CBS is canceling its Sunday movie in favor of two successful crime procedurals and will add a new Thursday series next fall with James Woods portraying a defense attorney who becomes a prosecutor.
As the most stable and successful broadcast network, CBS is adding only four new programs to next season’s schedule.
“We’re taking some swings, but we’re taking swings in an environment of strength,” said CBS Corp. President Leslie Moonves on Wednesday.
The end of CBS’ Sunday movie means that none of the major broadcast networks will have a regularly scheduled movie night. CBS has aired a movie on Sundays since the 1986-87 television season.
Many of CBS’ Sunday movies were aimed at older women, an audience largely taken away by ABC’s “Desperate Housewives,” and most new approaches didn’t work, Moonves said. A handful of Hallmark-sponsored movies will air next season as specials.
After “60 Minutes,” CBS’ reconfigured Sunday lineup has “The Amazing Race,” “Cold Case” and “Without a Trace” — a top 10 hit that’s moving from 10 p.m. Thursdays. Sundays will be transformed next fall when NBC begins airing football games and ABC moves “Grey’s Anatomy” to Thursdays.
“It is going to be a night where we are up considerably,” Moonves said.
He also touted “60 Minutes,” which will include contributions from Katie Couric and Anderson Cooper starting next fall, and more stories from Lara Logan.
“It’s not your mother’s ‘60 Minutes,”’ he said. “We’ve reduced the average age from 85 to 82. It’s a much younger, much hipper show. It’s a much more relevant ‘60 Minutes’ than it’s ever been.’
The “Shark” pilot with Woods, directed by Spike Lee, will get that coveted 10 p.m. Thursday time slot following “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.” Even though “Survivor” ratings are fading, Moonves said CBS gave no consideration to moving the show off Thursdays.
Besides the movie, CBS is canceling the comedies “Out of Practice” and “Courting Alex.” The long-running comedy “King of Queens” is not on the fall schedule, but will return in midseason for its last year.
CBS’s only new comedy, “The Class,” is from “Friends” writer David Crane and will feature a group of former third-grade classmates reunited in their 20s. It will be one of the four comedies CBS airs on Monday, the only night it has comedy on the schedule.
The other two new CBS dramas are “Smith,” starring Ray Liotta as a career criminal and produced by John Wells of “ER” and “The West Wing,” and “Jericho,” about a Kansas town whose residents wonder if they’re the only survivors when they see a mushroom cloud on the horizon.
Although CBS will end the current TV season clearly as the nation’s top-rated network, Moonves acknowledged a little envy at sensations on other networks like “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Lost.”
“There was an attitude of ‘we don’t get as much noise as anybody else,”’ he said. “We’re human. We like the buzz. Although we like to win more.”