Eye extends 5 skeins

Goes long on 'Joan,' 'Men'; Fox axes 'Luis'

This article was updated at 9:08p.m.

CBS has given itself a high five, while Fox has pulled the plug on “Luis.”

With the November sweeps right around the corner, Eye has given full-season, 22-episode orders to five of its six frosh skeins: “Joan of Arcadia,” “Two and a Half Men,” “Navy NCIS,” “Cold Case” and “The Handler.” Only newbie left out in the cold is “The Brotherhood of Poland, New Hampshire,” which is on hiatus and not expected to be renewed.

ABC and NBC are likely to begin announcing more full-season pickups this week. In addition to already renewed “Las Vegas,” NBC’s “Miss Match,” “Whoopi” and “Happy Family” seem headed toward snagging orders for additional episodes. All of ABC’s new laffers also seem likely to continue into the new year.

As for the Eye, net has had a solid start to its fall season, boasting the top three dramas of the fall season in total viewers. Charlie Sheen/Jon Cryer-led “Two and a Half Men” is the most-watched new show of the season and, among adults 18-49, has held on to an impressive 85% of its “Everybody Loves Raymond” lead-in.

CBS Entertainment prexy Nancy Tellem said ordering nine more episodes of the five skeins wasn’t a tough choice.

“I truly believe a lot of these were no-brainers,” Tellem said, crediting smart scheduling choices for getting all of the new shows launched. “This is a great batting average for us to have.”

Indeed, given the solid start of the CBS frosh class, back-nine orders for most of the shows had been expected for weeks. Less of a sure thing was “The Handler,” which has faded somewhat after a strong start. Tellem chalked that up to tougher-than-usual competish from baseball and repeats of “Law & Order: SVU.”

Viacom-produced “Handler” is up 30% season-to-date in viewers and 14% with adults 18-49 vs. last season’s average.

By contrast, “Joan of Arcadia,” from Barbara Hall Prods. in association with CBS Prods. and Sony Pictures Television, was the easiest call of the year. In addition to some of the season’s best reviews, skein regular wins its 8 p.m. Friday slot in viewers and — while not quite a demo dynamo — has helped improve the net’s adults 18-49 average by 36%.

Renewals are good news for Warner Bros. TV, which produces both “Cold Case” (via Jerry Bruckheimer Television) and “Two and a Half Men” (via Chuck Lorre Prods. and the Tannenbaum Co.). “Navy NCIS” is produced by Paramount Network Television-based Belisarius Prods.

Meanwhile, Fox has officially canceled Luis Guzman starrer “Luis,” which has aired just four times and scored lackluster ratings each time. Skein, from 20th Century Fox TV, had its final broadcast earlier this month.

Fox will double-pump original episodes of “Wanda at Large” Fridays at 8 and 8:30 p.m. for the next few weeks, with “Boston Public” scheduled to air at 9 p.m. As expected, telepics will fill Fridays for three weeks starting Nov. 14.

“Luis” is technically the first new show of the fall to get axed, but that’s only because Fox is being honest about its move.

NBC has ditched “Coupling” for the November sweeps, UPN has removed “The Mullets” from its sked and CBS has bid farewell to “The Brotherhood of Poland, New Hampshire.” All three nets have said the shows are on hiatus, though few industry insiders expect “Mullets” or “Brotherhood” to get orders for additional episodes.

Of course, some skeptics would argue Fox’s “The Ortegas” is the first casualty of the fall season, since the net decided against launching the show in the fall as planned and cut back its order to six episodes. However, Fox execs have said “The Ortegas” will make it on the air.

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