Attract a younger audience: That's the CBS strategy in a nutshell. And the network is aggressively pursuing it with a pocketful of edgy, urban 10 o'clock dramas from some of Hollywood's top producers (if Jerry Bruckheimer doesn't impress you, how about Michael Mann?). CBS is also adding a pair of seemingly smart comedies from two of the top guns at Frasier
(Joe Keenan and Christopher Lloyd).
To paraphrase CBS Television President Les Moonves, who would have thought that CBS would jump from fourth to second place in the Nielsen ratings among regularly scheduled programs? Of course, ABC and Fox's miserableness helped.
Moonves can justifiably claim some momentum this season in the network's bid to attract younger viewers. CSI
was a huge hit for the network on Thursday nights. And Amazing Race
was a consistent winner in its Wednesday time period among young adult viewers. CSI: Miami
will join the schedule next season on Mondays, where CBS is usually first in households and second in key demos. Moonves predicts: CBS will "crush" the competition. That's also where one of the new comedies, Still Standing, will go, in the very cushy time period leading out of
Everybody Loves Raymond.
As for the 8-9 time period, which ABC is promoting as the "ABC Happy Hour," Moonves commented that CBS is returning at least one successful show to that time period each night of the week. "That, to me, is a happier hour."
New for the fall
Working-class parents (Mark Addy from The Full Monty
and Jami Gertz) raising three kids in Chicago. Diane M. Burroughs and Joey Guttierrez are executive producers. From Twentieth Television and CBS Productions.
Bram & Alice—
Relationship between an aging bad-boy novelist (Chocolat's Alfred Molina) and the twentysomething (Two Guys and a Girl's Traylor Howard) he has just discovered is his daughter. Joe Keenan and Christopher Lloyd (Frasier) executive-produce. From Paramount.
Spin-off by the producers of hit forensic drama CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. David Caruso (NYPD Blue) and Emily Procter (The West Wing) star. Jerry Bruckheimer, who brought the original series to CBS, tops the list of executive producers. From Alliance Atlantis and CBS Productions.
San Francisco-set medical drama with Dana Delany (China Beach) and Blythe Danner (Meet the Parents). Lydia Woodward, John Wells and Chris Chulack executive-produce. From Lydia Woodward Productions and John Wells Productions with Warner Bros. Television.
Without a Trace—
Crime drama about the missing-persons unit of the FBI, starring Anthony LaPaglia (Murder One). Executive producers include Jerry Bruckheimer, Jonathan Littman, Ed Redlich, David Nutter and Hank Steinberg. From Jerry Bruckheimer Television with Warner Bros. Television and CBS Productions.
Corrupt ex-cop (David Morse) seeks redemption by helping innocents who are threatened by bad guys. Co-starring Andre Braugher (Homicide: Life on the Street). Executive producers are David Koepp, Gavin Polone and Thomas Carter. From Big Ticket Television and CBS Productions.
—Michael Mann (Miami Vice) returns to television (in fact, to his old Friday 10 p.m. time period) as executive producer of film noir-ish crime drama set in Los Angeles. Tom Sizemore (Saving Private Ryan) stars. From Forward Pass Inc., with Universal Television.
Ready for midseason
Current season's gimmicky midseason comedy with the infant who talks in full sentences will return. Adam Arkin and Joely Fisher star. Michael Saltzman is executive producer. From Viacom Productions.
Drama Queens Supreme
—New York court drama starring Oliver Platt and Robert Loggia. Moonves described the program as a "good bench show" (no pun intended) because it can play at just about any hour on the schedule. Executive producers include Julia Roberts (yes, that one), Deborah Schindler, Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, Kevin Fox. From Shoelace Productions with CBS Productions.