NBC Makes Whoopi, ABC Saves 'Practice'

05/13/2003 01:15PM

Whoopi Goldberg and Alicia Silverstone -- as well as a British "Friends"-like show -- is how NBC will plan to woo viewers next season, according to the network's fall preview staged for reporters and advertisers in New York Monday.

"ER" will also get to turn 12, with NBC renewing the medical show through 2005-06.

Goldberg, 47, will star in the Tuesday-night comedy "Whoopi," as an ex-diva who runs her own small hotel in New York, where she employs an Iraqi concierge who cracks jokes about weapons of mass destruction, reports The New York Times.

Silverstone, 26, will play a divorce lawyer who moonlights as a matchmaker, and Ryan O'Neal will star as her father in "Miss Match," reports the Associated Press. Other new NBC shows will also star John Larroquette, Rob Lowe and James Caan.

But the heaviest spotlight is meant to fall on "Coupling," based on a 3-year-old British hit about six singles who discuss their relationship problems (sound familiar?) and which is due to air Thursdays right after "Will & Grace."

Over on ABC, there will be return of a "TGIF"-themed slate of sitcoms on Friday, says the Hollywood Reporter, with the hottest of the crop looking to be "It's All Relative," which sounds an awful lot like the movie "The Birdcage."

It's about a woman raised by a gay couple who falls for a fellow from an ultra-conservative family.

But the big news is that, despite rumblings of cancellation and grumblings by producer David E. Kelley about the network's handling of the show, "The Practice" will be back -- in its original timeslot, Sundays at 10 p.m., after this season's disastrous move to Mondays at 9.

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