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Prime Time Grows Up

The networks are paying new attention to older audiences: Watch for these veteran faces on hot shows this fall.

— Courtesy of CBS Broadcasting, Inc.

Jimmy Smits


Show:
Outlaw
Network:
NBC
Airing: Fridays at 10 p.m. EST
Premieres:
Wednesday, Sept. 15 (then moves to Fridays)

A dozen Emmy nominations — including one win — don’t lie: Smits is one of TV’s most reliable stars. He’s back this fall as Cyrus Garza, a disillusioned Supreme Court justice who resigns his seat on the prestigious panel to return to private practice. Smits’s most recent starring TV role, 2007’s Cane, didn’t find an audience, but with long-running hits like L.A. Law, NYPD Blue, The West Wing and Dexter on his resume, it’s easy to make the case that Outlaw will.

— Courtesy FOX Broadcasting, Inc.

Jon Voight


Show: Lone Star
Network:
FOX
Airing:
Mondays at 9:00 p.m. EST
Premieres:
Sept. 20

Like Timothy Hutton (Leverage) and Holly Hunter (Saving Grace) before him, Voight is yet another Oscar winner (Best Actor for 1978’s Coming Home) who’s making a late-career crossover to the small screen, having tested the TV waters with a villainous turn a couple years back on 24. In the intriguing drama Lone Star, he’s a filthy-rich Texas oilman who is also the unknowing mark of a long con pulled by his son-in-law, who’s trying to siphon off a few million of his oil money.

— Courtesy HBO

Steve Buscemi


Show: Boardwalk Empire
Network:
HBO
Airing:
Sundays at 9:00 p.m.
Premieres:
Sept. 19

The consummate character actor — Buscemi has made a career out of small parts in movies like Fargo and Reservoir Dogs and memorable TV guest turns on The Sopranos and 30 Rock — finally takes center stage. In Boardwalk Empire, Buscemi plays Atlantic City Treasurer Enoch “Nucky” Thompson, wielding seen and unseen power in the beachside gambling mecca during the Prohibition era. The show’s credentials — it was created by Sopranos scribe Terrence Winter and Martin Scorsese directed the pilot — make it perhaps this season’s most anticipated new series. Given his track record, the bet here is that Buscemi is up to the challenge.

— Courtesy Marni Grossman/CBS

Sharon Osbourne


Show: The Talk
Network:
CBS
Airing:
Weekdays at 2:00 p.m. EST
Premieres:
Oct. 18

It might have been hard to forecast a decade ago when she crash-landed onto the pop-culture landscape as the domineering mom on MTV’s reality hit The Osbournes, but Mrs. Osbourne has settled into a respectable run on television. Having competed on The Apprentice and sat on the judge’s panel on America’s Got Talent, she now joins as the elder stateswoman on The Talk, a mom-centric daytime gabfest. Other women around the roundtable include Julie Chen, Sara Gilbert and Holly Robinson Peete.

— Courtesy CBS Broadcasting, Inc.

Tom Selleck


Show:
Blue Bloods
Network:
CBS
Airing:
Fridays at 10:00 p.m. EST
Premieres:
Sept. 24

Selleck has dabbled in TV in the recent past via guest spots on Friends and Boston Legal, and in the popular Jesse Stone TV movies. But Blue Bloods, a family drama in which Selleck plays New York City Police Commissioner Frank Reagan, marks only his second starring role in a TV show since Magnum, P.I. closed his last case in 1988, and his first since the ill-fated The Closer lasted only 10 episodes back in the late ’90s.

— Courtesy FOX Broadcasting Co.

Cloris Leachman


Show:
Raising Hope
Network:
FOX
Airing:
Tuesdays, 9:00 p.m. EST
Premieres:
Sept. 21

Leachman is a TV icon, stretching back to her days on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and its spin-off Phyllis, in which she starred as the title character. At 84, she’s still going strong — last year she made a surprisingly deep run on Dancing with the Stars, and this fall she’s back on the big screen in You Again. She returns to the small one as well: On Raising Hope she plays Maw Maw, the daft grandmom in a dysfunctional family that takes in a newborn. Playing grannies on Fox sitcoms has been good for Leachman: During her six-season run on Malcolm in the Middle, she garnered Emmy nominations every year, and took home two wins.

— Courtesy of Jake Landis/PBS

Ken Burns


Show:
The Tenth Inning
Network:
PBS
Airs:
Sept. 28 and 29 at 8:00 p.m. EST

Director Burns’s original Baseball documentary enthralled seamheads and non-baseball fans alike when it first aired (all 18½ hours of it) back in 1994. The Tenth Inning (the first nine installments were broken into chapters that matched the innings of a ballgame) will recap baseball’s tumultuous period from ’94 to the present, so expect this four-hour sequel to be as much about performance-enhancing drugs and labor strife as it is about pennants, peanuts and Cracker Jack.

— Courtesy CBS Broadcasting, Inc.

Jim Belushi


Show:
The Defenders
Network:
CBS
Airing:
Wednesdays at 10:00 p.m. EST
Premieres:
Sept. 22

We’re with you: It’s hard to get excited about a new show starring the guy who foisted According to Jim onto our TV platter for all those years. But if you can get past the memories of that inexplicably durable sitcom, you have to admit that Belushi is a fairly likable guy, and The Defenders, which pairs him up with Jerry O’Connell as a pair of Vegas defense attorneys defending all sorts of Sin City baddies, has garnered surprisingly strong buzz.

— Courtesy Michael Yarish/American Broadcasting Companies

Debra Jo Rupp, Kurt Fuller


Show:
Better With You
Network:
ABC
Airing:
Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m. EST
Premieres:
Sept. 22

It’s likely that both Fuller and Rupp look familiar to television audiences: He has had guest roles on hits like CSI, Desperate Housewives, The West Wing and Boston Legal, while she enjoyed a nine-season run as the mom on Fox’s That ‘70s Show. Better With You tracks three couples at different stages of their lives and relationships: Fuller and Rupp play a duo married for 35 years and still recovering from losing much of their savings in the market downturn. That might not sound like a barrel of laughs, but the show has gotten some solid advance notice and looks like it could be a breakthrough for both actors after long careers.

— Courtesy CBS Broadcasting, Inc.

William Shatner


Show:
$#*! My Dad Says
Network:
CBS
Airing:
Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. EST
Premieres:
Sept. 23

If nothing else, the debut of $#*! My Dad Says (which, per network instructions, is pronounced “Bleep My Dad Says”) will mark an historic moment: It’s the first TV show based on a Twitter feed. The popular tweets spawned a book and now this sitcom, which stars TV vet Shatner as the un-PC titular dad whose twenty-something son moves back in with him, apparently causing him to say a lot of $#*!. Expect the batty Shatner of Boston Legal and pitchman fame — but, alas, don’t expect a very long run.

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