May 18, 2011 / 3:39 PM / in 7 years

CBS plans only a handful of new TV shows for fall

NEW YORK (Reuters) - CBS will introduce only a handful of new television shows next season, and those will stick largely to its tried and true formula of crime dramas and conventional sitcoms.

Such modest changes show just how few holes CBS believes it has in a prime-time lineup that currently accounts for more than half of the top 30 shows in TV, including hits “NCIS,” “Two and a Half Men” and “The Mentalist.”

“To get on the schedule you have to be really good,” CBS Corp Chief Executive Les Moonves said at Wednesday’s schedule announcement.

CBS’s most unexpected decision did not involve a new show, but rather one of its returning hits, “The Good Wife,” which is moving to Sundays where it will be up against NFL football.

CBS Entertainment Chief Nina Tassler, who said digging up fresh comedy was a priority at the network during the development season, would not reveal any details about how the writers would introduce Kutcher.

“We’re very excited,” Tassler said of the change. “We’re past thrilled.”

As for new additions to the lineup, CBS has ordered three new dramas and two new comedies for the fall, and will order another drama and possibly a couple of comedies for midseason. ABC, a division of Walt Disney Co, ordered a whopping 13 new shows and Comcast Corp’s NBC ordered 12 for the 2011-12 season.

The first of CBS’s new comedies, “2 Broke Girls,” is scheduled for Mondays ahead of “Two and a Half Men,” and tells the story of an unlikely friendship between a penniless waitress and a former trust fund baby.

The other comedy, “How To Be a Gentlemen,” is a workplace sitcom that will debut on the highly competitive Thursday nights with Kevin Dillon of HBO’s “Entourage” in a starring role.

CBS said “How To Be Gentlemen” would lead into “Person of Interest,” a new drama that executives said showed the best audience testing results of any of its drama pilots over the past 15 years. The show, from hitmaker J.J. Abrams, is a crime thriller that teams an ex-CIA agent with a mysterious billionaire.

CBS also introduced the media drama “A Gifted Man” and “Unforgettable,” a crime series that follows a former police detective with a memory condition that allows her to recall every detail of her life.

Time Warner Inc’s two cable networks, TNT and TBS, also unveiled their show development plans on Wednesday. Among the planned shows is TNT’s “Major Crimes,” a spin-off of the popular series “The Closer” that will be set in the Los Angeles Police Department, and TBS’s “The Wedding Band,” an hour-long comedy that follows four part-time musicians.

After this week’s introductions of the new TV schedules, negotiations for billions of dollars in advanced commercial time will begin in earnest, with prices expected to be up sharply from those a year ago.

Reporting by Paul Thomasch, editing by Dave Zimmerman

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