CBS Is Primed for Battle


CBS is pumped. The only network that actually gained in total viewers, 18-49s, and 25-54s in the 2003-04 season, it is also returning four of the six shows it premiered last fall. NBC is one for six. In fact, CBS Chairman and CEO Les Moonves spent much of the CBS upfront lampooning NBC (see In the Loop, page 10).

CBS's risk isn't much at all. It's totally revamping its Saturday lineup, but that's television's most disregarded (and least watched) night of the week. And while Everybody Loves Raymond
will be back, it will be around for only 16 episodes, and Moonves himself says that comedy "was the foundation on which we built this network." But he also has lots of Raymond
clips shows and hints he might persuade Ray Romano to make a "couple more."

Otherwise, CBS still has a lot of popular Jerry Bruckheimer dramas—and it's adding another CSI.

CBS still trails NBC in the 18-49 demo, the gold standard for advertisers. But perhaps the most-finessed stat presented at the upfront by any network was CBS's showing that, among "real upscale" young viewers—defined as 25-49s who make $75,000 or more—CBS actually leads NBC. These are the ones who buy cars, Moonves said, rather than have their parents buy one for them.

What's Next

(drama, Tuesday, 9)—A 16-year old becomes a batboy for a team that seems very much like the Yankees (they're called the Empires). Dean Cain and Mare Winningham star; Jeremy Sumpter's the batboy. Aaron Spelling, E. Duke Vincent, Mel Gibson, Bruce Davey, and Ken Topolsky are executive producers.

CSI: NY (drama, Wednesday, 10)—Gary Sinise stars. "Sneak preview" version last week was highest-rated Monday program of the season (including Monday Night Football). On the Wednesday schedule, it goes head-to-head against the original Law & Order. Could be interesting.

Dr. Vegas (drama, Friday, 10)—Rob Lowe becomes the in-house physician for a Las Vegas casino run by Joe Pantoliano (The Sopranos). Off duty, the doctor attends to showgirls.

Listen Up (sitcom, Monday, 8:30)—Jason Alexander portrays real-life sports columnist and TV talk-show host Tony Kornheiser.

Center of the Universe (sitcom, Wednesday, 9:30)—John Goodman stars as a family man surrounded by a loopy extended family that includes Olympia Dukakis, Jean Smart, and Ed Asner. CBS says the pilot tested higher than any show it has ever sampled.

Crime Time Saturday (drama, Saturday, 10)—On the tail-end of a revamped Saturday, this will be a repeat showing of one of the many crime dramas that dot the CBS schedule. Otherwise, CBS will air a revamped 48 Hours, now titled 48 Hours Mysteries, at 8 and The Amazing Race at 9.

60 Minutes
(news, Wednesday, 8)—Not new, of course. But CBS is retitling 60 Minutes II so the midweek version ceases to seem a stepchild to the Sunday version, which continues into its 37th season.