Gotham slugfest: ‘CSI’ will fight the ‘Law’

Moonves bullish on new drama

Operating from a position of strength, CBS enters the fall with few major schedule shuffles.

That gives the net a chance to focus on a few key battlegrounds. At the top of that list: The launch of “CSI: NY” opposite NBC’s storied “Law & Order.”

The Eye has had trouble filling the Wednesday 10 p.m. slot for years, going bust with entries such as “The Brotherhood of Poland, N.H.,” “Presidio Med” and “Wolf Lake.” Given the power of the “CSI” franchise, that will likely change.

“We finally have a weapon that can go in there and do some business, which is a time period we haven’t done business in for many, many years,” says Viacom co-prexy/co-COO Leslie Moonves. “‘CSI: NY’ is not going to beat ‘Law & Order.’ However, ‘CSI: NY’ will do better than we’ve done in that time period in decades, so it’s very exciting to be able to attack that.”

Earlier this year at the web’s upfront presentation, Moonves even guaranteed advertisers that “CSI: NY” would be “next year’s top new drama.”

Eye also is bowing the baseball-themed drama “Clubhouse” and Rob Lowe/Joe Pantoliano vehicle “Dr. Vegas,” as well as the Jason Alexander laffer “Listen Up” and John Goodman comedy “Center of the Universe.”

So far the comedies have been a bust with critics, and they may quickly go the way of Alexander’s (“Bob Patterson”) and Goodman’s (“Normal, Ohio”) other recent tries.

Still, CBS Entertainment prexy Nancy Tellem says she’s fine with the caliber of the new series so far. And, she points out, most of them have been scheduled in safe timeslots.

“We believe we’re well-positioned to introduce another strong freshman class,” Tellem says. “All of our new shows will benefit from an established show as a lead-in, except, of course, ‘CSI: NY,’ which already has a built-in identity.”

Emboldened by CBS’ continued strength, Moonves resurrected the “Tiffany network” moniker in May.

“The title of the Tiffany network, because of the quality of our shows and our performance, once again rings true,” Moonves says.

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