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CBS is a good Bette - Broadcasting & Cable

CBS is a good Bette

The network is banking on superstar Midler's sitcom
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The strategy

CBS Television President and CEO Les Moonves says NBC has given him "a free pass" on Saturdays. Walker, Texas Ranger will be flanked by dramas-touchy-feely That's Life and cop show The District-a lineup Moonves promises will make sense even though it doesn't on first glance.

The network seems excited about the Midler project and the Letterman-like Welcome to New York (which will likely get a new title; to much of America, a welcome to New York sounds like a curse) on Wednesday night. But they both air against Millionaire.

Steven Bochco's midseason drama, racially diverse City of Angels, may have been given another chance because of organized pressure and faith in Bochco. Moonves said, "We did get a lot of postcards, but that's not the reason [it's coming back]. It's because it is a good show. Angels will need prayers. It airs Thursdays at 9 p.m., battling against Friends and Millionaire.

What they are saying

Many media watchers came away from last week believing that CBS has one of the strongest development slates this year. J. Walter Thompson's Ron Frederick has his eye on the Bette Midler series: "Bette is a huge personality, and the show has a very interesting context, which is about her own life. It's not an idea that's been done to death."

A senior executive at a top New York agency said, "The new Monday comedy looked a little mundane, but I didn't see anything else on CBS that I didn't think was at least decent." There was second-guessing on the scheduling of The Fugitive; some thought Tuesday after JAG would be better than its assigned Friday berth.

R.I.P.

Now & Again, Early Edition, Martial Law, Chicago Hope and Cosby

Season to date

Total households: 8.6 rating/14 share (-4% from last year), tied for second place.

Adults 18-49: 3.7/10 (-5%).

What's new

Seven new series: two comedies and two dramas

Comedies: The Bette Show. Midler makes her TV series debut in a comedy that makes fun of herself, her fans and her dual role as entertainment star and mother. CBS is sky high on it.

Welcome to New York. Comedian/ actor Jim Gaffigan plays an Indiana TV weatherman who gets called to work in New York for Christine Baranski (Cybill). The show is from David Letterman's production company Worldwide Pants, and it is loosely based on Letterman's rise to fame.

Yes, Dear. Mike O'Malley returns in a comedy about two young couples' contrasting views on parenting.

Dramas: The Fugitive. Tim Daly (Wings) stars in the remake of the TV classic series. Warner Bros. reportedly spent $6 million on the action-packed pilot.

C.S.I. That's Crime Scene Investigators, and that's what William Petersen and Marg Helgenberger do for a living in Las Vegas.

That's Life. Newcomer Lydia Savage plays a thirtysomething who goes back to college. Anita Addison (Judging Amy) produces.

The District. Former Coach star Craig T. Nelson is back on network TV as a tough Washington, D.C., police chief.

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