CBS cooks up short orders

Citing new realities in the TV economy, CBS confirmed that the network’s new fall lineup doesn’t include traditional 13-episode pick-ups on any of its new series, relying instead on short orders ranging from six to eight episodes.

The network confirmed a fall roster that includes five new comedies, three new dramas and “Eye to Eye With Connie Chung” replacing news magazine “Street Stories,” which will likely return — with or without anchor Ed Bradley — during first-quarter ’94 (Daily Variety, May 20).

In addition, CBS Entertainment Prods. will as expected become Cannon Pictures’ production partner on “Walker, Texas Ranger,” meaning the network will supply seven of 18 hours, or 39%, of its series programming — five shows through the in-house production division and three one-hour CBS News magazines.

On the question of short orders, CBS Entertainment prez Jeff Sagansky said during a press conference Thursday that the strategy — which the network has been inching toward the last two seasons –“doesn’t reflect any lack of faith in these (new) shows” but rather underscores the high cost of production. Shorter orders will allow the network to take more stabs with different programs.

Production community sources were grumbling about the approach, noting that 13 episodes help companies defray the costs of mounting a show by amortizing expenses over the extra installments; however, CBS exec VP Peter Tortorici said the network has “got to find ways to reduce the costs where possible” and that suppliers will eventually benefit as well. Longer orders, he said, are “what made sense five years ago. Do the thing that makes sense today.”

Arnold’s at midseason

CBS said “Tom,” a sitcom starring Tom Arnold that at one point was projected for fall, will now be a midseason player. The network reportedly wanted the show for 8 p.m. Wednesday, and the Arnolds felt they’d be better served by a later time period allowing for saltier humor.

Sagansky said Arnold “has a slightly larger-than-life quality” and was forced to play against who he is in “The Jackie Thomas Show.” As for the assumption that CBS pursued Arnold to secure a better negotiating position next year for Carsey-Werner’s “Roseanne,” Sagansky said, “We went after Tom Arnold for Tom Arnold, not Roseanne.”

On other fronts, CBS confirmed that former “Designing Woman” Annie Potts will join Shukovsky English Entertainment’s “Love and War,” that Carl Weathers will become a regular on “In the Heat of the Night” and that Paramount’s “Bob” remains under consideration for midseason.

By moving “Heat of the Night” to 8 p.m. Thursday, CBS preempts ABC flopping “Matlock” with new drama “Missing Persons,” which the web reportedly scheduled in the lead-off slot hoping to expand its demographic skew and benefit in the upfront sales market.

As reported, “Dave’s World,” starring Harry Anderson and DeLane Matthews, gets the 8:30 p.m. slot Monday, while Lorimar’s Bronson Pinchot-Courtney Cox comedy “The Trouble With Larry”– about a long-lost husband who moves in with his ex-wife’s new family — will lead off Wednesday, followed by Fran Drescher in “The Nanny” (TriStar) and Paramount’s Stan Rogow-John Byrum hour “South of Sunset,” which stars rocker Glenn Frey.

Thursday suds

Picking up the soap mantle from “Knots Landing” Thursdays is “Angel Falls,” a serial about a woman and her teenage son who return to her hometown, from writer-exec producer Joyce Eliason and the Konigsberg-Sanitsky Co. Another independent, Kushner-Locke Co., fills in Saturday with “Harts of the West,” a modern-day hour with Beau Bridges and Harley Jane Kozak as a couple who buy a western dude ranch.

Lorimar owns the lead-off hour Friday with “It Had To Be You,” pairing Faye Dunaway and Robert Urich, and “Family Album,” the Kauffman-Crane-Bright sitcom starring Peter Scolari and Pamela Reed. Both the Pinchot and Dunaway shows are exec produced by the team of Andrew Nicholls and Darrell Vickers, paired on the latter with David Steinberg.

As it is with NBC and ABC, Lorimar TV will be CBS’ leading outside supplier with its three new sitcoms, while MCA/Universal had its two hours (“Northern Exposure,””Murder, She Wrote”) renewed and TriStar lands two sitcoms on the web, returnee “Good Advice”– which will get a producer overhaul with its move to Friday — and “The Nanny,” CBS’ highest-testing comedy.

The Connie Chung news show will premiere June 17, with Chung joining “The CBS Evening News” as a co-anchor June 1. With ABC News pursuing “Street Stories’ ” Bradley, the stewardship of that program also remains up in the air.

More midseason

Other midseason fare includes Viacom’s “Diagnosis Murder: Starring Dick Van Dyke,” already a series of successful movies, and “Down Home,” from producers John Tinker and Bruce Paltrow(“St. Elsewhere”).

Like ABC, CBS has three news magazines but no reality shows on its fall lineup, though “Top Cops” and “How’d They Do That?” are waiting in the wings.

31 new shows for webs

With nine new CBS series, the three networks are up to 31 new shows for the fall — only two less than all four services, including Fox Broadcasting Co., introduced last year.

A complete breakdown of the fall schedule follows (new shows listed in boldface):


“Evening Shade,” 8; “Dave’s World,” 8:30; “Murphy Brown,” 9; “Love & War,” 9: 30; “Northern Exposure,” 10.


“Rescue 911,” 8; Movie, 9.


“The Trouble With Larry,” 8; “The Nanny,” 8:30; “South of Sunset,” 9; “48 Hours,” 10.


“In the Heat of the Night,” 8; “Eye to Eye With Connie Chung,” 9; “Angel Falls,” 10.


“It Had To Be You,” 8; “Family Album,” 8:30; “Hearts Afire,” 9; “Good Advice, ” 9:30; “Picket Fences,” 10.


“Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman,” 8; “Harts of the West,” 9; “Walker, Texas Ranger ,” 10.


“60 Minutes,” 7; “Murder, She Wrote,” 8; Movie, 9.

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