CBS tries for Thursday night laughs in fall lineup

Wed May 19, 2010 1:41pm EDT

Related Topics

* Top ranked network adds three dramas, two comedies

* Shifts Thursday schedule to emphasize comedy

* Plans one new spinoff for midseason

* Cancels 7 series from 2009-10 season

By Jennifer Saba

NEW YORK, May 19 (Reuters) - CBS took the wraps off a new fall prime-time schedule that will add just five new series to its popular lineup, including one based on a Twitter feed and another that mines the TV archives from the 1970s.

CBS will bring aboard three new dramas for the fall, the throwback "Hawaii Five-0," a lighthearted legal drama set in Las Vegas called "The Defenders" and "Blue Bloods" starring Tom Selleck as the patriarch of a family of New York cops.

The last of the big four U.S. broadcast networks to unveil its 2010-11 schedule, CBS is set to once more wrap up the current TV season as the most-viewed network. As a result, it introduced far fewer replacement shows than either NBC or ABC. [ID:nN13146597] [ID:nN18162812]

Along with its three dramas, CBS said on Wednesday it planned two new comedies for the fall, including "Mike & Molly," a series set in Chicago about a couple who fall in love at Overeaters Anonymous.

The stability of the 2010-11 schedule underscores what has been CBS's take on programming in recent years: If it's not broke, don't fix it.

CBS has a stable of reliable hits, including the "CSI" franchise, this season's breakout series "The Good Wife" and the long-running "Survivor," which will shift to Wednesdays from Thursdays next season.

Among the seven shows CBS jettisoned from the schedule were "The New Adventures of Old Christine," starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus and "Ghost Whisperer."

"We are in a pretty good position here," said CBS Corp (CBS.N) Chief Executive Les Moonves during a news conference at the company's Black Rock headquarters in New York. "It's about improving time periods and improving the schedule."

Along those lines, CBS will replace the "Survivor" slot on Thursday with two comedies, a clear effort to pull in younger viewers on one of the most hotly contested nights of the week.

CBS programming chief Kelly Kahl said the network "decided to take a swing" at building an hour of comedy to lead into two proven police dramas, "CSI:Crime Scene Investigation" and "The Mentalist."

The result is that CBS moved "The Big Bang Theory" -- one of the top rated comedies among young adults currently airing on Monday nights -- to the 8 p.m. time slot on Thursdays. That will be followed by the buzzed about freshman comedy "$#*! My Dad Says," starring William Shatner as an expressive father in a series based on the real life tweets of Justin Halpern.

Earlier in the week, the network secured a new two year contract for one of its most bankable stars, Charlie Sheen, after tense negotiations [ID:nN17148524].

Sheen is featured in the hit show "Two and a Half Men," which will remain on Monday nights. It will be followed this fall by "Mike & Molly," from the executive behind "Two and a Half Men," and the new crime drama "Hawaii Five-O."

"I'm happy I'm not selling 'One and a Half Men' to you," said Moonves, in reference to the last-minute signing of Sheen.

CBS will unveil its new programming later this afternoon as part of the upfronts, the annual period when broadcasters hope to sell the majority of the upcoming TV season's commercial time to advertisers.

Media executives are much more bullish on ad sales during this year's upfront after a brutal 2009. Barclays Capital analyst Anthony DiClemente forecasts advertising revenue will be up roughly 20 percent to $8.26 billion for four of the biggest networks.

Walt Disney Co's (DIS.N) ABC, News Corp's (NWSA.O) Fox and NBC, in which Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O) is about to buy a majority share, announced their fall schedules earlier in the week. (Reporting by Jennifer Saba; editing by Paul Thomasch and Andre Grenon)

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