March 5, 2008 / 8:46 AM / 10 years ago

"Swingtown" experiment is on for CBS

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Guess who’s swinging into summer?

CBS is getting ready to take the wraps off “Swingtown,” a long-awaited drama about suburban swingers in 1970s Chicago.

With a few rare exceptions, like Fox’s teen drama “The O.C.,” broadcast dramas launched during the summer wither in the Nielsen ratings. A summer slot usually signals a network’s lack of confidence in a show’s prospects.

But “Swingtown” executive producer Carol Barbee said a postseason run creatively suits her show.

“A summer launch is perfect for ‘Swingtown’ since the pilot takes place on the Bicentennial Fourth of July,” Barbee said.

“Swingtown” was announced at CBS’ “upfront” presentation to advertisers last May as part of a plan to push creative boundaries with such shows as the vampire P.I. drama “Moonlight,” the murder-mystery musical “Viva Laughlin” and the reality series “Kid Nation.”

The serialized “Swingtown” originally was set to launch midseason so that it could air straight through. But aside from the pilot -- which drew a favorable response from critics -- only a few episodes were completed before the writers strike shut down production in November.

The series recently resumed production on its 13-episode order, but its fate had remained uncertain, especially since CBS’ own social experimentation phase hadn’t gone so well.

“Viva Laughlin” was canceled after two episodes, and “Kid Nation” did not perform well enough to earn a renewal. Although “Moonlight” has built a devoted cult fan base on Friday nights, the show was left out of CBS’ recent mass series renewal.

Just as worrisome: Broadcasters are on the defensive about sexual content. ABC was recently hit with a $1.2 million fine from the FCC for brief nudity in a 5-year-old episode of “NYPD Blue,” and a family values watchdog is protested CBS for airing edited episodes of Showtime’s serial-killer drama “Dexter.”

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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