CBS unveils five series with familiar stars

MUMBAI: CBS has crafted a traditionalist's schedule, bringing in Jason Alexander, Rob Lowe and John Goodman to anchor new series.

The nation's most popular network unveiled three new dramas and two new comedies in a schedule presented to advertisers yesterday. Its five new series that are scripted features many recognizable stars, says an official press release.

Alexander will try to break the Seinfeld curse that has doomed new series featuring himself, Michael Richards and Julia Louis-Dreyfus in the last few years. In Listen Up,he'll play a character based on Washington Post sportswriter Tony Kornheiser.CBS also gave him a comfortable time slot among its hit Monday comedies."This is a very commercial vehicle for him," said CBS Chairman Leslie Moonves. Lowe, who played a lawyer last year in NBC's short-lived The Lyon's Den, will be a doctor at a Las Vegas casino in Dr. Vegas.

In Center of the Universe, Goodman plays a security company owner with Ed Asner portraying his father, Olympia Dukakis his mother and Jean Smart his wife.

The spinoff CSI: NY which was set up in a highly rated episode of CSI: Miami on Monday, will compete against NBC's franchise show Law and Order in the same Wednesday time slot. Gary Siniseand Melina Kanakaredes are the new CSI stars.

CBS is canceling the dramas Hack, ,The District and The Guardian. The comedy Yes, Dear is off the schedule, but CBS has ordered 13 episodes for a midseason replacement.The network also said it will make a midseason comedy starring Jenna Elfman, made by the creator of Dharma and Greg.

CBS also becomes the latest network to essentially punt on Saturday nights, the least-watched night of the week on broadcast television. Instead of three costly dramas, it will go a less expensive route with the news magazine 48 Hours Mysteries, the reality show The Amazing Race and CSI reruns.

With 60 Minutes founder Don Hewitt stepping down, CBS is stripping the 'II' from the Wednesday spinoff 60 Minutes II.

The fifth new series will be Clubhouse,a feel-good drama about a 16-year-old boy who becomes a batboy for the mythical New York Empires.

CBS also stepped up its rivalry with NBC on the eve of the springtime buying frenzy known as the upfront, when advertisers are expected to spend some $9 billion on commercials for next season.

CBS used personalities like Pete Rose, former California Gov. Gray Davis and Liza Minnelli in skits, and concluded their Carnegie Hall presentation with a performance by The Who.

Although CBS has the most viewers, NBC earns more ad revenue because it has more of the younger fans that advertisers prefer.

Moonves said "CBS, more than NBC, has become the network of quality programming".

Before Wednesday's sales presentation to ad buyers, CBS executives met to tone down the references they planned to make to Friends departing NBC's schedule.

They couldn't resist, however, bringing out Beatles imitators to sing They No Longer Have `Friends' to the tune of With a Little Help From My Friends.

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