CBS Builds Another Comedy Night on Wednesdays

'New Adventures of Old Christine' to Anchor Lineup of Midweek Sitcoms

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NEW YORK ( -- CBS Corp. is placing a bet on an out-of-favor format: the sitcom. The company's flagship network, known for having one of the most durable stable of programs on broadcast TV and a solid Monday comedy schedule, said it would attempt to launch another night anchored by comedy for the 2008-09 TV season.
CBS will move 'The New Adventures of Old Christine' to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays.
CBS will move 'The New Adventures of Old Christine' to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays. Credit: CBS

While Monday nights have proven successful for comedies, including "Two and a Half Men," "How I Met Your Mother" and even the freshman "The Big Bang Theory," the network now wants to extend that to Wednesdays, CBS entertainment executives said.

"We had the goods to do it this year," Nina Tassler, president-CBS Entertainment, said during a press conference with reporters this morning. CBS will move "The New Adventures of Old Christine," a program that some had previously thought was on the bubble, to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays, where it will be paired with a new comedy offering, "Project Gary," which stars comedian Jay Mohr as a divorced man trying to move forward with his life. CBS Upfront Presentation Gets High Marks From Media Buyers

Formula works
CBS has enjoyed success by sticking to formula: procedural cop dramas, peppered with comedies focused on a strong central character and a few reality programs with ongoing storylines ("Survivor," "The Amazing Race"). And yet, the Tiffany Network has often flailed about when trying to break out with the kind of edgier programming that attracts younger viewers. When it came to devising the next fall season, Ms. Tassler said, the network wanted to have more "female faces" and add more character-driven elements to the formulaic dramas that have worked well in the past.

CBS said it would add five new shows to its fall schedule, one a night Monday through Friday. Aside from "Project Gary," the network is adding "Worst Week," a sitcom about a magazine editor trying to please his girlfriend's parents but usually doing something that has the opposite effect; "The Mentalist," a drama starring Simon Baker as a celebrity psychic who helps crack tough cases; "Eleventh Hour," a drama from producer Jerry Bruckheimer that follows a special science adviser who is usually called in as a last resource to investigate scientific crises and oddities; and "The Ex List," a dramedy about a 30-something woman who learns from a fortune teller that she has already dated the man who will be her future husband, and must find him in a year's time or remain alone forever.

CBS also said it would move "The Unit" to Sunday nights at 10 p.m., while it would not be bringing back "Shark," "Moonlight" or "Cane" to the schedule.

Branching out
CBS needs to branch out to make sure its schedule skews toward the young consumers that advertisers covet. The network has successfully conquered perceptions that it catered to the geriatric crowd, largely by moving away from fare such as "Diagnosis: Murder" and "Murder, She Wrote." At the same time, CBS aims for big, broad audiences, which means it has trouble devising fare for younger niches. Cult favorites such as "Moonlight" and "Jericho" have foundered on CBS's air. And so have experiments including "Viva Laughlin," a drama program that had its characters singing and dancing as much as they spoke; "Love Monkey," a clever drama focused on a music-industry executive and his attempts to find romance; and "The Class," an ensemble comedy that had dreams of becoming the next "Friends."

Ms. Tassler said the network had also prepared a mid-season drama, "Harper's Island," which will feature one cast member meeting his or her demise each week, as part of a larger mystery.
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