Upfront 07

Steady CBS Adds Some Spice for Fall

New Shows Center on Vampires, Wife Swapping and Singing

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- CBS is hoping to inject some life into its schedule this fall, with five new shows being added to its lineup. At a press conference in New York this morning, CBS President-CEO Les Moonves, Entertainment President Nina Tassler and Exec VP-Entertainment Kelly Kahl were on hand to announce the new shows from the CBS headquarters.
Hugh Jackman is the executive producer and a recurring character in 'Viva Laughlin.'
Hugh Jackman is the executive producer and a recurring character in 'Viva Laughlin.' Credit: CBS

Mr. Moonves kicked things off by acknowledging his network's reputation for being a tad conservative when it comes to programming. "That will change when you see the schedule," he said. Added Ms. Tassler: "I don't think people thought we would actually produce the pilots and put them on the schedule. The shows we picked up this year are just daring ... and different."

Network's big bet
The big bet out of CBS for the fall is "Viva Laughlin," a musical drama set outside Las Vegas and featuring recurring appearances from executive producer Hugh Jackman. An American version of the British drama "Viva Blackpool," the show will air Sundays at 8 p.m. "There was a real bidding war," Ms. Tassler said of the development fight with BBC America. "But the fates really conspired. It's a drama with music, fun, a little edge and danger as well."

Two other dramas new to the fold this year are "Cane," a "Sopranos"-meets-"Scarface" series starring Jimmy Smits on Mondays at 10 p.m., and "Moonlight," a vampire thriller with a romantic bent to complement its 8 p.m. "Ghost Whisperer" lead-in on Friday nights. "Between Jennifer Love Hewitt and ['Moonlight' star] Alex O'Loughlin it's going to be a very attractive time period," Ms. Tassler joked.

Of particular note is the reality series "Kid Nation," which strands 40 children over 40 days in an abandoned New Mexico town and leaves them to their own devices to forge their own government without parents or any other adult supervision.

Ms. Tassler said she originally ordered the show for the summer, but felt strongly enough about the program to give it a slot on the fall schedule. "It is aspirational; it's an extraordinary group of kids, 8 to 15 year olds, creating their own society."

Bolstering comedy block
The Eye Network will also introduce a new comedy, "The Big Bang Theory," to its Monday night sitcom block, benching Julia Louis-Dreyfus' "The Old Adventures of New Christine" until mid-season. Other returning comedies are "How I Met Your Mother," "Two and a Half Men" and this year's mid-season hit "Rules of Engagement." This season's low-rated critical fave "The Class" failed to make the cut.

In addition to "Christine," CBS is holding on to "The Amazing Race" for mid-season, as the show has proven to deliver substantial ratings no matter where the network puts it.

Edgy new drama "Swingtown" is also set to premiere around that time, with a plot focused on suburban Chicago families who swap wives for more than just household chores. HBO veteran Alan Poul ("Six Feet Under," "Big Love") directs from a script by "O.C." scribe Mike Kelley.

Returning shows
Though CBS will take a few risks with its content next year, it still played things fairly safe on scheduling. "The Class" and "Jericho" were the only two last-minute casualties, with the "CSI" franchise, "NCIS," "The Unit," "Numb3rs" and "Survivor" all returning in the fall. The only big move was swapping "Without a Trace" to Thursday nights at 10 p.m., moving the James Woods drama "Shark" from that spot to Sunday nights, where it will eventually face off with NBC's "Lipstick Jungle" and ABC's "Brothers and Sisters."


8:00 p.m. "How I Met Your Mother"
8:30 p.m. "The Big Bang Theory" *
9:00 p.m. "Two and a Half Men"
9:30 p.m. "Rules of Engagement"
10:00 p.m. "CSI: Miami"

8:00 p.m. "NCIS"
9:00 p.m. "The Unit"
10:00 p.m. "Cane" *

8:00 p.m. "Kid Nation" *
9:00 p.m. "Criminal Minds"
10:00 p.m. "CSI: NY"

8:00 p.m. "Survivor: China"
9:00 p.m. "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation"
10:00 p.m. "Without A Trace"

8:00 p.m. "Ghost Whisperer"
9:00 p.m. "Moonlight" *
10:00 p.m. "Numb3rs"

8:00 p.m. "Crimetime Saturday"
9:00 p.m. "Crimetime Saturday"
10:00 p.m. "48 Hours Mystery"

7:00 p.m. "60 Minutes"
8:00 p.m. "Viva Laughlin" *
9:00 p.m. "Cold Case"
10:00 p.m. "Shark"

* Denotes new programs
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