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Jan 17, 2004  •  Post A Comment

CBS Renews Four Freshman Series Plus ‘Survivor’

CBS renewed four of its freshman series for a second season. Sitcom “Two and a Half Men” and dramas “Cold Case,” “Joan of Arcadia” and “Navy NCIS” got the early nods from CBS Chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves, who made the announcement at CBS’s Television Critics Association session today in Hollywood.

CBS also ordered a ninth and tenth season of reality hit “Survivor,” immediately following a session on “Survivor: All Stars” with host Jeff Probst and executive producer Mark Burnett. During that session, Mr. Burnett said a ninth season hadn’t been ordered and the all-star edition might be a great way to end the franchise.

That was a very fleeting thought, however, as Mr. Moonves ordered a ninth and tenth edition from Mr. Burnett in the hallway of the Renaissance Hotel after the session. CBS had previously given the go-ahead on casting for the ninth edition.The freshman series pickups combined with well performing sophomore series “CSI: Miami,” “Without a Trace” and “Still Standing” had Mr. Moonves touting the fact that CBS has seven young successful series that will be on the schedule for years to come. “To get on this schedule next season, you’ll have to be damn good,” he said.

CBS, which is the No. 1 network in total viewers, has also improved in the adults 18 to 49 demo even though that’s not the network’s target, Mr. Moonves said. CBS is only three-tenths of a ratings point away from first place in the demo.

“We are certainly not the geezer network anymore,” Mr. Moonves said.

While the network has been on a ratings upswing this season, it’s also been embroiled in several controversies, which Mr. Moonves addressed in his opening remarks to critics.

On “The Reagans”: “I stand by my decision and I respect those who disagree,” said Mr. Moonves, who pulled the miniseries from CBS’s air after viewing the completed project because he did not feel it was fair and balanced.”

On Michael Jackson: CBS pulled a Michael Jackson entertainment special after Mr. Jackson was arrested on child molestation charges, saying they would consider airing it after the legal system had run its course. However, the network then aired it a few weeks later after Mr. Jackson gave an exclusive interview about the child molestation charges to Ed Bradley on “60 Minutes,” leading critics to charge that CBS paid for a CBS News interview.

Mr. Moonves denied that was the case. “CBS did not pay for the Ed Bradley interview with Michael Jackson,” he said. “CBS licensed an entertainment special from Michael Jackson, nothing more.”

Mr. Moonves said he did change his mind on airing the special before Mr. Jackson’s legal situation was resolved because Mr. Jackson agreed to address the charges.

On Donald Trump: Earlier this week during an NBC press tour session for “The Apprentice,” Mr. Trump called Mr. Moonves “the most overrated person in television.” Mr. Moonves said he was surprised by the comments, but “I like Donald. We’ve always had a cordial relationship,” he said. “I’m going to take the high road and just chalk up his behavior to having one really bad hair day.”

When asked if he would recuse himself from decisions regarding “The Early Show,” given his personal relationship with host Julie Chen, Mr. Moonves said, “[CBS News President] Andrew [Heyward] and I have worked out a system where it is fine.” He would not reveal what that system is, saying that he wouldn’t talk about internal politics at the network.

While the rest of the broadcast networks have talked this week about how the rules of the television business have changed and how they are combating that with summer launches and short term event series, Mr. Moonves said CBS — the only network to show growth this year — plans to stay the course. “We’re doing just fine playing by the same old rules,” he said.

In other news from CBS:

— CBS is spinning off another “CSI” series for fall 2004: “CSI: New York.” The new show will be spun off from an episode of “CSI: Miami” that will air in May. Original “CSI” creators Anthony Zuicker, Ann Donahue and Carol Mendelsohn will executive produce. Mr. Zuicker will be the showrunner for “New York.”

— Midseason drama “Century City” will premiere Tuesday, March 16 from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m., while “The Guardian” takes a break until April 27. New sitcom “The Stones” will debut Wednesday, March 17, from 9:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.

— CBS is still negotiating with star Ray Romano and creator “Phil Rosenthal” to bring “Everybody Loves Raymond” back for another year. “We’re using every argument in the book,” Mr. Moonves said, including that the hit sitcom will get lost in the shuffle if this year is its last since it’s the last year of “Friends,” “Frasier” and “Sex and the City.”

— CBS renewed “The Tony Awards” for six more years and “The Kennedy Center Honors” for five more years.