The Season of the STAND-UPS

On the fall lineup, you don't have to be a star to get a showcase

It's the time of year to feel sorry for the TV networks. Each fall, the Big Three manufacture a fresh batch of shows and try to generate some new-season excitement, and each year the job gets tougher. The audience wants something different; critics clamor for "innovation." But how many new concepts are left in a cable-saturated world where viewers have seen everything -- and seen it all over again in reruns? Judging by a fall crop dominated by play-it-safe family sitcoms, not many.

There are always, however, new stars. TV's creative food chain lately has been turned upside down. Producers once...

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