Sean Hayes, JJ Abrams, Minnie Driver Fit In NBC's Plans For New Shows Next Season

The dapper Sean Hayes at the 64th Annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall in NYC on June 13, 2010 The dapper Sean Hayes at the 64th Annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall in NYC on June 13, 2010

Sean Hayes, Parker Posey, Minnie Driver and Gillian Anderson will have prominent roles in new television series that NBC has decided to air next season.

The network said Thursday that it had ordered five new series, in advance of its annual schedule announcement Sunday, when it will detail where the rookie and returning shows will be placed on the schedule.

NBC also said that it has renewed “Parks and Recreation,” the comedy that gets much critical respect but generally poor ratings.

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Four sitcoms are being canceled, the network said: “Up All Night,” '‘Guys with Kids,” '‘1600 Penn” and “Whitney.”

The long-struggling network had a strong fall this season behind NFL football and “The Voice” but tumbled in midseason and recorded some of its worst ratings ever.

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NBC’s biggest hope for next season is its comedy starring Michael J. Fox, which was announced in the winter. He’ll play a sportscaster with Parkinson’s disease who is returning to work, much like Fox is an actor with Parkinson’s who is returning to series television.

Hayes, the former “Will & Grace” actor, stars as a gay divorced dad in “Sean Saves the World,” juggling work responsibilities with raising a 14-year-old girl. The series, one of three new comedies NBC announced Thursday, is from Hayes’ production company and has the veteran sitcom hand James Burrows as an executive producer and director.

Posey plays a divorced mom in “The Family Guide,” with an 11-year-old son who had always been his blind father’s guide but is replaced by a guide dog named Elvis.

The third comedy ordered by NBC is an adaptation of the Nick Hornby novel “About a Boy.” Actor Will Freeman is the “ultimate man-child” who bonds with the 11-year-old son of a needy, vegan single mom played by Driver.

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Brand-name producer J.J. Abrams (“Lost,” '‘Alias”) already has “Revolution” on the NBC schedule. The network said it will also add “Believe,” about a young girl coming to grips with superpowers like levitation, controlling nature and predicting the future.

Anderson, who made her name on “The X-Files,” is a featured actor on “Crisis,” about a bus full of high school students who are the children of Washington elite and are kidnapped.

NBC’s series pickups came a day after Fox announced the new series it will introduce next season. Networks used to try to keep such news a secret before announcing their schedules to advertisers. (Those meetings are all scheduled for next week.) But word often leaks out beforehand, so some of the networks are trying to take control of that process this year.

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