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Fall brings new shows, streamers, chance of bigger TV tabs

LYNN ELBER

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Intrigued by a drama set behind the scenes of a morning TV show, with Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon in the cast? How about a supernatural series topped by Lin-Manuel Miranda or a comedy with Paul Rudd as a man overshadowed by his clone, or the chance to see Oscar-winner Forest Whitaker as a real-life gangster circa 1960?

Choose them all, and here's the potential monthly tab for that modest slice of the expanding pie that is TV in general and the fall 2019 season in particular: about $40. To be fair, that would provide access to other programs, new or returning, from Apple TV Plus ("The Morning Show"), HBO ("His Dark Materials"), Netflix ("Living with Yourself") and Epix ("Godfather of Harlem").

But the small screen is demanding a bigger bite of viewers' entertainment budget, and there's no end in sight as streamers Apple TV Plus and Disney Plus arrive this fall, squalling for attention with star-laden and high-concept programs while existing services crank out more shows to keep customers. Netflix, estimated to spend up to an astounding $15 billion this year on programming, will field some 30 contenders between now and November.

To aid your media battle plan, here's a selection of new shows coming your way, along with notable series returns. The services range from free over-the-air commercial and public TV networks (after $25 or so for a basic digital antenna) to the more-indulgent cable and streaming choices.

BROADCAST:

— "mixed-ish," ABC, Sept. 24. Rainbow "Bow" Johnson, Tracee Ellis Ross' character in "black-ish,"is a preteen fish-out-of-water in this prequel about growing up as the mixed-ethnicity child of hippies and a transplant to suburbia. Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Tika Sumpter are her parents.

— "Evil," CBS, Sept. 26. A crime drama from "The Good Wife" and "The Good Fight" creators Robert and Michelle King, with the roots of criminality sharing center stage with proving whodunnit. Mike Colter plays a priest in training, Katja Herbers a pragmatic detective.

— "Batwoman," CW, Oct. 6. Ruby Rose plays the title character, a Caped Crusader on new ground: She is openly lesbian, a rarity for a TV superhero. Batwoman is put to the test in a crime-wracked Gotham City, with her dad (Dougray Scott) maybe on her side.

— "Bless the Harts," Fox, Sept. 29. Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Jillian Bell and Ike Barinholtz are the voice cast for this animated comedy about a Southern family that's financially challenged but with a wealth of friends and good humor.

— "Bluff City Law," NBC, Sept. 23. Jimmy Smits builds on his legal resume ("L.A. Law") with the role of Elijah Strait, head of a famed Memphis, Tennessee, law firm that fights for social justice. Caitlin McGee co-stars as Strait's estranged daughter and reluctant partner.

— "Country Music," PBS, Sept. 15-18 and Sept. 22-25. Ken Burns' new opus, an eight-part, 16-hour history that starts with the earliest recordings of country music and follows its evolution through its famed artists, including Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton and Garth Brooks.

BASIC CABLE:

— "A Very Brady Renovation," HGTV, Sept. 9. Maureen McCormick, Barry Williams and the rest of "The Brady Bunch" siblings join forces with HGTV stars including Jonathan and Drew Scott for a makeover on the house used for exterior shots in the 1969-74 sitcom.

— "Patsy & Loretta," Lifetime, Oct. 19. Broadway stars Megan Hilty and Jessie Mueller play country music greats Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn in a TV movie about their friendship and the challenges they helped each other face.

— "The Preppy Murder: Death in Central Park," AMC and Sundance TV, Nov. 13-15. The docu-series revisits the 1986 killing of Jennifer Levin by prep school student Robert Chambers, promising new scrutiny of evidence and how gender and status affected the crime's perception.

PREMIUM CABLE

— "Godfather of Harlem," Epix, Sept. 29. Whitaker is a producer as well as lead of the drama series about New York crime boss Bumpy Johnson and his 1960s post-prison life, when trouble is afoot in his community.

— "His Dark Materials," HBO, date to be announced. James McAvoy, Ruth Wilson and Dafne Keen join Miranda (of "Hamilton" fame) in a series adapted from Philip Pullman's trilogy of novels about an effort to unravel a plot against children.

— "Watchmen," HBO, Oct. 20. Damon Lindelof ("Lost," ''The Leftovers") is an executive producer for this drama series inspired by the graphic novel and with a starry cast including Regina King, Jeremy Irons and Louis Gossett Jr.

— "The L Word: Generation Q," Showtime, Dec. 8. Jennifer Beals is back for this sequel to "The L Word," joined by new cast members including Arienne Mandi and Leo Sheng in an updated look at LGBTQ lives and loves.

STREAMING:

— "Taken Down," Acorn TV, Sept. 16. A Nigerian girl from a Dublin center for asylum-seekers is murdered, with the investigation complicated by refugees' fears of deportation and trauma. Lynn Rafferty and Brian Gleeson star.

— "Modern Love," Amazon, Oct. 18. The eponymous New York Times newspaper column inspired this romantic comedy anthology, with Anne Hathaway, Dev Patel, Tina Fey, Brandon Victor Dixon and Catherine Keener in the cast.

— "The Morning Show," Apple TV Plus, date to be announced. Steve Carell, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Billy Crudup join Aniston and Witherspoon in a behind-the-scenes look at fictional players in the competitive morning broadcast realm.

— "The Mandalorian," Disney Plus, Nov. 12. Pedro Pascal, Ming-Na Wen and Carl Weathers are among the stars of a "Star Wars" series that takes place after the fall of the Empire.

— "The Politician," Netflix, Sept. 27. Producer Ryan Murphy turns his cynical eye on politics, with Gwyneth Paltrow, Jessica Lange and Bette Midler along for the ride. Payton (Ben Platt) is running for high school president, with the White House his ultimate goal.

— "Living with Yourself," Netflix, Oct. 18. A comedy starring Paul Rudd as a man who's beside himself when he's duplicated in an unorthodox spa treatment, but made better, and sees the copy takes over his life.

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Lynn Elber can be reached at lelber@ap.org and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/lynnelber .

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