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CBS may part powerful pair

'Trace' eyes Sunday slot

CBS is mulling a fall sked that shakes up its mighty Thursday lineup for the first time since 2002.

Meanwhile, Fox is putting the final touches on a lineup expected to emphasize stability and consistency — along with the return of “American Idol.”

As always with CBS, any speculation about a sked is just that. Net keeps a tight lid on its moves and firmly declined Tuesday to confirm or deny any speculation about its sked, set to be unveiled today at an 8 a.m. press conference in Gotham.

But odds seem to be that Jerry Bruckheimer-produced crime drama “Without a Trace” will vacate its Thursday 10 p.m. slot after four years to help the Eye launch a drama-driven Sunday lineup.

It’s likely that “60 Minutes” will continue to air at 7 p.m., with the CBS Sunday Movie going away (Daily Variety, May 15). “Cold Case” seems likely to stay at 8.

Eye likes to hammock new dramas between established hits when possible, which would suggest “Trace” landing at 10 p.m. and a new hour at 9.

With ABC keeping “Grey’s Anatomy” off Monday nights, Eye execs were able to breathe a sigh of relief. While still solid, net’s comedy lineup has been looking a bit weak in recent months.

Most insiders expect CBS to keep “Two and a Half Men,” “How I Met Your Mother” and “The New Adventures of Old Christine” on the night, with newcomer “The Class” joining. Net may take a gamble and put the buzzworthy “Class” in an 8 p.m. lead-off slot, though history suggests the show will air at 8:30.

Eye could also play a relatively pat hand on Tuesdays, where “NCIS” and “The Unit” are doing nicely from 8-10 p.m. Net could shift “The Unit” to 10 p.m. to make room for a new drama at 9 or once again attempt to compete with “Law & Order: SVU” with a new hour.

On Wednesdays, sudsy hour “Jericho” would seem to be a good fit at 8 p.m., the same timeslot that ABC used to launch “Lost” two years ago. “Criminal Minds” and “CSI: NY” could stay at 9 and 10 p.m., respectively.

Look for “Survivor” and “CSI” to stay on Thursdays, with CBS slotting a new hour at 10 p.m. Look for the Eye’s Friday and Saturday night lineups to remain the same. Only question mark is whether “48 Hours” will be back.

Three new dramas competing for a slot on the Eye fall sked are legal hour “Shark,” small-town sudser “Waterfront” and John Wells-produced crime drama “Smith.”

Given the weekend wrangling with producer 20th Century Fox TV over “Shark,” Eye may be mulling the show for its best timeslot — 10 p.m. Thursday, where NBC’s “L.A. Law” thrived for years. Eye wanted CBS Par to get a piece of the show but 20th resisted.

“Smith” may be a good fit with “Cold Case” and “Trace” Sundays at 9 or 10 p.m., while femme-friendly “Waterfront” could suds things up Tuesdays at 10. Peter Ocko medical hour appears poised for midseason, as does new comedy “Rules of Engagement.” Latter skein is now a co-production between Sony and CBS Par Network TV.

Among the shows not expected to return to the Eye lineup: “Love Monkey,” “Courting Alex,” “Threshold” and “Out of Practice.” Joe Keenan, co-creator of “Out of Practice,” is talking to Touchstone Television about joining the writing staff of ABC’s “Desperate Housewives.”

In other upfront buzz, over at Fox, early sked rumors — net announces its plans Thursday — have Brad Garrett starrer “Til Death” in line for an 8 p.m. Thursday slot. That would pit it against ABC’s “Big Day.”

Interestingly, and perhaps problematically, both shows are from exec producers Josh Goldsmith and Cathy Yuspa. It’s unclear how the duo would produce both, though it’s not impossible (ask David E. Kelley).

“The War at Home” might be a good fit Thursday at 8:30 p.m., with “The OC” possibly staying at 9 to do battle with “Grey’s Anatomy.”

Fox is retooling Fox TV Studios-produced dramedy “The Wedding Album,” with 20th Century Fox TV joining as a co-producer. Lead role, played by Bruno Campos in the pilot, is being recast, which will necessitate reshooting parts of the pilot with an eye on a Friday bow. A reality show such as “Nanny 911” could also air on the night.

Saturdays will remain stable, with one comedy (perhaps “Happy Hour”) likely to join Fox’s Sunday sked. There’s been buzz about “House” moving to 9 p.m. Sunday, though that wouldn’t help Fox’s attempt to appear stable.

“Prison Break” could return on Monday nights as early as August, possibly paired with new drama “Vanished.”

If “House” and “Bones” remain anchored on Tuesday and Wednesday, new dramas “Primary” and “American Crime” would make solid companions.

Fox declined comment.

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