Moonves beaming

Eye renews four rookies

HOLLYWOOD — Pointing to the strength of its primetime lineup in an otherwise torturous TV season for broadcasters, CBS announced Saturday that it is picking up four of its six new fall shows for the 2004-2005 sked.

Also, CBS has all but renewed the hit reality franchise “Survivor” for a ninth and 10th installment.

CBS prexy-CEO Leslie Moonves was radiant during his stopover Saturday at the midseason Television Critics Assn. press tour in Hollywood, where he recapped the Eye’s strong season. Eye is closing in on the Peacock in the key demo of adults 18-49 and has widened its lead over NBC in total viewers. CBS also is now the No. 1 net in adults 25-54.

Moonves said he has put in full 2004-2005 season orders for Monday comedy “Two and a Half Men,” from Warner Bros. TV; Sunday crime drama “Cold Case,” from Warner Bros. TV/Bruckheimer Films/CBS Prods.; Tuesday crime drama “Navy CIS,” from Paramount Network TV; and Friday’s “Joan of Arcadia,” from Sony Pictures Television/CBS Prods.

That comes on the heels of renewing three new shows from last year for the current TV season.

“Creatively, I think CBS has had a huge renaissance,” Moonves said. “So when you look at us, and when you look at the way we’re going — we’re the only network moving up (in total viewers) — and look how young these shows are, I think you’re going to look at CBS being dominant for many, many years to come,” Moonves said.

Deal with “Survivor” exec producer Mark Burnett was informally revealed later on Saturday. Burnett was at TCA to promo the upcoming “Survivor: All Stars.”

Moonves’ mood wasn’t dimmed by Donald Trump’s attack on him last week. Appearing at NBC’s portion of TCA to plug his new reality show “The Apprentice,” Trump said Moonves was the most “overrated person in television” and a “lightweight.” Trump was irate that Moonves moved its hit crime drama “CSI” to compete with the opening episode of the Peacock’s “The Apprentice.”

“Yeah, it was a little shot across the bow at them. It wasn’t a big deal. It wasn’t like we were moving ‘CSI’ permanently there. They must have a glass jaw at NBC. We put out a jab, and they exploded,” Moonves said. “We were surprised — look, if you had hair like mine, I could understand why he (Trump) is jealous. I might say the same about Jeff Zucker, too.”

Responding to a more serious issue, Moonves reiterated that CBS did not pay Michael Jackson to be interviewed by Ed Bradley on CBS News’ “60 Minutes.” Instead, the net told Jackson it wouldn’t air his entertainment special unless Jackson first discussed his legal case on a news program.

Outgoing “60 Minutes” creator and exec producer Don Hewitt, who was honored during a TCA session, said he would never air an interview that been paid for.

Also at TCA, both Moonves and CBS Entertainment Prexy Nancy Tellem dismissed the notion that broadcast nets need to change their business model and shift to year-round development in order to stay competitive with cable and other entertainment platforms. They said the other broadcast nets simply can’t seem to develop a full roster of successful shows.Looking to midseason, Tellem said new drama “Century City” will premiere March 16 at 9 p.m., with “The Guardian” going off the Tuesday sked for six weeks. New sitcom “The Stones” will premiere on Wednesday, March 17, at 9:30. Original telepic “Helter Skelter,” based on the Charles Manson murders, will air May 16.

Net also announced it has renewed the Tony Awards through 2009 and the Kennedy Center Honors through 2008. And it has signed Bob Barker to return for the 33rd season of gameshow “The Price is Right.”

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