Eye on summer originals

Net announces sked for season

CBS has finalized plans for an aggressive lineup of summer programming, including a Tuesday night sked that will be all original for much of July.

Not on the Eye’s summer menu is a telenovela. Net had hoped to launch a sudser this year (Daily Variety, Dec. 15), but a combination of factors has caused CBS to delay its plans.

Net will still air up to six hours of original fare each week, with a mix of new and returning programs.

“For us, the summer’s about escapism, guilty pleasures and giving the audience a vacation,” CBS Entertainment prexy Nina Tassler told Daily Variety.

Summer season will kick off May 31 with the premiere of U.K. import “Gameshow Marathon.” It will air Wednesday and Thursday nights at 8 for two weeks before settling into its regular 8 p.m. Thursday slot for three weeks beginning June 15.

Ricki Lake hosts the show, which features celebs competing in a series of classic quizzers such as “Card Sharks,” “Match Game” and “Family Feud.”

Borrowing a page from NBC, “Gameshow” will also feature an interactive text messaging game, with viewers competing to win the earnings of the celebs playing the on-air game.

CBS unveils its first docusoap, “Tuesday Night Book Club,” on Tuesday, June 13, at 10 p.m. “Laguna Beach”-like hour is set in suburbia.

Mark Burnett-produced “Rock Star” returns for a second season on Wednesday, July 5, at 8 p.m. It will also air Tuesdays at 9 starting July 11.

Eye is saving its big summer gun for last, rolling out “Big Brother 7: All- Stars” on Thursday, July 6, at 8 p.m. Bow of the warm-weather perennial will lead into a special one-time broadcast of “Rock Star.”

“Big Brother” will air three times a week: Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8 and Saturdays at 9.

Combo of “Big Brother,” “Rock Star” and “Book Club” means CBS will air an all-original lineup of programming on Tuesdays for most of July.

Eye is still leaving plenty of room for repeats of its dramas, which perform well in reruns. One exception is Tuesday nights, where success stories “NCIS” and “The Unit” are being bumped temporarily.

Tassler said the net still plans to air plenty of repeats of both shows. She particularly wants to expose “Unit” to new eyeballs. Don’t be surprised if “NCIS” and “Unit” repeats end up on Friday nights for a few weeks.

As for the missing telenovela, the Eye is actively developing a project from author Nicholas Sparks and producer Denise Di Novi while keeping options open on several other ideas.

“We’re not giving up at all,” said Tassler. “It’s all about designing a production model that works. They have to air twice a week, and we just didn’t have the shelf space this summer.”

Indeed, CBS already has two shows slated for summer that will air multiple times a week, making it tough to find room on the sked for a telenovela requiring two or three slots. The success of “The Unit” also meant CBS needed to keep open an extra hour to repeat that show.

Eye execs remain hopeful the telenovela project will launch sometime during the 2006-07 season or next summer.

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