Eye rolls on series

Moonves touts new shows, NFL in demo drive

NEW YORK — During a presentation to advertising executives Thursday at the Ed Sullivan Theater, CBS Television Network prexy Les Moonves touted a dozen series the network has in development for next season, a year in which CBS will continue to try to edge its audience toward the younger, while not alienating its core older viewers.

Only three of the dozen series CBS has in development have begun production on pilots. In addition to repeating CBS’ goal to gradually improve demographics, Moonves said the return of the NFL will improve the network’s ability to attract and promote to younger viewers.

CBS’ development slate differs from last year’s in that it features fewer star deals and more new faces.

A level field

“The loss of the NFL really hurt us,” said Moonves. “The playing field will now be level. We believe CBS will be younger and more urban next year.”

A good portion of the shows Moonves highlighted are urban, with several of these being developed by big-name theatrical film directors and producers such as Sydney Pollack, Barry Levinson, Mark Johnson and Phillip Noyce. Several of the shows are based in New York and Los Angeles, and one is based in Boston.

Pollack is one of the executive producers of “Grand Concourse” (working title), a one-hour Paramount production about legal-aid lawyers in the Bronx. Johnson (“Bugsy,” “Donnie Brasco”) is the executive producer of the one-hour “L.A. Docs,” which Moonves said was “more personal and more part of the L.A. scene” than “ER.” Produced by CBS Prods. in association with Columbia TriStar Television, the series stars Ken Olin.

Levinson and Tom Fontana are developing “The Family Brood,” a one-hour drama series about firefighters living in New York City. Rysher Entertainment is producing.

“The Repair Shop,” an hourlong from Columbia TriStar, Rysher, and Tribeca Prods., stars Anthony LaPaglia as a former spy trying to get revenge on a rogue spy outfit for the death of his wife and child. Mark Frost and Jane Rosenthal are executive producers.

Lookin’ good, Les

“I’m struck by the very high production values that Les Moonves is looking to bring to the network,” said Chris Dixon, a media analyst for PaineWebber who attended the CBS presentation. “They’re spending a lot of money and these one-hour dramas look good.”

Dixon also saw potential in “Skip Chasers,” a 20th Century Fox one-hour drama starring Arsenio Hall as a rookie bounty hunter, and “Buddy Faro,” a Spelling Entertainment hour starring Dennis Farina as a hipster L.A. private eye who hung out with the Rat Pack in the ’70s but now needs to crawl out of the liquor bottle he’s been hiding in for 20 years.

Additional one-hours on the CBS slate are “To Have and to Hold,” a romantic comedy produced inhouse, and “Matthew,” a Rysher drama starring McKinsey Astin.

The network’s half-hours include a John Larroquette project from USA Studios; “By Anne Nivel,” a Fox fashion vehicle; a Brian Benben (HBO’s “Dream On”) product from Warner Bros. in association with CBS Prods.; “Better Days,” a Michael Moore-Larry Charles satire from Columbia TriStar; “Me and George,” starring Melanie Griffith from Witt-Thomas Prods. in association with CBS; “Local Zeroes,” a sitcom about contractors, from CBS and Columbia TriStar; “Late Bloomer,” another inhouse production about a housewife who becomes a regular on her favorite local morning talkshow; and “The King of Queens,” a sitcom about a lay-about in Rego Park, produced by Columbia TriStar.

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