CBS gives prime spot to launch reality show
CBS’ “Undercover Boss” is getting a major promotion.The reality entry has scored the coveted post-Super Bowl timeslot, launching Feb. 7 about 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT. Scheduling makes “Boss” the first brand-new series to launch directly behind the Super Bowl, and by itself, since 1995. Boss” then moves to Sundays at 9 p.m. starting the following week, Feb. 14, behind the return of “The Amazing Race.” That sets up a two-hour Sunday night reality block (or three, if one counts the granddaddy of all primetime nonscripted series, “60 Minutes”) on the Eye. As part of the “Boss” launch, “Cold Case” — which had moved up to 9 p.m. earlier this fall — returns to its usual 10 p.m. spot. Boss” was a dark-horse candidate for the post-Super Bowl slot, as most guesses had centered on either “Survivor,” “The Mentalist” or “The Big Bang Theory” running there. But as “The Mentalist” and “Big Bang” hadn’t been asked to produce a special episode for the spot — and time had essentially run out — “Survivor” became the likely candidate (especially because CBS had skedded “Survivor” in that plum post-Super Bowl spot twice before). CBS entertainment prexy Nina Tassler said “Boss” ultimately won the Super Bowl derby because the other shows didn’t need a ratings boost — and “Boss,” webheads felt, offered up broad appeal and an aspirational tone that made it feel like “the right show at the right time.” “This seemed like a great opportunity for us,” Tassler said of “Boss,” which has a 10-episode order. Boss” now reps a modern rarity: a never-seen series launching behind the Super Bowl. Once upon a time, in the 1980s and early 1990s, the nets regularly launched brand new shows behind the game — all because “The A-Team” preemed to big numbers there in 1983. The next year, “Airwolf” launched behind the Super Bowl, and in 1988, ABC found success debuting “The Wonder Years” after the game, solidifying the strategy — at least temporarily. But the gambit wound became a bust by the 1990s. Year after year, the nets were launching post-Super Bowl programs that wound up as Nielsen failures — “Grand Slam,” “Davis Rules,” “The Good Life” and “Extreme” (the last new show to premiere behind the game by itself). Only “Homicide,” which bowed there in 1993, had staying power. NBC switched direction in 1996, running an episode of “Friends” there — and so went a new trend: Special episodes of hit or growing series airing directly after the Super Bowl. In a slight exception to that rule, Fox took the opportunity in 1999 to air the pilot episode of “Family Guy” — the last show to preem there — and paired it with “The Simpsons.” In 2005, Fox launched “American Dad” after “The Simpsons.” That still makes “Boss” the first completely new program to run straight after the Super Bowl in more than ten years, and the first to run there by itself, and not along side a more established series, in 15 years. The last time CBS aired the Super Bowl, in 2007, it ran “Criminal Minds” following the game. In 2004 and 2001, “Survivor” scored the slot. Studio Lambert produces “Undercover Boss,” which centers on executives who go incognito inside their companies to see how their employees live and work. Show, which earned strong marks from advertisers at the May upfront presentations, is exec produced by Stephen Lambert. Meanwhile, CBS also announced that “Survivor” — as expected, another all-star edition, as past players return to compete — will launch at 8 p.m. Feb. 11. The 20th edition, which will be titled “Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains,” will bow with a two-hour episode. The week before, on Feb. 4, CBS will run a 10th anniversary special of the long-running hit, titled “Surviving Survivor.” Eye also confirmed that “Live for the Moment,” a special/backdoor pilot from “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and exec producer Mark Burnett, runs at 8 p.m. Jan. 28. Eye hasn’t yet announced premiere dates for “Miami Medical” and “Rules of Engagement”; net also still has Canadian co-productions “Flashpoint” and “The Bridge” waiting in the wings.