CBS is rearranging its Monday laffers and moving frosh hit “The Mentalist” to Thursday — but will otherwise head into fall with a schedule that screams stability.
Eye execs, who announced their lineup Wednesday morning, aren’t known for making rash moves during the annual spring rite of scheduling, and this year was no exception.
“We think it’s a strong schedule that strikes a great balance between new faces and existing stars, classic franchises and new twists, and some great scheduling,” CBS Entertainment prexy Nina Tassler told reporters at a morning press briefing.
Eye’s schedule also includes the acquisition of “Medium,” which left NBC after a tussle between the Peacock and producer CBS TV Studios; as well as three new dramas and one frosh comedy.
Net’s biggest play comes on Thursday, where “Mentalist” will move to the plum slot behind “CSI” for its sophomore season. Move is seen as a way for CBS to vault “Mentalist” to the top echelon of scripted skeins and to shore up its Thursday fortunes.
CBS scheduling topper Kelly Kahl said the net saw a chance to “take the No. 1 new show this year and pair it with the No. 1 show on TV and try to create a superblock.”
Eye also hasn’t had much luck in recent seasons launching shows behind “CSI”; last season’s stabs in the hour, “Eleventh Hour” and “Harper’s Island,” didn’t return.
“On a night with a higher profile and higher HUT (homes using television) levels, there’s certainly a chance we could bust (‘The Mentalist’) into becoming a top five show,” Kahl added.
While “The Mentalist” move had been predicted, CBS’ switcheroo on Monday nights was the biggest surprise coming out of the Eye’s new lineup.
This is a network that loathes moving things that are working, and CBS had a powerful Monday night this season with “The Big Bang Theory” at 8 and “Two and a Half Men” at 9.
But CBS wants to turn “Big Bang” into a mega-hit of “Two and a Half Men” proportions — perhaps to eventually move it to a new night.
As a result, the Eye said it’s shifting the show behind “Two and a Half Men” in order to pump its numbers up higher.
“Our first priority was to punch ‘Big Bang’ into the stratosphere a bit,” Kahl said.
The shuffle also puts “How I Met Your Mother” back in the leadoff 8 p.m. slot. The show occupied that same position a few years ago, but Kahl admitted that the net “threw it to the wolves” too early in the show’s life.
Now, he said, “Mother” has developed a stronger and loyal following, enough that it was ready to once again kick off Mondays.
Tassler and Kahl said “Mother” will be called upon to help launch the Jenna Elfman comedy “Accidentally on Purpose,” which will air at 8:30.
On Tuesdays, Eye will continue to kick off with “NCIS,” and lead right into spinoff “NCIS: Los Angeles.”
That’s a night CBS is especially bullish on, now that all three of its major competitors are airing reality from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.
CBS event included “NCIS: Los Angeles” star LL Cool J, who performed his 1990 hit “Mama Said Knock You Out.”
“Medium’s” shift from NBC to CBS came only after a substantial blowup between the two congloms.
Peacock had offered a 13-episode pickup for “Medium,” but CBS TV Studios — which has a 22-episode deal with star Patricia Arquette — was looking for a full-season order.
When NBC wouldn’t budge, the Eye opted to move the show to its own network, where “Medium” was seen as a natural fit with Friday night’s “Ghost Whisperer,” as well as returnee “Numbers.”
“If ‘Ghost Whisperer’ and ‘Numbers’ had an offspring, it would be ‘Medium,'” Tassler said.
The give-and-take between CBS and NBC got heated Tuesday, as CBS TV Studios took the unprecedented step of issuing a press release denouncing NBC’s decision not to pick up the show for a full season as “inexplicable.”
Besides the “NCIS” spinoff, CBS has new dramas “The Good Wife,” which winds up on Tuesdays, and “Three Rivers,” which will run on Sundays. Jerry Bruckheimer drama “Miami Trauma” will bow midseason.
Also on the bench for midseason are Canadian co-productions “Flashpoint” and the new drama “The Bridge” as well as laffer “Rules of Engagement” and reality entries “Arranged Marriage” and “Undercover Boss.” Advertisers appeared to react particularly strongly to the latter.
Among the Eye’s canceled shows, Tassler said the network looked at turning low-rated “Worst Week” into a multi-camera laffer, but ultimately passed. And she said decision to cut “Without a Trace” and “The Unit” repped a “difficult choice.”
“It was sad to see them go,” she said.
CBS honcho Leslie Moonves, who opened the press event, said he’s “bullish” about an uptick in the advertising marketplace.
“I really think we’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.
At the morning announcement, Eye execs held back their punches on NBC’s decision to air “The Jay Leno Show” weeknights at 10.
Moonves called the scheduling “a real sea change.”
“There’s going to be more share available at 10 p.m. for people who put on great dramas and that’s what we do year after year,” Moonves said.
But later, at CBS’ presentation inside Carnegie Hall, Moonves and company took a few digs at NBC — although never by name.
“There’s a big difference between the model being broken and not being able to find any hit shows for years,” said Moonves, an obvious reference to the Peacock’s stated reason — that the network model has been shattered — for moving Leno into primetime.
Here’s a look at CBS’ fall schedule:
8 p.m. – “How I Met Your Mother”
8:30 p.m. – “Accidentally on Purpose” (new comedy)
9 p.m. – “Two and a Half Men”
9:30 p.m. – “The Big Bang Theory”
10 p.m. – “CSI: Miami”
8 p.m. – “NCIS”
9 p.m. – “NCIS: Los Angeles”
10 p.m. – “The Good Wife” (new drama)
8 p.m. – “The New Adventures of Old Christine”
8:30 p.m. – “Gary Unmarried”
9 p.m. – “Criminal Minds”
10 p.m. – “CSI: NY”
8 p.m. – “Survivor”
9 p.m. – “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation”
10 p.m. – “The Mentalist”
8 p.m. – “Ghost Whisperer”
9 p.m. – “Medium”
10 p.m. – “Numbers”
8 p.m. – Drama repeats
9 p.m. – Drama repeats
10 p.m. – “48 Hours Mystery”
7 p.m. – “60 Minutes”
8 p.m. – “The Amazing Race”
9 p.m. – “Three Rivers” (new drama)
10 p.m. – “Cold Case”