CBS: Looking for a Good New Female-Driven Sitcom

May 16, 2005  •  Post A Comment

While CBS Chairman Leslie Moonves is famously secretive about his company’s plans, insiders said they are certain CBS will incorporate a fresh female-driven sitcom into its new season schedule.

“From the [former CBS sitcom] `Murphy Brown’ days, it’s turned into all guys on the net,” one talent agent said.

Insiders said two pilots in particular-both starring female ex-sitcom stars-are strong contenders for restoring a woman’s touch to the network’s comedy lineup. Touchstone’s “Everything I Know About Men,” led by former “Dharma & Greg” star Jenna Elfman, and Warner Bros.’ “Old Christine,” starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus (“Seinfeld”), both fit the bill.

“These kinds of shows are going to have better shots,” the agent said. “[Mr. Moonves] really wants to have a female lead.”

CBS declined to comment for this story, but television business insiders said other contenders include 20th Century Fox’s “Susie,” starring “Curb Your Enthusiasm” co-star Susie Essman, and an untitled Sony/Paramount sitcom starring Tiffani Thiessen.

A female-centric sitcom could find a home on Monday nights, where the 8:30 half-hour is in play if rookie “Listen Up” is moved or canceled. More likely, insiders said, such a series would land at 9:30, in the post-“Two and a Half Men” Monday night slot, once “Men” moves to “Everybody Loves Raymond’s” 9 p.m. anchor position.

If the network cancels “60 Minutes II,” opening up the 8 p.m. Wednesday hour for comedies, two distaff-leaning sitcoms might work there as well.

On the drama side, CBS faces a choice between betting on the type of fare that has worked for the network lately and rolling the dice on a new strategy. Traditional procedural drama pilots such as Warner Bros.’ “Conviction” and Touchstone’s “Quantico” are in the vein of the successful “CSI” franchise and “Cold Case.” But the more character-driven “Love Monkey” from Sony Pictures Television and sister Viacom company Paramount Network Television’s “Commuters” are said to be well received.

“These are not your typical CBS shows,” the agent said. “Whether they are going to program that stuff is up in the air.”

Until CBS takes the upfront stage, though, those final decisions likely will remain a mystery-and one that’s probably more closely held than those of any other network.

As for CBS executives’ leanings when it comes to the network’s pilots, “They don’t tell anybody anything-are you kidding me?” said the talent agent. “What you learn is very little.”