Fox kicks off an early fall: picks up pair

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Fox Broadcasting got an early start on the fall season Thursday, making series pickups on the new Brad Garrett comedy 'Til Death and the drama Vanished.

NBC also announced fall-season plans Thursday, issuing renewals for all three editions of the Law & Order franchise.

Death and Vanished were generating buzz in the development cycle, and their promise was confirmed when Fox executives watched footage from their pilot shoots, Fox executive VP Craig Erwich noted.

"When you know, you know," Erwich said. "We decided, 'Why wait three weeks when an extra three weeks will only make them better?'"

As the first fruit of the current TV development cycle, Vanished and Death are well positioned for the pick of the litter among available writers, producers, and directors needed to shoot their next 12 episodes.

Garrett (Everybody Loves Raymond) and Joely Fisher (Desperate Housewives) star as a longtime married couple who live next door to newlyweds, played by Eddie Kaye Thomas (Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle) and Kat Foster (The Book of Daniel).

Vanished is a one-hour serialized drama chronicling a conspiracy enveloping the disappearance of a senator's wife. The cast features Christopher Egan (Empire), Gale Harold (Queer as Folk), Joanne Kelly (Jeremiah), John Allen Nelson (24), and Rebecca Gayheart (Nip/Tuck). Fox already had ordered two scripts when it made the pilot order.

Meanwhile, NBC gave an early vote of confidence to Law & Order, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and Law & Order: Criminal Intent. That will bring the original L&O; into its 17th season, keeping it the second-longest-running drama series in TV history, behind Gunsmoke with 20 seasons (1955-1975). SVU will go into its eighth season, and Intent will go into its fifth.

NBC did not divulge how many episodes it will order for each series in 2006-07. The orders come as little surprise, though a question mark still hovers over Intent, which will cede its Sunday time slot to NBC's new NFL telecasts that night beginning in the fall. Intent could get a different time slot or wait to reclaim Sunday in the midseason.

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