In addition to taking the wraps off its fall sked, CBS will add another celeb to its rapidly expanding galaxy of stars today, announcing a midseason order for a half-hour comedy reuniting thesp Jenna Elfman and scribe Chuck Lorre.
Eye execs maintained the usual pre-upfront cone of silence in advance of today’s Carnegie Hall presentation, but word slipped out that bubble laffer “Yes, Dear” will get a 13-episode midseason order, while the LMNO/BBC unscripted laffer “Fire Me Please” has also been given a greenlight, likely for midseason as well.
As for the untitled Lorre/Elfman skein, project will be a reunion: Lorre co-created Elfman’s ABC laffer “Dharma & Greg.” Elfman guest-starred on Lorre-run “Two and a Half Men” earlier this season, and her appearance resulted in a notable ratings bump.
Lorre will remain as showrunner on “Men,” co-writing the pilot for the Elfman show and supervising production. Search is already on for a showrunner.
After a couple of misses on the pilot front, Lorre is currently enjoying big-time success with “Two and a Half Men” — the Monday night Eye frosh that has established itself as a bona fide smash.
Warner Bros. TV will produce the new comedy, a fact that makes it all the more likely the studio will soon announce an overall deal with Lorre. Scribe’s most recent contract — a multiyear monster worth north of $30 million when signed back in 1999 — had been set to expire this year.
As for the Eye’s fall lineup, insiders who pride themselves on knowing such things fully admitted to being stumped about the specifics of the sked.
“Yeah, right,” one agent BlackBerryed a reporter Tuesday afternoon in response to a query for information. “From the vault of CBS? Are you kidding?”
If CBS chairman-CEO Leslie Moonves holds to his recent public comments, the Eye’s overall sked will be relatively stable, with changes made only where necessary. However, Moonves often likes to spring one or two surprises.
That could mean “Judging Amy” is on the move, opening up a key 10 p.m. Tuesday slot for a new drama such as “CSI: New York” or “Dr. Vegas.” “Amy” could slide back an hour to 9 p.m. or relocate to Friday.
Most believe either the New York- or Miami-flavored editions of “CSI” is headed for Wednesday at 10 p.m., but CBS might want to plant a flag Tuesdays at 10, replacing the aging “Amy” with a new franchise.
4th on Saturdays
Also in play is Saturday, where Moonves will have to decide whether to continue airing expensive firstrun dramas while other nets snag better demos with repeats. “There’s no excuse to be fourth in 18-49 on Saturday,” one Eye insider said a few weeks ago.
Most believe Moonves will serve up a hodgepodge of programming, including reality skeins and maybe even drama or comedy repeats.
“The Amazing Race” has been picked up for a sixth season and could be a contender for the night, along with quizzer “Liar,” Mike Fleiss’ “The Will” and LMNO’s “Search for a Domestic Diva.”
Eye might want to open up an hourlong reality slot earlier in the week, however, perhaps filling holes on Tuesday at 9 or Wednesday at 8. “Survivor” worked well Wednesdays at 8 before shifting to Thursdays, and the flow of young viewers into comedies at 9 p.m. wouldn’t hurt.
Monday will continue to feature four comedies, with a frosh laffer replacing “Yes, Dear,” as well as an installment of the “CSI” franchise.
Most skeds circulating this week have John Goodman starrer “Center of the Universe” on Mondays and Jason Alexander’s new laffer on Wednesdays (after “King of Queens”). Goodman’s skein would seem a better fit with “King of Queens,” however.
Baseball-tinged drama “Clubhouse” is expected to land Fridays at 9 p.m., with “JAG” possibly shifting to 10 p.m. A “JAG”/”Amy” combo on Friday, however, would push “Clubhouse” to a slot on Tuesday. Some believe “Clubhouse” might be a good way to open Tuesdays, with “NCIS” and “Amy” following.
Fates of newmags “60 Minutes II” and “48 Hours” annually hang in the air. It’s unlikely either franchise would completely disappear, but observers don’t rule out some change in how often and when either skein airs.
It seems unlikely CBS will touch its winning Thursday night lineup, and Sunday should stay the same.