Upfronts 2012: CBS makes bold moves, TBS touts 'Cougar Town'
NEW YORK -- Coming off a season in which it finished first in viewers and made gains in all key demographics, CBS unveiled a fall schedule that features just four new shows but does take some risks by relocating a couple of established hits.
"We have one goal, that is just to continue making hit TV shows," said CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler. In a subtle dig at critics who often praise low-rated shows on other broadcast and cable channels and dismiss CBS' popular shows, Tassler said, "We don't get confused, we don't get sidetracked," and added that the network wants to "create television stars."
CBS is coming off a season in which it averaged 11.75 million viewers in prime time, a gain of 1%. Among the coveted adults 18-49 demographic, CBS grew 3% and is now just two-tenths of a ratings point behind the leader, Fox.
"Momentum is on our side right now," said CBS senior executive vice president Kelly Kahl.
In something of a surprise, CBS is moving its freshman comedy "Two Broke Girls" from its 8:30 p.m. Monday time slot to a half-hour later at 9 p.m., which has been the longtime home of "Two and a Half Men."
That shows an incredible amount of confidence in "Two Broke Girls" and an acknowledgement that there is more upside in that program than there is in the aging "Two and a Half Men," which is moving to Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. Although "Two and a Half Men" survived the replacement of Charlie Sheen with Ashton Kutcher, its ratings dipped this season after a strong start. Now it will be in what is known in the industry as a "protected time period" because it will have the smash hit "The Big Bang Theory" in front of it at 8 p.m.
CBS will launch three new dramas and one comedy this fall. The comedy, "Partners," is from "Will and Grace" creators David Kohan and Max Mutchnick and is about two best friends and business partners who see their relationship change when one becomes engaged. CBS has scheduled it on Mondays at 8:30 p.m. between "How I Met Your Mother" and "Two Broke Girls."
On the drama front, CBS' big bet is "Elementary" a modern-day take on Sherlock Holmes starring Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu. It will air on Thursdays at 10 p.m. Dennis Quaid is also making his TV debut in "Vegas," about legendary Las Vegas Sherrif Ralph Lamb. Michael Chiklis, best known from FX's gritty "The Shield" also stars. The network's third drama is "Made in Jersey," about a working-class lawyer who tries to fit into a stuffy Manhattan law firm.
CBS is also reducing its reliance on the "CSI" franchise. Gone is "CSI Miami" starring David Caruso, but the original "CSI" and "CSI New York" remain.
The network also got attention for a move it didn't make, keeping its critially acclaimed legal drama "The Good Wife" in its Sunday 9 p.m. slot. The show had originally launched on Tuesday nights at 10 p.m., but last season the network moved it to Sunday, hoping to broaden its audience. However, that wasn't the case and many fans were hoping the network would move it back to its old time slot, where it wasn't competing against so many other shows targeting the same upscale demographic.
In addition, CBS announced two midseason shows -- a drama called "Golden Boy," about a New York police officer who becomes the city's youngest police commissioner, and a comedy called "Friend Me," about two friends who relocate from Indiana to Los Angeles and struggle to adjust to the fast lane.
Turner Entertainment Networks, parent of cable channels TBS and TNT also presented its programming to advertisers at New York's Hammerstein Ballroom.
TNT announced series that include the medical drama "Monday Mornings" and two more unscripted series, in addition to its soon-to-be-launched "The Great Escape."
TBS, meanwhile, touted its new competition series "King of the Nerds" and the newly green-lighted "Deon Cole's Black Box" -- in the vein of "The Soup" and "Tosh 2.0" -- and "Who Gets the Last Laugh?" That's in addition to its acquisition of ABC's "Cougar Town," which will roll out in 2013.
"Everyone at 'Cougar Town' is thrilled to be part of the home at TBS," star Courtney Cox told the crowd.
Also announced Wednesday was a collaboration initiative among TBS, Adult Swim (along with select Turner digital properties) and the website Funny Or Die to help boost the digital content provider's sales. The deal gives Turner Broadcasting a minority equity stake in the humor site, and makes the broadcaster's sales team the exclusive seller of advertising opportunities with Funny Or Die.
-- Joe Flint and Yvonne Villarreal
Photo: Kat Dennings, left, and Beth Behrs star in "2 Broke Girls. Credit: Darren Michaels / Warner Bros.