Broadcast Steps Up: Perhaps Feeling the Heat from the Gay Cable Channels, the Mainstream Networks Offer Plenty of Gay and Lesbian Characters (Real and Fictional)

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NEW SHOWS

The Apprentice: Martha Stewart (NBC): This spin on the original Apprentice is tailored toward Stewart's specialties of media, home renovation, and entertaining. The two openly gay contestants are Jeff, a creative director from New York City, and Chuck, an interior designer from Philadelphia. (Wednesdays, 8 P.M.; premieres Sept. 21)

Bones (Fox): Emily Deschanel plays a forensic anthropologist who solves crimes with help from David Boreanaz (Angel) and her assistant, a young genius played by out actor Eric Millegan. (Tuesdays, 8 P.M.; premieres Sept. 13)

Entertaining With the Hearty Boys (Food): See story at right. (Sundays, 9:30 A.M.; premieres Sept. 18)

Hot Properties (ABC): This Sex and the City--style show follows four women in a Manhattan real estate office. Alongside Gall O'Grady (American Dreams) and Nicole Sullivan (Mad TV) is Sofia Vergara, playing Lola Hernandez, a woman who's just learned she's married to a gay man. (Fridays, 9:30 P.M.; premieres Oct. 7)

Inconceivable (NBC): See page 58. (Fridays, 10 P.M.; premieres Sept. 23)

Isaac (Style): Fashion guru Isaac Mizrahi maximizes his sassy wit in a new talk show that will span the lifestyle gamut, including beauty, pop culture, diet, and more. (Weekdays; premieres in December)

Kitchen Confidential (Fox): Series follows Jack Bourdain (Bradley Cooper) as he assembles a renegade team of chefs to resurrect his failed culinary career. Created by Sex and the City main gay Darren Star; out actor Sam Pancake plays a waiter. (Mondays, 8:30 P.M.; premieres Sept. 19)

My Name Is Earl (NBC): Earl (Jason Lee) realizes the power of karma when he wins the lottery, and now he's determined to correct all the wrongs of his past. In the pilot, that includes helping a gay guy, played by Gregg Binkley. (Tuesdays, 9 P.M.; premieres Sept. 20)

Only in America (Discovery Times): Each week New York Times reporter Charlie LeDuff immerses himself in a different subculture, from male modeling to debutantes to a stint with the gay rodeo. (Fridays, 10 P.M.; premiered Sept. 2)

Out of Practice (CBS): Gay writer Joe Keenan and his Frasier producing partner Christopher Lloyd executive-produce this series about a family of dysfunctional doctors. Daughter Regina (Paula Marshall) is both an E.R.-action junkie and a lesbian. (Mondays, 9:30 P.M.; premieres in September)

Sex, Love, & Secrets (UPN): This Denise Richards vehicle explores the complex relationships of close friends living in the urban (and gay) Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles. The series' openly gay creators, writers, and executive producers, Michael Gans and Richard Register, confirm that queer plots will follow. (Tuesdays, 9 P.M.; premieres Sept. 27)

Todd Oldham's Handmade Modern (HGTV): Designer Todd Oldham delivers one week of shows based on his book Handmade Modern: Mid-Century Inspired Projects for Your Home. Celeb guests like Susan Sarandon and Amy Sedaris assist with the creativity. (8 P.M., Sept. 26-30)

Twins (WB): Another series by David Kohan and Max Mutchnick (Will & Grace), this one featuring Sara Gilbert as the intelligent fraternal twin to hottie Molly Stanton. The two have to run a business together, and things get wacky. (Fridays, 8:30 P.M.; premieres Sept. 16)

Viva Blackpool (BBE America): Ripley Holden (David Morrissey) dreams of transforming the rundown seaside town of Blackpool into his own Las Vegas, but then a dead body turns up in his casino. Added stress involves Holden's teenage son, Danny (Thomas Morrison), who is both coming out and in trouble with the police in this musical crime thriller. (Sundays, 10 P.M.; premieres Oct. 23)

The War at Home (Fox): See page 67. (Sundays, 8:30 P.M.; premiered Sept. 11)

MOVIES, MINISERIES, AND SPECIALS

Elton John Live From Las Vegas (NBC): Sir Elton, the unofficial queen of England, brings his critically acclaimed Las Vegas show to TV. …