CBS has several strong contenders among its comedy pilots, which may embolden it to drop most, or all, of its existing half-hour shows except for How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory, and Two and a Half Men (contingent on making a new deal with star Charlie Sheen, which appears likely). That way the network can introduce 3 new comedy series in the fall.
I hear ABC is in talks to pick up the CBS series The New Adventures of Old Christine if CBS cancels the multi-camera comedy, now in its 5th season. This is the 3rd year in a row that ABC has offered to pick up the Julia Louis Dreyfus starrer. But for the first time, ABC actually has an existing series that it could pair with it — The Middle, also a family comedy toplined by a well-known sitcom star, Patricia Heaton.
There are some rumblings that another CBS series, drama Ghost Whisperer, might transition to ABC. While it may look like a repeat of the Medium network switch last year (when the CBS Studios-produced drama was picked up by CBS after being canceled by NBC), the case with Ghost Whisperer is not identical. Despite being developed at ABC Studios, which runs lead on the show’s production, Ghost Whisperer is a co-production with CBS Studios, giving CBS and ABC an equal financial interest in continuing the show. (Ghost Whisperer was sold domestically to a trio of networks — Syfy, We and Ion — and does very well internationally.) So the future of Ghost Whisperer comes down to what CBS wants to do with Friday night. Indications are that, despite the ratings meltdown the night has suffered this season on all broadcast networks, CBS intends to keep on scripted programming for at least a portion of the night. Given the fact that no one has been able to launch a successful scripted series on Friday since CSI premiered a decade ago, CBS has the option to stick with Ghost and/or Medium. (Ghost Whisperer has the ratings edge, but Medium is fully owned). Or send a veteran there for retirement, like… the original CSI.
Last year, NBC’s Chuck got an 11th hour reprieve, clinching a partial 3rd-season order on Sunday afternoon before upfront week. This time around, its fate will be decided earlier if the show’s producers get their way. Several days ago, creators Josh Schwartz and Chris Fedak pitched NBC their vision for Season 4 and producing studio Warner Bros asked the network for a quick resolution so the series could keep its writing staff. Even with NBC brass happy with their drama development, the spy dramedy’s chances of renewal are considered very good — and certainly a lot better than last year when a sponsorship deal with Subway sealed the renewal. With the show rising in the ratings this week and fans staging rallies tomorrow, Chuck may be one solid ratings performance tomorrow night away from an early renewal.
The producers of another bubble show, CW’s One Tree Hill, will pitch their ideas for next season this coming week. The show’s creator Mark Schwahn, who is under an overall deal at CBS Studios, has inked an “if come” deal with One Tree Hill studio Warner Bros to return to the show if it’s picked up, which should bolster its chances. With veteran One Tree Hill competing against freshman Life Unexpected for a renewal (proven track record at a higher price vs. lower ratings but upswing potential and lower cost), there is a possibility that the two shows will get partial orders to share a time slot. Or, since they come from each of the two partners at The CW (One Tree Hill is produced by WBTV, Life Unexpected by CBS Studios), it is possible the toss-up renewal will be used to balance the orders between the two studios. If one of them gets disproportionally more pilots picked up to series, the other might get its bubble show renewed.