Upfront 2010

CBS Expected to Launch New 'Hawaii Five-O'

'Criminal Minds' Spinoff Also on Tap as Network Seeks Reliable Performers

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- CBS, the TV network that has little room for error in picking new programs, is expected to launch a new version of the popular police classic "Hawaii Five-O" and a spinoff of its series "Criminal Minds," according to people familiar with the network's decision-making process.

The original version of 'Hawaii Five-O' ran on CBS from 1968 to 1980.
The original version of 'Hawaii Five-O' ran on CBS from 1968 to 1980.
CBS is also expected to announce it has picked up the series "Blue Bloods," a drama centered on three generations of a family involved in law-enforcement, starring Tom Selleck; a legal drama called "The Defenders" that is apparently not based on the mid-1960s CBS program of the same name; a comedy from "Two and a Half Men" producer Chuck Lorre called "Mike and Molly"; and a quirky sitcom entitled "$#*! My Dad Says," based on a Twitter feed of a similar name that issues remarks from a cranky, elderly parent.

CBS is expected to announce its prime-time lineup formally Wednesday morning.

If the concepts seem less experimental than other fare introduced so far this week, it's because CBS has less maneuvering room to mount series that might work only if the right audience tunes in. Unlike NBC, ABC and Fox, which are owned by larger media conglomerates, the CBS television network is the showpiece of its owner, CBS Corp. As such, CBS's revenue is more heavily reliant on traditional advertising than competitors and less insulated from the vicissitudes of the advertising market.

That means the network has less tolerance for oddball fare that takes time to find its audience, focusing more heavily on launching broad crowd-pleasers that draw solid ratings -- thereby creating a demand for the programs on DVD, overseas and for re-airings on cable and in syndication. In years past, CBS would test more questionable fare, such as "Jericho," a drama set in a post-nuclear era, or "Swingtown," a drama set in the spouse-swapping 1970s. While these shows garnered cult audiences or critical applause, their ratings weren't necessarily of the level needed to mount a thriving business.

CBS has impetus for this direction. Its freshman drama, "NCIS: LA," a spinoff of the original "NCIS," has been one of the bigger hits of the 2009-10 season.

"Hawaii Five-O" certainly wouldn't be hard to introduce to the public. The original version of the drama ran on CBS from 1968 to 1980. CBS then re-ran episodes of the cop show's last season in late night under the title "McGarrett," based on the name of the series' central character.

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