Top-rated CBS will target Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights with its development for next fall, which includes eight pilots — or roughly a third of those presented to visiting advertisers — produced at least in part by the network’s in-house unit, CBS Entertainment Prods.
CBS Entertainment president Jeff Sagansky maintained that Thursday is “totally up for grabs next year” with the demise of “Cheers” and “Knots Landing.” He said the network will try to shore up its recently established Friday comedy block with “some new blood” in the form of adult-oriented family comedy, perhaps as embodied by the sitcom pilots presented.
‘Knots’ successor sought
With the demise of “Knots,” Sagansky noted, network TV could be without an incumbent prime time soap for the first time in 16 years, and CBS has some replacement candidates in the works, including two that will premiere this summer: “Angel Falls,” a”Peyton Place”-type sudser about a single mother who returns home with her teenager; and “Cadillac Dreams,” a Lorimar TV hour from “Homefront” team Lynn Marie Latham and Bernard Lechowick.
The network previously announced a summer premiere for the Western “Return to Plum Creek” (from Hearst and CBS Ent. Prods.) and will also delay the Robert Zemeckis-Frank Marshall action-comedy series “Johnny Bago,” produced with Papazian-Hirsch Entertainment, until summer.
Sagansky added that CBS would feature a one-hour “Knots” retrospective prior to the show’s two-hour finale on May 13, a week prior to “Cheers’ ” much-anticipated final episode and one-hour nostalgia spec.
A tonic for ‘Brooklyn’
Web officials also said that “Brooklyn Bridge” would indeed come back Saturday night starting April 10 (they wouldn’t specify a time period, but it likely will air at 9:30 following the new comedy “A League of Their Own”) in a last-gasp effort as the network tries to cash in on the leadoff success of “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.”
Of most concern to studios, CBS’ in-house wing has apparently emerged as the network’s leading supplier of pilots for next season, in several instances teaming with independents like Reeves Entertainment, Hearst Entertainment Prods. or the Gerber Co. In addition, the news division this summer will add another hour, fronted by Connie Chung.
On the longform side, the web said it has only picked up about 30% of its 50 -or-so movies and miniseries for next season but cited the casting of Jon Voight to headline the miniseries sequel “Return to Lonesome Dove” as a highlight along with three “Hallmark Hall of Fame” productions.
The latter includes an adaptation of Anne Tyler’s “Breathing Lessons” and another project featuring Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy. Other miniseries mentioned include Larry McMurtry’s “Buffalo Girls” and the story of the Menendez brothers, who were charged with murdering their parents in Beverly Hills.
Syndie impact downplayed
In opening remarks, CBS/Broadcast Group exec VP Peter Lund sought to dispel the notion that network clearances were being affected by syndicated action fare , noting that the Eye network’s in-season (September through April) coverage rates have remained constant at around 98% over the past five seasons.
Entertainment brass also put in a plug for their spring replacement series, such as “Dudley” and “Good Advice,” but evoked some unwanted hisses with a teaser for the new Chuck Norris series “Walker, Texas Ranger,” when the star seemed to gratuitously punch out a subdued bad guy. According to sources, such previously reported series aspirants as the James Garner-Lorimar live presentation “The Shrink” and Carol Burnett-Brillstein/Grey Prods. half-hour “Reel Life” have been scrubbed and put on the back burner, respectively.
A list of pilots presented by CBS follows (the web omitted reality shows from its presentation):
“Dave’s World”– Harry Anderson and DeLane Matthews (“Laurie Hill”) star in a series based on the work of syndicated columnist Dave Barry. Jonathan Axelrod, Fred Barron, Doug Chapin, Barry Krost, James Widdoes, exec producers (CBS Entertainment Prods.)
“Banner Times”– Family comedy vehicle for stand-up Jeff Foxworthy as a newspaper publisher in Banner, Ga. David Nichols, Don Rhymer, exec producers (CBS Entertainment Prods.)
“The Second Time Around” (a k a “It’s Never Too Late”) –“Evening Shade” spinoff starring Charles Durning, Ann Wedgeworth. Burt Reynolds, exec producer, James Hampton, co-exec producer (CBS Ent. Prods.)
“Incredi-Girl”– Nicollette Sheridan (“Knots Landing”) as the heroine of a comic book-style TV show whose offcamera life is falling apart. Bill Sanders, exec producer, Jeff Greenstein, Jeff Strauss, co-exec producers (Universal TV).
“American Dream”– Chris Meloni (“The Fanelli Boys”) stars in a working-class pilot. Jeff Abugov (“Roseanne,””Roc”), exec producer (Twentieth TV).
“South Central”– A single mother raises her three kids in South Central L.A. Ralph Farquhar, Michael Weithorn, exec producers (Twentieth TV).
“Family Album”– A family moves from California back to Philadelphia to be near their aging parents. Marta Kauffman and David Crane (“Dream On”), exec producers (Lorimar TV).
“It Had to Be You”– Faye Dunaway plays a high-class Boston publisher who marries a blue-collar guy (Robert Urich) with three kids. Anita Addison, Andrew Nichols, Darell Vickers, exec producers (Lorimar TV).
“The Boys”– A thirtysomething writer and his girlfriend move into the house of a deceased man and inherit his elderly friends. Dan O’Shannon, Terry Hughes, exec producers (CBS Ent. Prods./Reeves Entertainment).
“The Nanny”– Fran Drescher becomes the nanny to a Broadway producer (Charles Shaughnessy) and his three kids. Robert Sternin, Prudence Fraser, exec producers (TriStar TV).
“Tall Hopes”– A Philadelphia family headed by comic George Wallace dreams of fame and fortune in the form of his 6-foot 7-inch son, a high-school basketball star. Rich Eustis, Michael Elias (“Head of the Class”), exec producers (Warner Bros. TV).
“The Building”– Ensemble comedy set in a Chicago apartment building starring and exec produced by Bonnie Hunt along with fellow SCTV alums. (Some published reports indicated the pilot would involve David Letterman as a producer.) (CBS Ent. Prods.).
“Island Guy”– A naive Pacific Islander (Anthony Ruivivar) paddles to the States and finds himself living with a yuppie couple (Ken Howard, Ellen Dolan). Earl Pomerantz, exec producer (Universal TV).
“Big Wave Dave’s”– Three middle-aged guys junk life in Chicago and open a Hawaii surf shop. David Isaacs, Ken Levine, exec producers (Paramount Network TV).
“Those Two”– Harvey Fierstein plays a writer whose well-ordered life is upset when his friend (Julie Halston) leaves her husband and moves in with him. Bob Randall, exec producer (CBS Ent. Prods.).
“Muddling Through”– Stephanie Hodge (“Nurses”) returns home after serving three years in jail for accidentally shooting her two-timing husband. Barton Dean, exec producer (Columbia Pictures TV).
“Trailer Park”– David Keith is back again as a resident in a tacky Florida trailer park living next to onetime country club types who find themselves there as well. Pam Norris, Paul Clay, exec producers (Reeves Entertainment).
“704 Hauser Street”– John Amos heads a black family living at Archie Bunker’s old address. Norman Lear, exec producer (Act III Communications/Columbia).
“South of Sunset”– Former Eagle Glenn Frey teams with newcomer Aries Spears as L.A. private eyes. Stan Rogow, John Byrum, exec producers (Paramount).
“Harts of the West”– Beau Bridges teams with dad Lloyd Bridges and Harley Kozak as a Chicago family that buys a dude ranch and moves west. Robert Moloney, exec producer (Kushner-Locke Co.)
“Arly Hanks”– Kate Jackson is back in a family drama as sheriff of a small Arkansas town. Sean Clark, Ian Sander, exec producers (Hearst Ent. Prods./CBS Ent. Prods.)
“Greyhounds”– Dennis Weaver, Robert Guillaume, Pat Morita and James Coburn play a quartet of retired lawmen fighting crime in San Diego. Stu Seagall, Stephen J. Cannell, exec producers (Cannell Entertainment).
“Summer”– Ensemble serial about four couples and their “very single male friend” living in Summer, Mass. Stephen Metcalfe, exec producer (TriStar TV).
“Shenandoah”– Two-hour pilot about a pair of Southern families at the time of the Civil War. Ensemble cast includes Daniel Markel, Zack Galligan, Tracy Griffith, Robert Foxworth. David Gerber, exec producer (Gerber Co./CBS Ent. Prods.).
“Due South”– A Canadian Mountie moves to Chicago to find his father’s killer and ends up partnering with a Windy City cop. Paul Haggis, exec producer (Alliance Entertainment).
Richard Grieco project — The former “Booker” star has a six-episode commitment playing a private eye. Robert Singer (“Reasonable Doubts”), exec producer (Lorimar).