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CW, NBC, Fox Bring You Well-to-Do Tube

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Will viewers tune in to drool over overwhelming riches on 13" screens?

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This fall, television executives are betting on an audience desperate for escapist entertainment.

Although the small screen has always focused more on the haves than the have-nots, the current slate of shows set to air in September revels in lavish financial excess.

It's a far cry from Sanford & Son.

The CW Network -- which is co-owned by CBS (CBS) and Warner Bros. (TWX) and geared toward young women -- will be premiering Privileged. Set in a lush Palm Beach mansion, the show's about a Yale graduate who becomes a live-in tutor for a cosmetic mogul's twin granddaughters

Privileged
joins Gossip Girl and the Beverly Hills 90210 remake as yet another CW program that spotlights extremely affluent and catty teens. Network executives claim the series are completely different from one another - each of the main characters has an entirely unique way of flipping and styling her hair.

ABC
(DIS) has also taken a risk on fiscally enviable characters by renewing Dirty Sexy Money for a second season. Critics and viewers alike haven't been kind to the melodramatic soap, and suggest that at least 2 words be removed from the title.

Rounding out the full-pocketed time slots are NBC's (GE) Lipstick Jungle and Fox's (NWS) Do Not Disturb, indicating the 2 networks are aiming for those viewers who thought Sex and the City too highbrow and Fawlty Towers too funny.

Some have likened this glut of wealth-obsessed programming during a time of economic struggle to the early '80s, when Dallas, Dynasty and Falcon Crest ruled the airwaves.

But then again, any show that focuses on doctors, lawyers or, hell, even ad men will feature characters who are more financially comfortable than the majority of today's audience.

TV executives will argue (or unabashedly hope) that the average person will watch television as a way to forget about their dwindling incomes and futures.

CW Entertainment Chief Dawn Ostroff says, "A lot of times when the country goes through times like these, where we're in what is perceived by many as a recession, having entertainment be escapist entertainment is what our viewers look for."

So, if television is strictly a means of escape, should the producers of Heroes and Smallville pray that the public never discovers their own superpowers?
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