Bob Newhart has gotten another call — this one from CBS. His Paramount sitcom “Bob” reportedly will slide into the network’s Friday night fall lineup behind the TriStar TV comedy “Good Advice.”
The switch would return “Bob” to the same 9:30 time period it occupied most of last season, in the process moving the Shelley Long-Treat Williams sitcom “Good Advice” up a half-hour to 9 p.m.
Changes were made necessary by the network’s decision to hold “Hearts Afire” for midseason at the request of producers Harry Thomason and Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, who objected to the Friday timeslot (Daily Variety, July 30 ). CBS originally set “Hearts” for 9 p.m., followed by “Advice,” and agreed to the delay in exchange for reducing the show’s order from 22 to 13 episodes.
In addition to the scheduling shift, the network is now expected to delay premiering its 9-11 p.m. Friday block of “Good Advice,””Bob” and “Picket Fences” until late October, after the baseball playoffs have run their course.
CBS, which declined comment on the changes, originally had intended to introduce the entire Friday roster (which includes new Warner Bros. comedies “It Had to Be You” and “Family Album”) Sept. 24.
The whole scenario marks a Lazarus-like return for “Bob,” passed on when CBS announced its fall lineup last spring and only later receiving a midseason pickup after vigorous lobbying by Paramount. The show is expected to undergo changes next season, among them a shift from the comic-book company to a different work setting.
“Bob” followed the Thomasons’ “Designing Women” last season, drawing up a 9.7 rating, 17 share. “Advice” pulled roughly the same numbers after its April premiere in the same timeslot.
The Thomasons pushed for the change on the grounds that Friday has proved a burial ground for new and established series. CBS officials have maintained that the web employed the right strategy, just the wrong shows, in attacking the night with comedies vs. ABC’s “TGIF” block.
For those keeping score, with “Bob” added in, Paramount will produce five series totaling three hours of programming for fall, tying the studio with Universal, ABC Prods., CBS Entertainment Prods. and Twentieth TV among primetime suppliers. Warner Bros., whose consolidated divisions account for 15 shows, tops that list, followed by Disney with nine.