'Brother' heats up crowded season
CBS has finalized an aggressive summer slate of reality programming, highlighted by a new-look “Big Brother” and Mark Burnett’s first new series for the Eye since “Survivor.”Once the net’s summer lineup is in place come July, CBS will air at least six hours each week devoted to four shows. That’s up significantly from last season, when the net aired four hours a week and just two shows: “Big Brother” and “The Amazing Race.” “It’s certainly our most aggressive summer schedule ever,” said CBS senior exec VP Kelly Kahl. In addition to “Big Brother” and Burnett’s “American Idol”-like competish “Rock Star: INXS,” CBS will launch producer Eric Schotz’s unscripted comedy “Fire Me… Please” and the Tommy Hilfiger-hosted fashion design competish “The Cut.” “Fire Me” will kick off the Eye’s summer sked Tuesday, June 7, at 9 p.m. Hourlong episodes will air Tuesdays at 9 throughout the month. In the skein, based on a BBC format, two newly hired workers vie to get fired by 3 p.m. that day. Two days after “Fire Me” premieres, CBS will debut “The Cut,” a “Project Runway”-like competition designed to find what the net calls the “fashion trendsetter of tomorrow.” It will air in the “Survivor” timeslot Thursdays at 8 for a month (including a 90-minute bow) before moving to a new timeslot in July. On Thursday, July 7, CBS summer stalwart “Big Brother” returns for its sixth season with a new look — literally. Skein’s old house on the CBS Radford lot has been demolished to make room for a new office building housing KCBS, KCAL and other Eye properties, perhaps including some CBS or Viacom exec offices. As a result, CBS has built a new two-story “Big Brother” house on the site of the old “Yes, Dear” studio space. Exec producers Arnold Shapiro and Allison Grodner said the new digs will open up a slew of production possibilities. “We’ve had a chance to improve on the whole layout,” Shapiro said, calling the new house “a whole new beginning.” Grodner said having two stories means “our cameras will be able to get real aerial shots. It will definitely look and feel different, maybe a little more like a loft space.” New house will still have a backyard, including a pool nearly twice as big as the old house’s wading hole. Grodner and Shapiro are holding back details of any other changes, with Grodner saying only that “it’s safe to say there are surprises and new things” in the works. “Brother” will keep its thrice-weekly broadcast pattern, with new episodes airing Thursday and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Tuesdays at 9 p.m. As last summer, CBS also plans to use the strength of “Brother” to boost a new skein, in this case Burnett’s “Rock Star.” David Goffin, exec producer of “Rock Star,” said the show will be fundamentally different from “Idol.” “It cares about story, character and rock ‘n’ roll,” he said, adding the show has had tremendous success licensing songs from big name rock acts, including the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Nirvana, the Killers and R.E.M. “Rock Star” will debut Monday, July 11, at 9 p.m. with a special one-hour episode. Most weeks will feature a performance episode Tuesdays at 10 (after “Brother”), a results show Wednesdays at 9:30 and an episode Mondays at 9:30 — most likely after repeats of “Two and a Half Men”– focusing on how the contestants are getting along with each other inside the “Rock Star” house. “If you look back at last summer, I don’t think there’s any question ‘The Amazing Race’ was helped by having a compatible lead-in,” Kahl said. Winner will become the lead singer of Aussie band INXS.