Eye gets to play it safe

CBS slate shows signs of stability

With few holes to fill on its fall schedule, CBS will announce just a handful of new drama and comedy series orders this week.

Several bubble shows will also make the cut, insiders said. Keeping in mind its large roster of returnees, Eye is so far adding just four, possibly five, new dramas and two laffers to the pot next season.

Given the small number of pickups, CBS will almost certainly unveil a fall schedule Wednesday that emphasizes stability and consistency wherever possible. Net will likely emphasize its relatively unchanged lineup as a marked contrast to the NBC and ABC skeds, both of which will feature a number of shifts.

Net’s not talking, but insiders Monday said the Eye gave a thumbs up to dramas “Jericho,” “Smith,” “Waterfront” and the untitled Peter Ocko project (formerly “3 lbs.”), with a fifth, the James Woods starrer “Shark,” also looking likely. Most scenarios have the net bowing three or four dramas in the fall, saving one or two for midseason.

“Shark” isn’t a sure thing as yet. CBS had been aiming over the weekend to turn the show, produced by 20th Century Fox TV and Imagine, into a co-production with sib CBS Paramount Network TV, but it’s expected to remain just in 20th/Imagine’s hands. Talk has also swirled about Eric Overmyer (or Ed Redlich) coming aboard in a showrunner role. But 20th was unable to confirm any showrunner changes.

On the comedy front, “The Class” has been greenlit, while an Adam Sandler-produced half-hour from Tom Hertz has landed a midseason order.

Eye also gave good news to some bubble shows, ordering 13 episodes of “King of Queens” and second seasons of crime drama “Close to Home” and laffer “The New Adventures of Old Christine.”

It’s possible, but not a guarantee, that CBS will pick up a few more shows before its upfront announcement Wednesday.

As for specific changes, CBS is expected to moves on Sunday, replacing its movie with two dramas, and Monday, where it will add a comedy. Net also has an hour to fill on Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on what it does with “The Amazing Race.”

There’s been buzz the Eye may also shift one of its established dramas to help launch its Sunday lineup. “Without a Trace” has been mentioned frequently by industry insiders, but net could also choose to shift “CSI: NY” or “CSI: Miami” so as to not disrupt its high-rated Thursday sked, which pulls in tons of ad coin.

On the drama front, “Smith,” from Warner Bros. TV and John Wells Prods., stars Ray Liotta, Virginia Madsen and Simon Baker in a crime drama told from the criminal’s perspective.

“Smith” is said to be different from the net’s usual procedurals. The rest of Eye’s drama pickups are even less bloodstained.

Sudsy drama “Waterfront,” also from Warner Bros. TV, stars Joe Pantoliano as the shady mayor of Providence, R.I.; William Baldwin and Mary Stuart Masterson also star.

The Ocko project, from CBS Paramount Network TV and Levinson/Fontana Co., is a medical skein focusing on brain surgeons. Stanley Tucci, Mark Feuerstein and Lorraine Toussaint star.

Gerald McRaney, Skeet Ulrich, Ashley Scott and Pamela Reed lead “Jericho,” which follows the post-apocalyptic goings on in a small town.

Then there’s “Shark,” which stars Woods as an L.A. celebrity attorney who decides to become a prosecutor. Spike Lee helmed the pilot, and Jeri Ryan also stars in the drama.

On the comedy front, “The Class,” from Warner Bros. TV, revolves around third-grade classmates who reunite in their 20s. Stars include Sean Maguire, Jason Ritter, Lucy Punch and Lizzy Kaplan.

The Hertz project, from Sony Pictures TV and Happy Madison, looks at three different relationships at different stages. Patrick Warburton and Megyn Price are among the show’s stars.

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