson in "Melrose Place": Ashlee's been a tween reality star, a teen pop star, a young Hollywood mom star, and now she'll be starring in her own reheated nineties drama (finally!). The "Melrose Place" remake has been in the works for quite some time (probably ever since the show was canceled), and now we can see what happens (yet again) on a street in Los Angeles populated only by twenty-something sexy singles bent on self destruction. You see, everywhere else has rent control, but LA just sticks to hotness control. Modeling portfolio is required when applying as a renter in West Hollywood. True story.
Jenna Elfman in "Accidentally on Purpose": Long before "Lost," Jenna Elfman was running her own Dharma initiative, bringing hippie hilarity to her titular role on "Dharma and Greg." In "Accidentally on Purpose," she plays a more grown up career woman who gets pregnant (accidentally, I'm guessing) by a much younger man. From there, it's unclear what will happen, but I have a hunch that hilarity will ensue.
Mischa Barton in "The Beautiful Life": Mischa Barton is playing a (gasp!) model on the Ashton Kutcher-produced show, which revolves around a group of pretty young things living together in a co-ed complex in New York. Mischa had reportedly turned down a role on "Melrose Place" as she wanted more mature roles (because "Melrose Place" is a show about pretty people living on a street together in Los Angeles whereas "The Beautiful Life" is about exceptionally pretty people living in an apartment complex in New York together). You see, they're actually quite different.
LL Cool J and Chris O'Donnell in "NCIS: Los Angeles": Pacific Ocean pirates beware: LL Cool J and Chris O'Donnell are fighting for justice in the Los Angeles waters. Okay, maybe there aren't pirates in this show (though there really should be), but these guys are starring in the "NCIS" spin-off on CBS this fall. They might very well be the most lovable crime-fighting duos around. And if LL Cool J rides around on a motorcycle toting Chris in a side car dressed in a Robin cape, they've got my vote.
Rebecca Romijn in "Eastwick": Rebecca parts ways from "Ugly Betty" to headline the modern retelling of "The Witches of Eastwick," where she plays a suburban housewife who discoveres she has mystical powers (along with two of her friends). Sounds like a mashup of "Deperate Housewives," "Charmed," and "Bewitched." Derivative? Maybe. Good thing America is so easily spellbound by some pretty witch ladies.
Ian Somerhalder in "Vampire Diaries": What an odd coincidence. It's as though TV producers are trying to get in on some of that sweet "Twilight" tween vampire sexiness heat. Wait, that's exactly what they're doing. Oh, Hollywood! The show stars Ian Somerhalder of "Lost" fame and up-and-comer Paul Wesley (who just so happens to have the Robert Pattinson pout on lockdown). Sounds like some good old fashioned blood-sucking tween hysteria to me.
Courtney Cox in "Cougar Town": Since the bygone days of Monica Gellar, Courtney has yet to strike TV gold again. In fact, the "Friends" curse seems to afflict the entire cast, none of whom have starred in a show show that's lasted for more than two seasons (with the exception of Aniston, who continues to co-star in a different kind of drama). So when you're working against the odds, it's probably best to go with a safe bet: suburban female sex fiends. Doesn't sound too exciting, but there are bound to be some sexy, shirtless, and deeply mysterious pool boys to keep her (and us) occupied.
Jane Lynch in "Glee": "Glee," which aired a sneak preview last week, stars comedienne Jane Lynch from "Two and a Half Men," "40 Year Old Virgin," and Christopher Guest movies, among other comic gems. A satirical take on the "High School Musical" genre, the preview has received rave reviews thus far. If Disney has taught us anything, it's that you really can't go wrong with pretty cheerleaders and football players who break into song.
Wanda Sykes in "The Wanda Sykes Show" (working title): After Wanda hosted the White House Correspondents' Dinner, she proved she is the queen of telling it like it is. So it comes as no surprise that someone was bound to give her a show where she does just that. Fox will be airing her own irreverent late-night news show on Saturdays this fall.
Kelsey Grammer in "Hank": Kelsey is an old hand at the TV game, and a new sitcom with him is now a pretty standard part of any upcoming TV line-up. This time he plays an industry big-wig who loses his job. If that logline doesn't sound terribly inspired to you, let's just say: "Kelsey Grammer. Upper-class guy. Gets knocked down a peg. Laugh track." Done and done.
Julianna Marguiles in "The Good Wife: Julianna Margulies returns to primetime in "The Good Wife," about a woman who is forced to restart the law career she gave up to start a family. This would be all well and good if it weren't due to the fact that her husband was sent off to jail for political corruption charges (and a sex scandal to boot). Not only is it exciting that Nurse Carol Hathaway is returning to the small screen, but Mr. Big, i.e. Chris Noth, is playing her husband. Let '90s nostalgia commence.