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May 19, 2010

CBS shakes up fall schedule: 'Big Bang' on Thursday, 'CSI: NY' on Friday

Upfronts_blog 99024_D0779B2 After canceling seven shows yesterday, Wednesday's unveiling of the CBS fall schedule suddenly became a highly intriguing announcement. How much change was coming to the network's lineup?

Turns out, plenty.

CBS will launch a comedy block with "Big Bang Theory" on Thursdays, will move veteran procedural "CSI: NY" to Fridays and is shifting "Survivor" to Wednesdays, among other moves (full schedule below).

Executives dubbed the strategy "aggressive stability."

"There are two ways you can schedule," said CBS scheduling chief Kelly Kahl. "You can fill holes, or you can give your new shows a fighting chance with a lead in."

CBS clearly opted for the latter. Chuck Lorre's latest comedy "Mike & Molly" will get a powerhouse lead-in from "Two and a Half Men" on Mondays. The network's top-rated comedy in the adult demo, "The Big Bang Theory," has been moved to 8 p.m. on Thursday to fuel new William Shatner comedy "$#*! My Dad Says" (which will be promoted verbally on air as "Bleep My Dad Says"). Legal drama "Defenders" has "Criminals Minds" as an opener on Wednesdays. And family cop drama "Blue Bloods" starring Tom Selleck -- though airing in a tough slot on Fridays at 10 p.m. -- will have "CSI: NY" as an opening act.

But the biggest headline here is the Thursday comedy block. The move has CBS taking aim at incumbent NBC, whose comedies have softened in recent years. Not only are NBC's "Community" and "30 Rock" comedies, they're both geek-friendly like "Big Bang Theory" (just where "My Dad Says" falls on that spectrum remains to be seen). 

"We're not in the charity business," said Kahl after a press conference about the Thursday move. "The performance of [NBC's] comedies is not something that deterred us. People like those shows, but they're not setting the world on fire ratings wise."

Shit Another power move was shifting veteran procedurals "CSI: Miami" and "CSI: NY" out of their dominating perches into more challenging time periods. "Miami" is moving from Mondays to Sundays at 10 p.m. -- not a terrible slot by any stretch, but potentially not as comfortable with a reality lead-in from "Undercover Boss."

The network is also shifting "Survivor" from Thursdays at 8 p.m. -- a time period that CBS has long bragged the reality hit never loses -- to Wednesdays at 8 p.m. where it will face NBC's new J.J. Abrams drama "Undercovers."  "Survivor" has performed well when shifted to Wednesdays during basketball playoffs.

"The reasoning behind a number of these choices is that the shows have loyal fan bases [and they will follow the shows]," said entertainment president Nina Tassler.

Not to mention, no move is irreversible. Should a new series flop (and, certainly, one or three always do), CBS can send one of its "CSI" spinoff teams to the rescue.

At the start of the conference, CBS president and CEO Les Moonves took issue with the way some reporters handled the network's slew of cancellations yesterday.  

"We're in a good position here at CBS," Moonves said. "Yeah there are seven [cancellations]. Three are on Friday night, a night you have all said, 'Oh my God what's happening to Friday, is it turning into Saturday?'. Three of the others were Wednesday from 8 to 9 p.m. We love 'Old Christine.' That hour, guys, the numbers, were a 1.7 and a 1.8 -- and not heading in right direction. That's not a good position for the No. 1 network to be in. This is about improving time periods and improving the schedules. There's a couple of risks and a couple of big swings. I was surprised to read that you were surprised."

"We call it the 'network circle of life,'" Kahl added, drawing laughs.

The "Criminal Minds" spinoff will air in midseason, and the network is still eyeing a couple other pilots for a pickup, including Brett Ratner's "Chaos."

CBS' upfront presentation is later today. Moonves said that he plans to open with the joke: "I'm very happy not to be here selling 'One and a Half Men' to you." 


***New shows in red

Day 8 8:30 9 9:30 10:00
Monday How I Met Your Mother
Rules of Engagement
Two and a Half Men
Mike & Molly
Hawaii Five-0
Tuesday NCIS
NCIS: Los Angeles
The Good Wife
Wednesday Survivor
Criminal Minds
The Defenders
Thursday The Big Bang Theory
$#*! My Dad Says
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
The Mentalist
Friday Medium
Blue Bloods
Saturday Crimetime
48 Hours Mystery
Day 7 7:30 8
8:30 9 9:30 10:00
Sunday 60 Minutes
The Amazing Race
Undercover Boss
CSI: Miami


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