CBS: New Schedule Controversy


"What did you know about 'Medium' and when did you know it?" the Reporters Who Cover Television demanded to know of CBS suits at a morning Q&A session detailing the net's new 2009-10 season prime-time schedule.

"Medium" turned up on CBS's schedule less than 24 hours after NBC nixed the show it has had on its slate a few seasons because, NBC Entertainment co-chairman Ben Silverman said, it was "aging, as we were getting younger." And, he added, it had not gotten the same buzz as the whole "Chuck" Subway foot-long sandwich-buying thing.

"Medium" which is produced by CBS's TV production division, has turned up on CBS's Friday, between "Ghost Whisperer" and "Numb3rs." CBS programming chief Nina Tassler explained that "Medium" is extremely compatible with the two other shows. "Ghost Whisperer" is about a chick who talks to ghosts. "Numb3rs" is a crime solving drama. "Medium," which will be sandwiched between them in the fall, is about a chick who talks to dead people to help cops solve crimes. In fact, Tassler said, if "Ghost Whisperer" and "Numb3rs" ever got together, "Medium" would have been their love child. Yes, she did.

Still, some intrepid reporters demanded to know exactly when CBS suits knew NBC had officially passed on the CBS project -- as in, at what hour, on what day. They also grilled CBS scheduling chief Kelly Kahl in re what CBS had had on the Friday schedule in the 9 p.m. hour before they got the all-clear to pick up "Medium." The Reporters Who Cover Television are clearly overcaffeinated.

They also smelled conspiracy in CBS's decision to move "The Mentalist" -- this season's most watched new TV series -- to Thursday night at 10, instead of scheduling it at 8 or 9 somewhere on its lineup so it could feed viewers into a new series immediately after its broadcast.

Likewise, they smelled a rat in CBS's decision to go with "The New Adventures of Old Christine" and "Gary Unmarried" in the 8 p.m. hour Wednesdays, instead of moving its more successful sitcom "Big Bang Theory" there, or "Rules of Engagement. "

CBS has instead given "Big Bang Theory" the plum Monday 9:30 p.m time slot following this country's most watched comedy series, "Two and a Half Men"; "Rules" is once again being held back as a midseason fill-in.

But, of course, this is the same press corps who, in covering all of this week's new schedule announcements, has gotten its panties most bunched up over Jimmy Kimmel's traditional seventh-inning-stretch comedy bit during ABC's Tuesday confab with advertisers. Because, you see, Kimmel made jokes at ABC's expense. That's right -- a late night comic actually mocked his boss!

"Jimmy Kimmel Demolishes ABC's Upfronts," screamed a New York Times headline.

"If Jimmy Kimmel still has a job at ABC on Wednesday, he is either a very lucky or very deft comedian, or he has great blackmail photos of the network executives," the story continued.

"Jimmy Kimmel Destroys ABC at ABC Upfronts," ejaculated the web site Gawker.com.

"Jimmy Kimmel took the stage at ABC's upfront with jokes that so effectively undercut the whole puffed-up affair you wonder if he tells the network in advance what he's going to say," ranted The Holywood Reporter.

And, our personal fave, though we can't vouch for the website's journalistic cred, "Jimmy Kimmel Pours Ice Water on ABC Execs Loins."

Anyway, CBS put "The Mentalist" on Thursdays at 10 because it's a more important night than Tuesday -- more homes using television on Thursday night.

Not to mention the fact that NBC is now out of the drama business at 10, so "The Mentalist's" only real competition in the new time slot will be ABC's "Private Practice," which is not exactly a barn burner, ratings-wise.

And, of course, putting "The Mentalist" on after "CSI" might help shore up "CSI," which has suffered some serious ratings decline since losing William Petersen, though CBS suits did not say that.

They did point out that moving "The Mentalist" from the Tuesday 9 p.m. berth opened up the slot for the "NCIS" spinoff, "NCIS: Los Angeles" to, um, follow "NCIS." This seemed to throw some members of the press, who did not think the public would stand for two consecutive hours of "NCIS"-ness, even with two different casts. (The new one is going to star Chris O'Donnell and LL Cool J.) Apparently they have not been watching what's going on with reality TV series this season. What's been going on with reality TV series this season is that when you take a one-hour reality show like "The Biggest Loser" and blow it up into a two hour show, its ratings actually improve. A lot.

The press couldn't find any conspiracy in CBS's decision to bring back Julianna Margulies as a politician's wife who returns to work as a lawyer after her husband's very public sex and political corruption scandal lands him in jail. It's called "The Good Wife" and it's going to air Tuesdays at 10.

But they were deeply suspicious of CBS's decision to put a new medical drama, "Three Rivers" on Sunday at 9. One reporter informed Kahl that there have been a slew of medical dramas on the air over the years, and wondered what made them think this one was so special. A bemused Kahl smirked for just the briefest of seconds, then explained patiently that it stars Alex O'Loughlin -- the vampire from "Moonlight." The reporter had no comeback.

Here is CBS's new primetime sked:

N=New, NT=New Time.

MONDAY
8:00-8:30 PM HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER (NT)
8:30-9:00 PM ACCIDENTALLY ON PURPOSE (N)
9:00-9:30 PM TWO AND A HALF MEN
9:30-10:00 PM THE BIG BANG THEORY (NT)
10:00-11:00 PM CSI: MIAMI

TUESDAY
8:00-9:00 PM NCIS
9:00-10:00 PM NCIS: LOS ANGELES (N )
10:00-11:00 PM THE GOOD WIFE (N)

WEDNESDAY
8:00-8:30 PM THE NEW ADVENTURES OF OLD CHRISTINE
8:30-9:00 PM GARY UNMARRIED
9:00-10:00 PM CRIMINAL MINDS
10:00-11:00 PM CSI: NY

THURSDAY
8:00-9:00 PM SURVIVOR
9:00-10:00 PM CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION
10:00-11:00 PM THE MENTALIST (NT)

FRIDAY
8:00-9:00 PM GHOST WHISPERER
9:00-10:00 PM MEDIUM
10:00-11:00 PM NUMB3RS

SATURDAY
8:00-9:00 PM CRIMETIME SATURDAY
9:00-10:00 PM CRIMETIME SATURDAY
10:00-11:00 PM 48 HOURS MYSTERY

SUNDAY
7:00-8:00 PM 60 MINUTES
8:00-9:00 PM THE AMAZING RACE
9:00-10:00 PM THREE RIVERS (N)
10:00-11:00 PM COLD CASE (NT)

By Lisa de Moraes  |  May 20, 2009; 12:50 PM ET Broadcast TV Upfronts 2009
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I didn't see The Unit on CBS's schedule. Did that get canceled?

Posted by: k1omal | May 20, 2009 1:37 PM

Big bang theory later... boo... i love that show and as a teacher who has to get up early in the morning, 8 pm is a good time slot, 9:30 is getting awfully close to bedtime if not past it some nights....

Posted by: annwhite1 | May 20, 2009 2:00 PM

I hadn't realize how little I watch on CBS.

I don't like Big Bang Theory's move either--as the night stands now, we can watch it and How I Met Your Mother and then completely ignore the other two sitcoms. Now I'm more likely to record those two and watch them another night.

Posted by: mouse4 | May 20, 2009 3:00 PM

The Unit is cancelled. :-(

Posted by: gmail | May 20, 2009 4:33 PM

mouse - we do the same thing. Definitely a DVR solution I think.

Posted by: suzannepdc | May 20, 2009 11:40 PM

The only thing I watch on CBS is CSI:Miami and nothing on NBC.

Posted by: waterfrontproperty | May 21, 2009 12:09 AM

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