CBS is the only broadcaster that still invites the press to breakfast in order to reveal/pitch its primetime plans for next season. It has become an Upfront Week tradition. CBS also is the network that most closely guards its schedule for maximum drama at the breakfast. Here’s how it went:
9 AM ET: CBS Corp chief Leslie Moonves: “The only thing I’m gonna say — when did all the late-night guys start being the arbiters, the ones being fed the lines.. certainly not going to have Dave come out and put down other networks. I liked it much better when network execs put down other networks,” he said, noting in particular how much he loved nicking Jeff Zucker when Zucker ran NBC. That said, Les give Jimmy Kimmel’s seventh-inning stretch during ABC’s upfront presentation a thumbs up.
Related: CBS 2014 Schedule
“This really is the best era in the history of television — right now… a great time to be in the television business….We love the fact so many of the Silicon Valley companies are getting into production — not so easy!” Les says.
“We are going to have 90 hours of original programming in the summer. The September to May doesn’t quite work the way it used to.” Moonves says CBS’ summer series Under The Dome was the most-watched new drama of the television season, beating NBC’s The Blacklist. As part of that strategy, CBS is officially retiring the term “midseason,” chairman Nina Tassler says.
9:11 AM ET: New schedule unveiled: Four new dramas on the schedule — one new comedy. Monday comedies down to two. CSI moved to Sunday. NCIS: LA moved to Monday, etc.
MONDAY: “Great opportunity to use Big Bang Theory” at 8 PM says CBS scheduling guru Kelly Kahl. “ It’s No. 1 show on TV that’s not football by wide margin. We’ll use it at 8 for a few weeks to help Mom. When Big Bang goes back to Thursday after football ends on the night, 2 Broke Girls takes over the slot.” At 9 PM CBS has scheduled new drama Scorpion, which Tassler calls a “high-octane comedic thrill ride. It embraces the wit and humor we have in our signature comedies. ” And yet, it’s not a comedy and marks a super-shrinking of CBS’s traditional four-comedy Monday block. Monday’s at 10 PM, “did not do as well as would have liked,” says Kahl of this season, where CBS took a drubbing from NBC’s very CBS-ish procedural The Blacklist. CBS has moved there NCIS: LA to the hour (NBC, meanwhile, has moved The Blacklist to Thursdays).
TUESDAY: NCIS returns at 8. Spinoff NCIS: New Orleans at 9 PM. 10 PM last year asked Person Of Interest to step in and shore up. CBS has it there again next season.
WEDNESDAY: Survivor, Criminal Minds both back in their timeslots. At 10 PM, new Stalker. Stalkers are everywhere, Tassler says, citing some scary study, by way of explaining how this show will be relatable and, “and should scare the bajeezus out of all of us.”
THURSDAY: “We already win in viewers and in demos,” says Kahl. “Five week in season and two weeks pre-broadcast season with football. Give us immediate boost out of the gate.” After football, Big Bang returns followed by The Millers. Two And A Half Men in its final season.
Nina: “This will be Two And Half Men’s final season. Chuck Lorre is creating season-long event…Chuck is very psyched about this…We know fans and audiences respond to that and that should really give us a nice boost when we launch our new comedy…We did very well with the final season of How I Met Your Mother.” New comedy The McCarthys at 9:30. Elementary at 10.
FRIDAY’s big news: The Amazing Race moved to 8 PM.
SATURDAY: No changes.
SUNDAY: 60 Minutes At 7. At 8 PM, new Madam Secretary. The Good Wife at 9 had “maybe best season a show’s ever had on television,” says Kahl. Tassler says of Madam Secretary: “This is taking the high-profile, great West Wing stories” and interjecting a “personal story like Good Wife … very classy cast.” CSI moves to 10 PM Sunday. Kahl says CBS needed a show there that people and will wait for, despite football delays. CSI: Cyber will be used in the slot later, after mothership CSI sets things up at the start of the season, Tassler says, noting it stars Les Moonves Rep Theatre member Patricia Arquette.
9:30 AM ET: Midseason bench: Mike And Molly, Undercover Boss, Mentalist. Two new shows: Battle Creek and The Odd Couple starring Matthew Perry. “Big show, big auspices… we needed one other night,” Tassler jokes. “For us it’s about having premium content all year long.”
9:32 AM ET: First question from the press: How I Met Your Dad — what happened? Tassler: “There were elements of the pilot that didn’t work out.. We tried to engage about re-doing pilot. That’s not happening now….I’m heartsick. ” Re-doing the pilot wasn’t what the producers wanted to do, she says. “We felt re-piloting was in in the best interest” of the show and CBS.
Will Charlie Sheen back for Men’s final season? Tassler: “I would like to see whatever Chuck would like to do… I don’t know if that’s one of [his plans].” (Translation: Don’t hold your breath, but I don’t want that to become a headline of CBS’s Upfront presentation.)
9:40 AM: When a reporter said it sounded like she was saying CSI: Mothership would transition into the sunset when CSI: Cyber debuts, Tassler hedges, saying, “We believe in the show” and believed/hoped the schedule “could certainly support both on the air.”
9:45 AM ET: This year CBS’ development was stronger in dramas and the network is playing the hand it was dealt, Kahl says when asked about cutting down its Monday comedy block to just two.