- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 16, 2007

CBS sheds old image

Touting a content shake-up that includes vampires, swingers and a musical, CBS yesterday announced its new fall schedule, TVWeek.com reports.

“For those of you who accuse CBS of being too conservative, you will feel differently when you see the shows we have lined up,” said Leslie Moonves, chairman of CBS Corp.

In all, the network announced five new series for fall — three dramas, one comedy and one reality program. That’s fewer new fall shows than NBC or ABC, which is no surprise, considering CBS’ reputation as having the most stable current lineup.

CBS also canceled the nuclear-apocalypse drama “Jericho,” another sign that television networks are shying away from serial dramas after a spate of them last season, Associated Press notes.

“Jericho” started out strong last fall for CBS. However, like “Lost” on ABC and “Heroes” on NBC, it was abandoned by many viewers after it went on a long midseason hiatus.

“We lost a lot of steam,” said Kelly Kahl, CBS’ chief scheduling executive. “I know we had loyal viewers … but the show sort of lost its engine and wasn’t performing.”

“Swingtown,” CBS’ only new show that is heavily serialized, will start in midseason and run uninterrupted until the end of the season. The series is set in the shag-carpeted 1970s, with Chicago-area couples navigating the sexual freedom of the era.

CBS’ other dramas are “Cane,” with Emmy winner Jimmy Smits as a Cuban-American mobster; “Moonlight,” a series about a crime-solving vampire-private detective; and “Viva Lauglin,” a musical based on the acclaimed BBC series “Viva Blackpool.”

CBS added only one comedy, “The Big Bang Theory,” which centers on genius geeks who befriend attractive women.

The network also ordered “Kid Nation” — a reality show about a group of 40 youngsters rebuilding a New Mexico ghost town — that was a last-minute surprise addition.

‘Aliens’ on CW slate

The drama surrounding the CW’s hot comedy prospect “Aliens in America” reached a happy conclusion Tuesday when the pilot was picked up and veteran writer-producer Tim Doyle was tapped as executive producer, the Hollywood Reporter notes.

As part of the deal, Mr. Doyle inked a two-year, seven-figure pact with CBS Paramount Network TV, which will produce the series with Warner Bros. Television.

In addition to “Aliens,” the CW, which is gearing up for today’s upfront presentation (the time when networks announce their fall lineups) ordered three new drama series — “Gossip Girl,” “Reaper” and an untitled South Africa project — to fill the void from the departure of veterans “7th Heaven” and “Gilmore Girls” and cult favorite “Veronica Mars.”

Additionally, the network handed out renewal notices to the comedies “Girlfriends”— which appeared to be a goner a few weeks back — and “The Game.” The dramas “Smallville,” “Supernatural” and “One Tree Hill” also were renewed.

“Aliens”— a sitcom about a Pakistani Muslim teen who comes to live with an American family as an exchange student — is expected to join the CW’s Monday comedy lineup of “Girlfriends,” “Game” and the previously re-upped “Everybody Hates Chris,” possibly airing behind “Chris” at 8:30 p.m. It would take over the spot vacated by “All of Us,” which will not be returning for a fifth season.

Fox OKs 2 more for ‘24’

Fox has ordered two more seasons of its Emmy-winning action series “24,” TVWeek.com reports.

The order, announced yesterday, extends the series through 2009. The deal comes near the conclusion of the current “24” season, which has disappointed critics and led to a significant ratings drain for the veteran series. Producers have promised to overhaul the show next year.

The network’s official upfront presentation is today, and Fox is expected to announce several new dramas, including an action series, “The Sarah Connor Chronicles.”

Spanish makeover

Univision and Disney-ABC International Television Latin America have signed a production agreement that will permit the network to produce in Spanish a special version of the ABC hit “Desperate Housewives” to be shown on Univision in the U.S., MediaWeek.com reports.

The Hispanic version will be produced in Argentina by Pol-ka Producciones. The format and scripts will follow the original U.S. version, adapted to the preferences of U.S. Hispanics. Casting will begin shortly.

Bud Bundy busted

Former “Married … With Children” star David Faustino was arrested in Florida on suspicion of drug possession and disorderly intoxication, the Internet Movie Database reports. The actor, 33, who played Bud Bundy on the 1990s Fox sitcom, was arrested in New Smyrna Beach early last Saturday after police found him arguing in the street with his ex-wife, Andrea. Police told the Orlando Sentinel that the couple admitted they had been drinking. Officers reportedly found a gram of marijuana in Mr. Faustino’s pocket.

This just in…

Beyonce earned a leading six nominations yesterday for the 2007 BET Awards, including nods for top female R&B; artist, the video for her hit single,”Irreplaceable” and duets with Jay-Z on “Deja Vu” and “Upgrade U.”

Her nominations haul doubled that of anyone else, AP reports. “Dreamgirls” Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson, R&B; singer Ciara, hip-hop’s Akon and the group Gnarls Barkley all took three nominations.

The Black Entertainment Television Awards in music, television, film and sports will be presented June 26. Mo’Nique is slated to host the show on cable’s BET Network from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. Performers include 50 Cent and T.I.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports

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