Greetings to the New Season: CBS – UPDATED

Finally, things are starting to get interesting. CBS has released its schedule for Fall 2010, and, wow, talk about shaking things up. Thursday nights were already wreaking havoc on my viewing schedule, and now it’s only going to get worse. Check out what the network has done, see what they’ve added to their line-up (including behind-the-scenes videos), and be sure to leave your comments below!

MONDAY

8 – 8:30 PM: How I Met Your Mother

8:30 – 9 PM: Rules of Engagement

9 – 9:30 PM: Two and a Half Men

9:30 – 10 PM: Mike & Molly: a comedy from Chuck Lorre (“Two and a Half Men,” and “The Big Bang Theory”) about a working class Chicago couple who find love at an Overeaters Anonymous meeting. Officer Mike Biggs (Billy Gardell) is a good-hearted cop who sincerely wants to lose weight. Mike’s partner, Officer Carl McMillan (Reno Wilson), is a thin, fast-talking wise-guy, who despite his teasing encourages Mike on his road to slimness and romance. While speaking at an O.A. meeting, Mike meets Molly Flynn (Melissa McCarthy), an instantly likeable fourth-grade teacher with a healthy sense of humor about her curves.

For Molly, focusing on smart choices isn’t easy because she lives with her sexy older sister, Victoria (Katy Mixon), and their mother, Joyce (Swoosie Kurtz), both of whom flaunt their healthy appetites and slender figures. Mike also faces temptation at the diner he and Carl frequent, where they’ve become friends with the Senegalese waiter, Samuel (Nyambi Nyambi), who finds trying to eat less a foreign concept. For Mike and Molly, thanks to their mutual love of pie and the desire to resist it, finding each other may have been worth the “weight.” Chuck Lorre and Mark Roberts are executive producers.

10 – 11 PM: Hawaii Five-0: a contemporary take on the classic series about a new elite federalized task force whose mission is to wipe out the crime that washes up on the Islands’ sun-drenched beaches. Detective Steve McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin), a decorated Naval officer turned cop, returns to Oahu to investigate his father’s murder and stays after Hawaii’s governor persuades him to head up the new team: his rules, her backing, no red tape and full blanket immunity to hunt down the biggest “game” in town.

Joining McGarrett is Detective Danny “Danno” Williams (Scott Caan), a newly relocated ex-New Jersey cop who prefers skyscrapers to the coastline but is committed to keeping the Islands safe for his 8-year-old daughter; and Chin Ho Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim), an ex-Honolulu Police Detective wrongly accused of corruption and relegated to a federal security patrol, who is also a former protégé of McGarrett’s father. Chin’s cousin, Kono (Grace Park), is a beautiful and fearless native, fresh out of the academy and eager to establish herself among the department’s elite. McGarrett vows to bring closure to his father’s case while the state’s brash new FIVE-0 unit, who may spar and jest among themselves, is determined to eliminate the seedy elements from the 50th state. Peter Lenkov, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci are executive producers.

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TCA Press Tour: CBS Executive Session

Nina Tassler, President of CBS Entertainment, favored us with her presence this morning at the TCA tour, sitting down for an executive session which provided us with the following quotes and tidbits:

* Regarding the decision to place the new reality series “Undercover Boss” in the plum spot following the Super Bowl, she said that it was a combination of good timing and a good series. “We’re very high on the show, but we spent a lot of time talking about what the right strategy would be,” she said. “We’ve seen five or six episodes of ‘Undercover Boss’ by now, and there is a tone and a quality to the show that we felt was a great fit after the Super Bowl. It is aspirational. It is a feel-good program.
Everybody who is sitting and watching the Super Bowl, be you 8 or 80, can stay right there and enjoy the program. I think 15 years ago, that spot was used to launch new programming. Obviously, in the last 10, 15 years it’s been used more as a platform to get greater exposure for existing shows. But we thought, ‘You know what? We have a great project, we’re very high on it, and we think we’re going to launch another big-branded reality show.'”

* Obviously, NBC’s continued fall from grace via the great failure that was “The Jay Leno Show” was a topic of conversation that everyone wanted Tassler to weigh in on. “Through it all, we have to realize that ABC, CBS and FOX…we’ve all fared, I think, very well during this experimental phase for NBC,” she said. “But if we can harken back to when there was that grand proclamation about 8 o’clock at NBC…? Remember? We all wrote about that: 8 o’clock was over at NBC. They were going to have a whole different strategy developing for 8 o’clock. And then along came 10 o’clock, and they were going to have a whole different strategy for 10 o’clock. You know, I think ultimately, there is no substitute for developing great shows, working with great talent, and getting your program on the air.”

“The unfortunate thing is that our creative community was to some degree somewhat bruised by this,” she continued. “I think that the talent as this was taking place, a lot of people were put out of work. A lot of people really saw this as having a pretty negative impact on our business. But I think right now for us, it just allowed us to get a bigger piece of the ad revenue pie at 10 o’clock, and again, what I have the most trouble with is for their company, their decision to do what they did, to sort of turn that and say that his is a reflection on the whole network business, I think is misguided. Our business is thriving right now. We are enjoying success with new hit shows, as is ABC, as is FOX. So I think at the end of the day, it was an experiment that obviously did not work, but for us, like I said, there’s no substitute for just developing and producing and launching great shows.”

There’s certainly no question that a couple of CBS earned some additional success from viewers’ indifference to “The Jay Leno Show.” As Tassler observed, “We moved ‘The Mentalist’ to 10 o’clock on Thursday night and launched ‘The Good Wife,’ so 10 o’clock has been good business for us.”

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TCA Tour: “Medium”

During NBC’s portion of the January TCA press tour, I spotted “Medium” creator Glenn Gordon Caron at the network’s cocktail party. I cornered him long enough to tell him how excited I was for the series to return, then I asked him why the show hadn’t scored its own panel that day, even though the miniseries “The Last Templar” had. Caron shrugged and acknowledged that “The Last Templar” was an NBC-Universal production and “Medium” wasn’t, but if he had anything else to say about his show’s home, he was polite enough to hold his tongue.

Now that “Medium” has found a new home on CBS…well, Caron’s still polite, but he doesn’t mind acknowledging that he had some problems with the way the show was underpromoted in its time on NBC. (He also didn’t mind getting off a one-liner about how “the last time we came here, NBC made us walk here.”)

“You know, it’s so hard in this environment to launch a show and sustain a show,” Caron acknowledged. “I think we’re all incredibly grateful to NBC, we were on their air for five years, and nobody wants to take shots. I think there were times along the way when everyone, even people inside NBC, thought, ‘Gee, maybe if we gave that show a little more attention, if we publicized it a little more vigorously, it might actually do better for us and might bring more viewers to the network.’ I don’t think there’s been any great secret there. It’s been written about; it’s been talked about. Having said that, we had five fairly fruitful years at NBC. Looking back, could things have been done differently? Absolutely. Ben (Silverman), who is actually a friend, said some harsh things I’m sure he regrets about our show…and, by the way, you guys play no role in this whatsoever.”

Ahem.

Medium: Season 1 – 4.5 stars
Medium: Season 2 – 4 stars
Medium: Season 3 – 4 stars
Medium: Season 4 – 4 stars

I’m just saying: there are critics who’ve been supportive of the show, and I’m definitely one of ’em.

Okay, back to business.

“Truthfully, we’re grateful to NBC,” said Caron. “We had a nice run there. But the good news is we’re on CBS now, and for the first time in three years, we’re going to do 22 episodes. We’re beginning a season, knowing when we’re premiering: in the Fall and doing 22 episodes. And as a storyteller, that’s a huge thing. It means I can say to you, sir, ‘And on Halloween, we will be doing thus and so.’ That’s a luxury we’ve not had for three years, and those are the sorts of things that are frustrating when you’re doing a show. But it beats not working.”

Indeed, it does. But as happy as he was about bringing the show to CBS (it’s perfect, really, since it’s a CBS production, anyway), Caron did at least try to keep the show where it was by writing a cliffhanger ending to the Season 5 finale…not that the plan actually worked.

“What I was trying to do was write an ending that was so provocative that it would be impossible to cancel the show,” he explained. “You saw how that worked out. It was sort of me being a wiseguy, frankly, and really trying to stack the deck in such a way. And for what it’s worth, NBC was complicit. We don’t make the shows in secret. I said, ‘This is what I’m going to do: she’s going to have a brain tumor, she’s going to go into a coma, and we’re going to put up a sign that says, ‘To be continued.’ And they said, ‘Great.'”

Caron gave us a big scoop, by the way.

“There’s so many of you here, I guess I can let the cat out of the bag: she comes out of the coma,” he revealed, with a grin. “And she’s on a different network. It’s the damnedest thing!”

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TCA Tour: NBC Executive Session

We just had NBC-Universal Executive Session, with Angela Bromstad (President, Primetime Entertainment) and Paul Telegdy (Executive Vice President, Alternative Programming and Production) taking the stage to answer our questions, and…you know, I’ve got to be honest: it was pretty underwhelming. No surprise: the first two words of the very first question were “Ben Silverman,” and his name remained a recurring theme for the remainder of the session. It also wasn’t a surprise that the topic of Conan’s ratings and the expectation for Jay’s ratings were brought up, but it was absolutely ridiculous that neither Bromstad nor Telegdy seemed prepared to handle the queries, instead either feigning uncertainty about the numbers, offering vague responses which signified nothing, or attempting to pawn the questions off to Jay’s panel this afternoon. This immediately came back to bite Bromstad on the arse when she was asked outright if she’d be on that panel (she won’t be), and it led to one critic offering a sarcastic apology for asking questions of the wrong people.

Here’s the extent of information that I was able to glean from the panel:

* Bryan Fuller’s latest departure from “Heroes” was dismissed as being due to the fact that he’s at a point in his career where he’s really wanting to create his own shows, so NBC is focusing on their development deal with him. As for “Heroes,” Bromdstad said that Fuller helped Tim (Kring) get back on track, helped everybody decide where they were going, and that the show is doing exceptionally well creatively.

* The start of “30 Rock” has been delayed due to Alec Baldwin’s movie schedule, which is why the network is kicking off “Community” in its timeslot. The 8 PM timeslot will therefore be filled with six Thursday night “Weekend Update” specials, three of which are currently on the schedule.

* We are assured that, despite the fact that some shows which were previously airing in the 10 PM timeslot are now being moved to 9 PM out of necessity, there should be no issue with their content in their new time periods.

* The network’s new zombie series, “Day One,” is being embraced due to the sci-fi success of “Heroes.” “It’s a genre we cannot ignore,” said Bromstad, though she admitted that it does tend to be a little more of a narrow genre. Her most notable comment on the matter, however, was the acknowledgment that the network is viewing “Day One” as a “big event” for the network…but not necessarily one which would return for a second season.

* There is always talk of doing another regular “Apprentice,” but according to Telegdy, the most recent “Celebrity Apprentice” had a ratings jump from the previous, so we probably shouldn’t look for it to happen any time soon.

* “Friday Night Lights” will not be back until summer 2010. “We just think that ‘Friday Night Lights’ is a sensational show,” said Bromstad, “but it doesn’t have the ratings to justify it on the fall schedule.”

* Regarding “Southland,” the network has “incredible passion” for the future, but its future depends on how it does in the fall. “We’ve made some creative adjustments,” said Bromstad. “I feel like they tried to do too much in the first six episodes – instead of letting the audience become more familiar with characters, they became too serialized – so the show will focus on Regina King and Ben McKenzie, the crimes, and how they come together.”

* RE: “Medium,” “It was definitely a show we were considering picking up ’til the very end, but we had to make choices creatively and financially.”

* RE: “Chuck,” “The great thing is that they’re on a great track collectively. We’ve got 3 or 4 scripts in already, and it is something we can move around, but right now it’s not scheduled to come on until March.” The series has a 13 episode pick-up, and it’s possible that it could be bumped up, but “these are just discussions we’re continuing to have.”

  

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A Chat with Antonio Elias

Can you imagine being an actor who’s worked in TV for the past few years and, when you finally score your first movie gig, it’s “Star Trek”? Nice work if you can get it, as the song says, and Antonio Elias – who plays one of the officers of the Kelvin in the opening sequence of the film – will be the first to tell you that the work was very nice, indeed. We chatted with Elias about how he got into the acting game, got the story on how close he came to picking up a series-regular gig with Dylan McDermott a few years ago, found out a bit more about how “Star Trek” originally would have opened, and learned about his next film, “Spoken Word.”

Stay tuned for…

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