CBS chairman Leslie Moonves believes the Eye net has nowhere to go but young.
Unveiling his schedule to advertisers Wednesday at New York’s Carnegie Hall, Moonves said he had taken a bite of the adults 18-49 apple — and he’s hungry for more.
“This is the schedule we are going to maintain for many years to come, because we have the building blocks,” he told reporters earlier in the day. “We’ve taken out four of the five of our oldest shows. The only one remaining is ’60 Minutes.’ ”
Exec also took a few shots at the competish (namely NBC) and crowed that the net was about to end the year in first place among adults 18-49 — with regularly scheduled programming — for the first time in 30 years.
“This is the culmination of many years in the building,” Moonves said. “It takes many years to build a schedule and many years to tear it down.”
Joining Moonves in her first upfront presentation as CBS Entertainment prexy, Nina Tassler detailed a schedule that boasted no real shockers for fall. Eye stuck with stability via its top-rated Thursday night lineup and, as expected, slid hit laffer “Two and a Half Men” into the key “Everybody Loves Raymond” timeslot.
Moonves pointed out that the net now wins Thursday night by 8 million viewers.
“It’s a night we dominate,” he said. “Who would have thought that three years ago?”
Net also is expanding its rep as the “Crime Broadcasting System”: With new entries “Close to Home” and “Criminal Minds,” CBS now airs crime dramas in 10 of its 22 weekly hours (11, if you include the real-life “48 Hours Mystery”).
Femme fall lineup
And, looking to add a few more female faces to the lineup, three of the net’s four new dramas boast women leads.
On Mondays, with “Raymond’s” departure, CBS believes it won’t skip a beat by not only planting “Two and a Half Men” at 9 p.m., but also bringing “The King of Queens” back to its former 8 p.m. home and keeping “CSI: Miami” planted at 10.
In between, net will introduce two laffers, the 20th Century Fox entry “How I Met Your Mother” (following “Queens”) and Paramount entry “Out of Practice” (after “Men”).
The following night, Eye will use the strength of returning Tuesday entries “NCIS” and “The Amazing Race” to launch the Jerry Bruckheimer drama “Close to Home,” about a female suburban prosecutor. Move means Bruckheimer now controls four out of the net’s five weeknight 10 p.m. slots.
Meanwhile, making room for the returning laffers “Still Standing” and “Yes, Dear” in the Wednesday 8 p.m. slot, Eye has canceled the second edition of “60 Minutes.”
Moonves said the decision to cancel the show was about ratings, not the “Memogate” report, which the network ultimately retracted.
By moving its Wednesday night comedy hour down to 8 p.m., net will use the time to launch another drama, this one the FBI-themed Touchstone/Par entry “Criminal Minds.”
Eye is making its biggest changes on Friday night, where it dumped “Joan of Arcadia” and the retiring “JAG” in favor of supernatural Jennifer Love Hewitt starrer “Ghost Whisperer” (from Touchstone and Par) at 8, followed by the alien invasion thriller “Threshold” (Paramount).
“Numbers” continues Fridays at 10 p.m., while net also is holding firm on Saturday (two hours of crime drama repeats, followed by “48 Hours Mystery”) and Sunday.
Moonves pointed out that the Eye stayed stable on Sunday night even against tough ABC competish. Net is planning more movies on the night in the vein of “Locusts” and “Spring Break Shark Attack.”
“We’re coming up with these concepts right now because ‘Desperate Housewives’ is tough,” he said.
Besides “Joan,” “JAG,” “Raymond” and “60 Minutes Wednesday,” shows not returning include “Center of the Universe,” “Clubhouse,” “Dr. Vegas,” “Judging Amy” and “Listen Up.”
Katz TV Group VP Bill Carroll said he could see the net potentially building on its ratings lead next fall.
“What they needed to do is make the tough decisions,” he said. “They had to make tough decisions about ‘Joan,’ ‘Judging Amy’ and ‘JAG.’ They’re toughest night is probably going to be Friday night, and that’s where they’re going the most aggressive. If ever they had the opportunity to capitalize on the 18-49 audience, it’s now.”
On the ‘Avenue’
CBS opened its upfront with the cast of the Broadway hit “Avenue Q,” performing a new version of the musical’s theme song, “It Sucks to Be Me” — with puppets representing Bob Iger, Rupert Murdoch and Jeff Zucker. Routine was followed by a video featuring Moonves superimposed into clips of Oscar winner “Million Dollar Baby” — in which the exec learns how to fight NBC for the demo title belt.
NBC jabs were fast and furious — When Tassler took the Carnegie Hall stage, she said Moonves had given her only one bit of advice: “Jokes about Jeff Zucker are always funny.”
Other gags included a simulated episode of “Survivor,” where a member of “The Early Show” was to be voted off. Weatherman Dave Price voted for Julie Chen, only to learn she has immunity as Moonves’ wife.
“Dave, she can’t go, she’s got the immunity ring!” host Jeff Probst exclaimed.