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CBS eyes up dramas; Pax offers 4 new shows

Thursday, May 16, 2002

By Barbara Vancheri, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

CBS is adding five dramas -- heavy on cops and docs -- and two comedies to its fall schedule, while canceling "Family Law," "First Monday" and "The Education of Max Bickford" and bouncing "Baby Bob" to midseason.

While the lineup on some nights, such as Tuesday, will remain unchanged, the network is tinkering with other evenings. "Becker," for instance, moves to Sundays at 8:30 p.m., following a new comedy called "Bram and Alice" starring Alfred Molina and Traylor Howard as scoundrel novelist and fan who learn they are father and daughter.

The eye network is paying special attention to its 10 p.m. slots on Mondays and Thursdays. "CSI: Miami," starring onetime "NYPD Blue" cop David Caruso as a Florida forensic investigator (fetch the sunblock), will cap off comedy-heavy Monday. On Thursday, the network is taking on "ER" with Jerry Bruckheimer's new drama, "Without a Trace," about the FBI's missing persons squad.

In announcing the schedule, the network said it had potential for growth every night. "We are using our current hits to build new hits, there are established returning programs leading off every night of the week, and it's the best lineup of 10 p.m. dramas we've had in years," CBS president Leslie Moonves said.

Boasting that the series are "stylish and cool" -- words not always associated with CBS -- Moonves called the roster of actors and show-runners unrivaled. They certainly include some A-listers such as Andre Braugher.

CBS wasn't alone in laying its cards on the table. Pax TV announced four new series, starring a mix of TV veterans such as Richard Thomas and Peter Strauss and newcomers.

"In an environment where expectations remain high in prime time, you have to deliver the best product possible, Paxson president Jeff Sagansky said. "We're very confident that these four series will be breakout hits for Pax and give us the star power we need to expand our audience and keep Pax fans coming back for more."

Today, Fox and the UPN will reveal their fall picks. Here's the CBS fall schedule, with new series in bold:

Sunday

7 p.m.: "60 Minutes"

8 p.m.: "Bram and Alice" -- Alfred Molina plays a Pulitzer Prize-winning author who has coasted on his reputation for years but is still required reading on college campuses. Alice O'Connor (Traylor Howard) is an idealistic young woman on the verge of giving up her dream of becoming a writer and returning to Vermont when she learns her idol is her father.

8:30 p.m.: "Becker"

9 p.m.: "CBS Sunday Night Movie"

Monday

8 p.m.: "The King of Queens"

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

9 p.m.: "Everybody Loves Raymond"

9:30 p.m.: "Still Standing" -- Mark Addy, the chubby chap from "The Full Monty," and Jami Gertz, recently Gilda Radner in a TV movie, are a blue-collar Chicago couple trying to raise three children without losing sight of their own youthfulness in this comedy.

10 p.m.: "CSI: Miami" -- David Caruso, Emily Procter, Rory Cochrane, Adam Rodriguez and Khandi Alexander star in a drama inspired by the hit "CSI." Here, Caruso is a former homicide detective who heads a group of crime scene investigators.

Tuesday

8 p.m.: "JAG"

9 p.m.: "The Guardian"

10 p.m.: "Judging Amy"

Wednesday

8 p.m.: "60 Minutes II"

9 p.m.: "The Amazing Race"

10 p.m.: "Presidio Med" -- Blythe Danner, Dana Delany, Anna Deavere Smith, Sasha Alexander, Julianne Nicholson and Oded Fehr ("The Mummy") star in a medical drama about physicians who run a tight-knit group practice adjacent to a San Francisco hospital. CBS promises us they "set bureaucracy aside and put patients first." Supply your own wisecrack.

Thursday

8 p.m.: "Survivor"

9 p.m.: "CSI"

10 p.m.: "Without a Trace" -- Anthony LaPaglia, Enrique Murciano, Poppy Montgomery, Marianne Jean-Baptiste and Eric Close headline a fast-paced procedural drama about the FBI's missing persons squad. Among their duties is to reconstruct a "DOD" or "Day of Disappearance" timeline.

Friday

8 p.m.: "48 Hours Investigates" -- Dan Rather bows out, but this show gets a new look and focus on "crimes that cry out for justice and ... stories of those trying to solve them."

9 p.m.: "Hack" -- David Morse is a decorated police officer who is fired for taking money from a crime scene. He becomes a taxi driver dealing with a volatile boss (Mark Margolis) and his former partner (Andre Braugher).

10 p.m.: "RHD/LA" -- The first acronym stands for the Robbery and Homicide Division of the LAPD. It's headed by Tom Sizemore and counts Michael Mann as executive producer.

Saturday

8 p.m.: "Touched by an Angel"

9 p.m.: "The District"

10 p.m.: "The Agency"

Midseason

CBS has ordered one drama for midseason. It's "Queens Supreme," starring Oliver Platt, Robert Loggia and Annabella Sciorra in a seriocomic drama set at the Queens courthouse in New York. They're all judges with varying levels of experience, political connections and conformity.

Pax's four new series:

"Body & Soul" -- Peter Strauss and Daphne Zuniga star in a medical drama about two very different approaches. He runs Century Hospital's surgical ward with an iron fist and adherence to conventional medicine. She is a medical maverick with a mind-body-spirit approach. After premiering on a Sunday, Sept. 8, at 9 p.m., this will settle into Mondays at 9 p.m.

"Just Cause" -- Gabrielle Fitzpatrick is a single mom who spent five years in prison for a crime she didn't commit but earned a law degree along the way. Once released, she talks her way into an assistant's job at a law firm, which is where she finds Richard Thomas. After a two-hour premiere Sept. 15 at 9 p.m., this will air Tuesdays at 9 p.m.

"Lip Service" -- Based on the true story of Sue Thomas, this light-hearted action drama follows a young and somewhat sheltered woman new to the FBI. When her ability to read lips is discovered, she's promoted to an elite surveillance team. Stars newcomer Deanne Bray, an actress who is deaf. Airs Sundays at 9 p.m. starting in mid-October.

"Young Blades" -- Cross-dressing on Pax? Apparently so. This is an adventure series about the son of the musketeer D'Artagnan, along with his pal Jacques. But Jacques is really Jacqueline, a woman masquerading as a man to save her life. Premieres in early November.

Pax will pick up full orders on four of its signature series: "Doc," "It's a Miracle," "Candid Camera" and "Miracle Pets." It also will present more than 30 original movies of the week. They will air in two new showcases, "Pax Friday Night Family Flix" and "Pax Saturday Night Mystery Movie."


Rob Owen's column will return next week. Post questions or comments to www.post-gazette.com/tv under TV Forum.

Thursday, May 16, 2002

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