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'Life' is in, 'Murder' out, 'Touched' shifted at CBS

Thursday, May 17, 2001

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

"That's Life" lives. "Diagnosis Murder" dies. So it was decreed by CBS programmers, who announced the network's new fall schedule yesterday.

"That's Life" will shift from Saturday night to 9 p.m. Friday. "Touched by an Angel" will move from its long-held Sunday night berth to 8 p.m. Saturday.

In addition to "Diagnosis Murder," the network also canceled "The Fugitive," "Kate Brasher," "Nash Bridges" and its Wednesday night movie.

Here's CBS's fall schedule with new series in bold:

SUNDAY

7 p.m.: "60 Minutes"

8 p.m.: "The Education of Max Bickford" -- A professor (Richard Dreyfuss) at an all-girls school is passed over for a promotion in favor of a former student (Marcia Gay Harden) he once had an affair with. His daughter (Katee Sackhoff) attends the school, which causes conflict, and his best friend, Steve, returns to town after a sex change operation. Steve has become Erica (Helen Shaver). Regina Taylor ("I'll Fly Away") plays the college's president.

9 p.m.: "CBS Sunday Movie"

MONDAY

8 p.m. "The King of Queens"

8:30 p.m. "Yes, Dear"

9 p.m. "Everybody Loves Raymond"

10 p.m. "Family Law"

TUESDAY

8 p.m. "JAG"

9 p.m. "The Guardian" -- Pittsburgh-set legal drama (see story on Page F-1).

10 p.m. "Judging Amy"

WEDNESDAY

8 p.m. "60 Minutes II"

9 p.m. "The Amazing Race" -- Phil Keoghan hosts this "reality" series that pits 11 teams against one another in a 30-to-40-day journey around the world.

10 p.m. "Wolf Lake" -- CBS attempts a sci-fi drama with this tale of werewolves living in a suburban Seattle town. Lou Diamond Phillips plays an agent for the Bureau of Wildlife Management who investigates the phenomenon, with Tim Matheson (Vice President Hoynes on "The West Wing") as the town's sheriff and Graham Greene ("Dances with Wolves") as a university biology professor. John Leekley ("Kindred: The Embraced") and Bernard Lechowick ("Homefront") executive produce.

THURSDAY

8 p.m. "Survivor III"

9 p.m. "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation"

10 p.m. "The Agency" -- Ronny Cox ("Perfect Murder, Perfect Town") commands a team of overworked CIA agents, led by Gil Bellows ("Ally McBeal"). Rocky Carroll ("Chicago Hope"), Paige Turco ("Party of Five") and David Clennon ("thirtysomething," "Once and Again") also star in this series from film director Wolfgang Peterson ("Air Force One") and producer Shaun Cassidy ("Cover Me").

FRIDAY

8 p.m. "The Ellen Show" -- A gay Internet executive (Ellen DeGeneres) returns to her hometown where her high school prom date (Jim Gaffigan) thinks they can pick up where they left off. Cloris Leachman stars as DeGeneres' mother, and Martin Mull plays a former high school teacher.

8:30 p.m. "American Wreck" -- Daniel Stern ("City Slickers") plays a single father of two who runs a community center.

9 p.m. "That's Life"

10 p.m. "48 Hours"

SATURDAY

8 p.m. "Touched by an Angel"

9 p.m. "Citizen Baines" -- A prominent, three-term U.S. senator (James Cromwell) returns to his family's Seattle home (hope he doesn't encounter werewolves) after a surprise loss in his re-election bid. His three adult daughters live in the area and don't quite know how to react. Ellen (Embeth Davidtz) is a lawyer considering a move into politics, Reeva (Jane Adams) is a mother with turmoil on the home front, and Dori (Jacinda Barrett) still doesn't know what she wants out of life. "ER" veterans John Wells, Lydia Woodward and Christopher Chulack executive produce.

10 p.m. "The District"



MORE ABC SHOWS: Tuesday ABC announced the long-in-development "reality" series "The Runner" won't debut until January. "The Court," a drama starring Sally Field as a liberal Supreme Court justice, also will debut at midseason. "The Wayne Brady Show," a new variety series starring the "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" improv comic, will have a limited run in August.



MORE WB SHOWS: The WB finally will air a series announced a year ago. "Dead Last" will air Tuesday nights at 9 p.m. this summer (no premiere date announced). It chronicles the misadventures of a rock band whose members get the power to see spirits that walk the Earth.

Midseason programs next season include:

Reality show "No Boundaries" will follow contestants as they cross more than 1,000 miles of North America's most rugged terrain on a 30-day journey.

Single-camera comedy "A Young Person's Guide to Becoming a Rock Star" is adapted from a popular British series about an aspiring rock star (Oliver Hudson) with a heavy metal dinosaur dad (John Lydon, a k a Johnny Rotten of The Sex Pistols).



RESCHEDULED: That "Dateline NBC" report on W. Michael Altman, who is accused of bilking a West Mifflin congregation out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, got bumped Monday night by a more timely story. It's now scheduled to air June 1.



EXCELLENT WORK: A few weeks ago I mentioned how impressed I was when WPXI had a video obituary ready to roll when Willie Stargell died. But Channel 11 topped itself last Thursday when the guilty verdict in the Richard Baumhammers case came down during the 5:30 p.m. half-hour.

WPXI reported the verdict before its competitors by a minute or two, but that's not what I'm talking about. Who reports the news first is of little interest to me.

But Channel 11's handling of the story was impressive. The station had a package ready to go about the time line of the case, which effectively filled time while they gathered more facts and lined up interviews.

Within the 20 minutes that followed, Channel 11 had live reaction from a witness to Baumhammers' shooting rampage, an update on the civil lawsuits against him, a phone interview with an Anti-Defamation League spokesman, an interview with a legal analyst, a rebroadcast of an interview with a victim who survived the shooting and a phone interview with someone who organized a peace rally after the shooting.

That's a lot in a brief time.

Other stations fumbled around more and didn't seem to have concrete plans for coverage. After reporting the verdict, KDKA ran an interview with "Survivor: The Australian Outback" runner-up Colby about his thoughts on Hometown Hottie Amber Brkich.

Channel 11 was prepared and acted professionally in a pressure-filled breaking news situation.

Kudos to the technical folks at Channel 11, especially the newscast's director; transitions were smooth and live shots were on cue.

Did the station go on too long with the story? Perhaps. By the time the 6 p.m. news began and viewers were promised "we will bring you the latest coming up in a live report" there wasn't much left to say. Regardless, Channel 11 had its act together when it counted.


You can reach Rob Owen at rowen@post-gazette.com Post questions or comments to www.post-gazette.com/tv under TV Forum.

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