Network adds sizzle to schedule

NEW YORK — CBS is looking to add a little sizzle to its 2007-08 schedule with dramas of a decidedly different sort than the Eye has offered in the past, including the musical “Viva Laughlin” and a vampire drama.

Dramas getting the call Monday morning included the high-profile “Laughlin,” the remake of the BBC series “Viva Blackpool!” from Sony Pictures TV, BBC Worldwide Prods. and CBS Paramount Network TV. Scribe Bob Lowry and Hugh Jackman are among the exec producers.

“Moonlight” (formerly known as “Twilight”) revolves around a private eye who happens to be a vampire and his struggles with the downside of immortality. Show, written by Trevor Munson and Ron Koslow, hails from Warner Bros. Television and is exec produced by Joel Silver.

The adventures of 1970s-era partner-swapping swingers is the focus of another hour getting the nod from CBS, “Swingtown,” produced by CBS Par Network TV.

“Cane” (formerly known as untitled Cynthia Cidre project), from CBS Par and ABC Studios, revolves around a powerful Latino family in South Florida.

Comedies include “Big Bang Theory,” a project that was rolled from last year from “Two and a Half Men” co-creator Chuck Lorre, who’s hoping the second time is the charm for the skein from WBTV, Lorre and scribe Bill Prady. The project, starring Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons and Kaley Cuoco as a mismatched beauty-and-the-geeks trio, was originally developed last year.

CBS also was expected to roll the dice on at least two more half-hours: “The Captain” and “I’m in Hell.”

“Captain,” from CBS Par TV, centers on a writer who’s life begins to change after he moves into a legendary Hollywood apartment building. Laffer stars Fran Kranz and features Jeffrey Tambor and Raquel Welch in its supporting cast.

“I’m in Hell” represents a major flier for the Eye, revolving around a high-flying Wall Streeter who dies in a car crash and is sent to hell, only it’s overbooked so he’s reassigned to hell on Earth and has to find a way to get by without the trappings of his old life. “Hell” comes to CBS courtesy of CBS Par Network TV and scribes Aron Abrams and Greg Thompson.

CBS was expected to make producers of a few returning comedies sweat another day before placing the formal renewal calls today. Twentieth Century Fox TV’s “How I Met Your Mother” is expected to return, as is WBTV’s “The New Adventures of Old Christine,” albeit possibly at a less than full-season order; and Sony Pictures TV’s “Rules of Engagement.”

As the day wore on Monday there were rumblings of a snag in WBTV’s negotiations on new series pickups. Insiders said studio at one point was not accepting CBS’ pickups, arguing that the network’s deal terms were prohibitively low. But this kind of network-studio wrangling is par for the course during upfront week; deals were expected to eventually be done after down-to-the-wire negotiations.

Meanwhile, CBS is also said to be homing in on a handful of midseason prospects, including 20th Century Fox TV’s “Babylon Fields,” starring Amber Tamblyn and Kathy Baker in a drama about dead people who are resurrected and try to resume their former lives.

New unscripted business at CBS is said to include “Power of 10,” game show from “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” maven Michael Davies and Sony Pictures TV. Skein has a “Family Feud” refrain in challenging contestants to predict the results of nationwide surveys.

Separately, industry sources confirmed that Fox has ordered five episodes of its live-action/reality hybrid skein “Anchorwoman,” about a supermodel who becomes a TV anchor in a small Texas town.

(Cynthia Littleton in Hollywood contributed to this report.)

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