CBS network adds more comedy to its fall schedule

NEW YORK (AP) -- At a time when sitcoms seem like a fading art, CBS is staying on the laugh track.

The network said Wednesday it will air six comedies instead of four next fall. CBS has confined its comedies to Mondays in recent years, but will air Julia Louis-Dreyfus' "The New Adventures of Old Christine" and a new comedy with Jay Mohr as a recently divorced painter on Wednesdays.

"Expanding our comedy block is something we've wanted to do for a long time," CBS scheduling chief Kelly Kahl said, "and this year we had the horses to do it."

CBS, which announced its schedule to advertisers Wednesday, canceled the drama "Shark" and the gothic thriller "Moonlight." The network will move "Without a Trace" to Tuesday and "The Unit" to Sunday.

CBS renewed "How I Met Your Mother," a show with a questionable future until guest shots by Britney Spears gave it some juice this spring. The second new comedy, "Worst Week," is a single-camera show about a bungling magazine editor. The comedy "Rules of Engagement" will be back midseason.

CBS, which is likely to drop to second behind Fox after several years as the nation's most popular network, will add three dramas in the fall.

"Eleventh Hour" is from the production team behind "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" and won the Thursday 10 p.m. ET time slot behind that hit. It's about a brilliant biophysicist who helps the government investigate scientific crises.

"The Ex List" stars Elizabeth Reaser of "Grey's Anatomy" as a woman told by a fortune teller that she must marry within a year or be single forever. The catch: She's already met the man she'll marry, she just doesn't know it yet.

Simon Baker stars in "The Mentalist," about a former celebrity psychic who becomes a detective and uses his expertise at reading people to solve crimes.

Unlike ABC, which said its development process was hurt by the 100-day writers strike and will air only two new shows in the fall, CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler said "it did not derail us at all."

Network executives spent much of their time during the strike scanning the globe for programming ideas; "The Ex List" is a remake of a successful series in Israel.

"Moonlight," which has a small but devoted fan base, was a tough call to cancel, but Tassler said CBS was influenced by its experience with "Jericho." Fans of the drama inundated CBS with mail after it was canceled last year, and the network brought it back. But the show didn't expand its audience and was axed again.

CBS will work with its drama producers to bring more of the characters' personal lives into the shows, she said.


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