Network slates original series pair, reality trio
CBS is adding two scripted series and a trio of reality newcomers to its summer programming mix, finalizing a third-quarter sked that’s once again heavy on “Big Brother” and crime repeats.The Eye lineup, revealed Monday, contained no surprises, with almost all of the programming having been previously announced as targeted for a summer run. That includes dramas “Swingtown” and “Flashpoint,” as well as the ad-themed competition “Jingles” (Daily Variety, Oct. 1). Still, with five new hourlong shows slated to bow, CBS scheduling chief Kelly Kahl said the Eye will air a record number of firstrun hours between June and September. “I’d say it has to be at least twice as much as we’ve ever had,” he said. In the wake of a strike-shortened season that saw nets broadcast a heavy load of repeats in the winter, web toppers have decided that a summer packed with too many repeats could be dangerous. “Coming out of a strike, we need to win viewers back,” Kahl said. “This is one way of doing it.” The Eye’s summer rollout will now begin Sunday, June 1, with the long-delayed premiere of “Million Dollar Password,” hosted by Regis Philbin. Quizzer will air at 8 p.m. Sundays, with Rosie O’Donnell and Neil Patrick Harris among the celebs slated to play along with civilian contestants. Betty White, a regular on the original “Password,” has also booked a return appearance. On Thursday, June 5, at 10 p.m., CBS bows “Swingtown,” the risque drama about life in the 1970s. That’s a week later than previously announced, due to the Eye’s desire to avoid a conflict with the newly scheduled two-hour season finale of ABC’s “Lost.” CBS, risking all sorts of “dog days of summer” puns, unveils canine talent competition “Greatest American Dog” on July 10. Skein will air in the 8 p.m. Thursday timeslot normally occupied by “Survivor” during the regular season. The next night, July 11, CBS premieres “Flashpoint,” the CTV-produced drama about rescue workers (Daily Variety, Jan. 29). Friday nights at 10 may not seem like an ideal place for a new drama, but Kahl believes the slot will benefit the show. With “Numbers” as a lead-in, “It will have a crime audience flowing into it,” he said. “And the expectations are going to be a little lower on a Friday night.” Eye’s big summer gun, “Big Brother,” gets a later-than-usual start this year, with its premiere pushed until Sunday, July 13. Delay is no doubt designed in part to lessen the burden on the show’s production staff, which will have virtually no break between the current ninth cycle of “Brother” and the upcoming summer edition. “Brother” will keep its in-season air pattern of Sundays at 8, Tuesdays at 9 and Wednesdays at 8. As usual, CBS will also utilize “Brother” to help launch a new nonscripted skein — in this case, the Mark Burnett-produced “Jingles.” Latter skein will premiere Sunday, July 27, at 9 p.m., following an original “Big Brother” seg. Crime repeats will once again remain a big part of the CBS summer sked, with all three “CSI” skeins slated to air encores, along with “NCIS.” Three crime-solvers — “Without a Trace,” “Numbers” and “Cold Case” — are shifting into new timeslots for the warm-weather months. “Trace” movies to 10 p.m. Tuesdays on June 3, “Numbers” shifts back an hour to 9 p.m. Fridays on July 11, and “Cold Case” moves to 10 p.m. Sunday on July 27. CBS will also have a smattering of summer specials, including the Tony Awards, an AFI clipfest and a pair of mixed martial arts bouts that will air in primetime on two Saturday nights.