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CBS stays course

Net orders pickups for 'Race,' 'Undercover'

CBS has ordered pickups for reality series “The Amazing Race” and “Undercover Boss.”

The move was expected, considering both shows have proved to be valuable players for the Eye in their respective 8 and 9 p.m. Sunday timeslots.

“The Amazing Race,” currently in its 18th edition and hosted by Phil Keoghan, drew 12 million viewers for its most recent completed cycle. Show won the Emmy Award for top reality competition show seven consecutive times before finally falling to “Top Chef” last year.

Jerry Bruckheimer, Bertram van Munster, Jonathan Littman, Elise Doganieri and Mark Vertullo are exec producers.

“Undercover Boss,” in which company CEOs disguise themselves as employees, debuted very well last year in the prime post-Super Bowl spot. “Boss” began its second season in the fall and has averaged 12.3 million overall viewers and a 3.4 rating/9 share in the 18-49 demo, according to Nielsen.

Stephen Lambert, Eli Holzman and Chris Carlson exec produce “Undercover Boss.”

Pickups come six weeks before the May upfronts, when network entertainment topper Nina Tassler must decide which shows will return in September. CBS is traditionally one of the most consistent networks in terms of not having much fluctuation season to season.

That may be slightly different this year, however, with the Eye enduring the “Two and a Half Men”-Charlie Sheen tumult. While the show remains the No. 1 comedy in total viewers (14.2 million) and tied for second in the 18-49 demo, its numbers have been declining recently because of the lack of original episodes. The show has been in repeat mode since Feb. 21.

Although it hasn’t been determined how a Sheen-less “Men” will move on creatively, what’s not in question is that the show will definitely continue in 2011-12. The network has another year left on its deal with Warner Bros. However, with the strong possibility of a casting change, the show’s longtime superstar status may be in peril.

There are a handful of other skeins that are anxiously awaiting their fate. “Bleep My Dad Says” is a steady demo performer but the 3.1 rating was disappointing considering the show followed hit “The Big Bang Theory.”

Since premiering Feb. 14, “Mad Love” hasn’t done anything particular to stand apart and make itself noticed and could be looking at a one-season-and-out scenario. On the positive side, five-season laffer “Rules of Engagement” has proved itself a dependable midseason replacement and has a strong chance to return.

Interestingly, CBS has not yet ordered a second season for Monday comedy “Mike & Molly,” despite a healthy 3.6 demo rating and 11.8 million viewers overall.

On the drama side, biggest question marks for pickups are “The Defenders” and “Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior.”

“The Defenders” fared decently with a 2.2 rating and 10.3 million viewers overall, but Tassler might pull it if she sees anything on her development slate that has breakout potential.

As for “Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior,” series was one of the few Eye spinoffs that wasn’t an immediate hit, unlike “NCIS: Los Angeles.” While mothership “Criminal Minds” continues as a solid 9 p.m. Wednesday performer, “Suspect Behavior” clearly hasn’t caught the attention of all the viewers who tune in an hour earlier.

In addition to “Undercover Boss,” “The Amazing Race” and “Two and a Half Men,” the only other CBS shows to officially have received pickups to date include “Survivor,” “NCIS,” “How I Met Your Mother” and “The Big Bang Theory.”