Keep an eye on CBS

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If you are betting on any network show for this upcoming season, bet at least two and a half times with CBS.

CBS' "Two & a Half Men" has one of the better chances to succeed this season, say agency executives. The reasons are simple: It comes right after highly rated "Everybody Loves Raymond," at 9:30 p.m. (ET) Mondays, and right before another top-rated CBS show, "CSI: Miami."

Other media executives are high on other CBS programs such as the "JAG" spinoff "Navy CIS."

"It has the `JAG' time slot on Tuesday at 8 p.m.," says Stacey Lynn Koerner, senior VP-programming analysis for Interpublic Group of Cos.' Initiative Media, New York. She also likes "Joan of Arcadia," a spiritual hour drama in the vein of "Touched by an Angel."

Why does much of the new lineup at Viacom-owned CBS look so good?

"They didn't have to take too many chances," says Ms. Koerner. And, say media agency analysts, the network is putting new shows leading out of safe and strong time periods, such as Jerry Bruckheimer's "Cold Case," a drama starring Kathryn Morris ("Minority Report") who's assigned to solve unsolved crimes, at 8 p.m. Sundays after perennial favorite, "60 Minutes."

"One Tree Hill," on AOL Time Warner's WB, is also favored by media executives. It's another young-skewing drama in the vein of "Dawson's Creek"-about two competing basketball-playing half-brothers whose father is a maniacal parent.

Sharianne Brill, VP-director of programming services for Aegis Group's Carat North America, says this scenario will work. "It has teen guy hotties," she says. "It sets up positive adults. There are also extreme characters; you know who to like and who to hate."


Ms. Brill also likes "The Ortegas" on News Corp.'s Fox. In the half-scripted, half-improvisational program, a family runs its own talk show in the back yard with real guests. "If they have good guest stars who can play along with that, that will be great," she says.

General Electric Co.'s NBC has a few chances at well. It's sexual innuendo-laden British import "Coupling" has a strong time period at 9:30 p.m. Thursdays after the high-flying "Will & Grace."

Ms. Koerner gives it a strong chance "but only by virtue of its time period. It could catch on."

Rob Lowe, starring in "Lyon's Den" at 10 p.m. Sundays on NBC is another possible strong player.

"It's a solid night for NBC," says Brad Adgate, senior VP-director of audience analysis for Horizon Media.

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