- - Thursday, March 15, 2012

CBS on Wednesday announced the renewal of a staggering 18 prime-time series for next season, making the annual May announcement of its fall schedule almost moot and sending a message of stability.

Fans of television’s top-rated network won’t have to worry about whether old favorites such as “NCIS,” “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” and “Survivor” are coming back in the fall.

The Monday comedy lineup of “How I Met Your Mother,” “2 Broke Girls” and “Mike & Molly” will return intact, and CBS said it is negotiating to bring the Ashton Kutcher-led “Two and a Half Men” back. Thursday’s “The Big Bang Theory” also will return, CBS said.

“This large-scale renewal is testimony to the strength, stability and success of a deep and diverse roster of top-rated programming,” said Nina Tassler, CBS entertainment president.

A handful of series did not get renewals, immediately putting them on the bubble for return. These include the New York and Miami spinoffs of “CSI,” the new dramas “Unforgettable” and “A Gifted Man,” the sixth-season comedy “Rules of Engagement” and the new comedy “Rob.”

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This doesn’t necessarily mean those series will be canceled. They’ll likely compete with potential new series for spots in the lineup.

Wednesday’s announcement sends a clear message to producers of new series being considered by CBS: Raise your game because competition for space is fierce, said Brad Adgate, an analyst for Horizon Media.

The CBS announcement also is aimed at advertisers who will be making decisions this spring about where to spend billions of dollars to hawk their wares.

“When you’re the top network and have been the top network for seven or eight seasons, you can do this,” Mr. Adgate said.

CBS probably could put the same lineup on next fall and do well but doesn’t want to run the risk of getting stale, he said.

Besides “NCIS,” CBS already has committed to bringing back its Los Angeles spinoff. Other dramas that will return are “Hawaii Five-0,” “Criminal Minds,” “Person of Interest,” “The Mentalist,” “Blue Bloods” and “The Good Wife.”

“The Amazing Race” and “Undercover Boss” will join “Survivor” as CBS reality shows to return. The newsmagazines “60 Minutes” and “48 Hours Mystery” also will be back.

HBO cancels ‘Luck,’ will air final episodes

The horse racing series “Luck” was canceled by HBO after a third thoroughbred died during production of the drama starring Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte, the channel said Wednesday.

“Luck,” about the seedier side of racing, will air the final two episodes of its first season now in progress, HBO said. But the series won’t return for the second season that began production last month, it said.

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