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Tuned In: CBS shuffles shows and cranks up crime

Thursday, May 15, 2003

Don't expect to receive a change of address card in the mail, but a few CBS favorites will pack their bags and leave their long-established time slots this fall.

The network unveiled its new prime-time schedule yesterday, which features seven new series. Two veteran shows will move to new time slots to serve as launching pads for freshmen series.

"The King of Queens" will anchor Wednesday night, and "JAG" moves to Friday while a "JAG" spin-off takes its place Tuesday.

Three of the five dramas CBS ordered are crime shows, adding to a lineup that's already heavily weighted toward procedural crime shows.

"There is a lot of crime, but crime is still working," said CBS chairman and chief executive officer Leslie Moonves at a press briefing yesterday. " 'Without a Trace' has got a bullet in it, it's going up. 'CSI' is still working, so we think these [new] shows can do the same thing."

Canceled series include "The Agency," "Becker," "My Big Fat Greek Life," "Presidio Med" and "Queens Supreme." Contrary to rumors circulating in press accounts and online earlier this week, "The Guardian" will not move to Saturday but stay put in its Tuesday time slot.

Moonves would not comment on published reports that turmoil between "Greek Life" star Nia Vardalos and network executives led to the show's cancellation.

"You saw the ratings and you saw the show," he said.

Moonves said discussions are still ongoing about the future of "Becker" -- don't hold your breath waiting for it to return -- and "Star Search" may be back to fill holes when some of the new shows inevitably fail. Otherwise, CBS announced no mid-season pickups.

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

Sunday

7 p.m.: "60 Minutes"

8 p.m.: "Cold Case" -- The only female detective on the Philadelphia homicide squad, Lilly Rush (Kathryn Morris) finds her calling when she's assigned to unsolved crimes (a k a "cold cases"). Jerry Bruckheimer ("CSI," "Without a Trace") is among the show's executive producers.

9 p.m. "CBS Sunday Movie"

Monday

8 p.m.: "Yes, Dear"

8:30 p.m. "Still Standing"

9 p.m.: "Everybody Loves Raymond"

9:30 p.m. "Two and a Half Men" -- A wealthy bachelor (Charlie Sheen) finds his swinging lifestyle disrupted when his brother (Jon Cryer) and nephew move into his beachfront home. Blythe Danner plays their socialite mother.

10 p.m.: "CSI: Miami"

Tuesday

8 p.m.: "Navy CIS" -- Basically it's "CSI: JAG," as Mark Harmon leads a team of agents in the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. Michael Weatherly ("Dark Angel"), David McCallum ("The Man from U.N.C.L.E.") and Pauley Perrette also star in this spin-off from "JAG." Several of the characters were introduced in a recent "JAG" episode in what's known as a back-door pilot.

9 p.m.: "The Guardian"

10 p.m.: "Judging Amy"

Wednesday

8 p.m.: "60 Minutes II"

9 p.m. "The King of Queens"

9:30 p.m. "The Stones" -- Robert Klein and Judith Light play divorcing but still friendly parents who live in the same house with their grown children (Jay Baruchel, "Undeclared"; Lindsay Sloane, "Grosse Pointe"). This sitcom comes from the executive producers of "Will & Grace."

10 p.m.: "The Brotherhood of Poland, N.H." -- Three brothers -- played by Randy Quaid, Brian Haley and John Carroll Lynch -- live in a small town but struggle with big-city problems. Because this is a David E. Kelley show, one brother's teenage daughter (Angela Goethals, "Do Over") is sleeping with her high school teacher.

Thursday

8 p.m.: "Survivor: Pearl Islands"

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

10 p.m.: "Without a Trace"

Friday

8 p.m.: "Joan of Arcadia" -- This family drama, headed by Joe Mantegna ("The Last Don") and Mary Steenburgen ("Ink") as the parents, focuses on daughter Joan (Amber Tamblyn, "The Ring"), who keeps meeting people who introduce themselves as God and give her specific directions. Joan heeds the advice but keeps her secret in an attempt to remain a "normal" teen. Series comes from Barbara Hall, creator of "Judging Amy."

9 p.m.: "JAG"

10 p.m.: "The Handler" ,Joe Pantoliano ("The Sopranos") trains FBI agents played by Hill Harper ("City of Angels"), Lola Glaudini ("The Sopranos") and Tanya Wright.

Saturday

8 p.m. "48 Hours Investigates"

9 p.m. "Hack"

10 p.m. "The District"

'Homefront' back on TV

An alert viewer e-mailed this week to let me know my all-time favorite show -- and a favorite of many others based on the e-mails and phone calls I've gotten over the years -- is back on the air.

"Homefront," which was canceled by ABC 10 years ago this month, now airs on GoodLife TV Network, an obscure cable channel that bills itself as "For Baby Boomers ... About Baby Boomers." GoodLife is available on some Comcast systems in the digital premier tier at Channel 123 and on some Adelphia systems on Channel 110. The network does not appear on channel lineups for either major satellite service.

Set in post-World War II Ohio, the two-season "Homefront" chronicled the lives and loves of families of different classes and races. Previously it aired in the spring of 2000 on TV Land.

Evidently "Homefront" has been running on GoodLife since last summer, but the network doesn't communicate with TV reporters a whole lot.

Based on the Good Life Web site, it appears the serialized "Homefront" is currently in the middle of its first season, with episodes first airing at 11 p.m. Wednesdays and repeating at 10 p.m. the following Monday. I tried to learn whether the series will run again from the beginning, but a publicist for the network did not return repeated calls for comment.

Kids trade 'Spaces'

Since Discovery Networks took over programming of NBC's Saturday morning kids block, they've imported kid-size versions of several Discovery Channel and TLC favorites.

Now TLC's biggest hit gets a pint-size makeover in "Trading Spaces: Boys vs. Girls" (11 a.m. Saturday, WPXI).

I never had much appreciation for "Trading Spaces" until my friend Joanne visited last month, forced me to watch several episodes and gave me the background on the designers and their tastes or lack thereof. Now I understand the show's addictive appeal.

"Boys vs. Girls" uses the same format -- although there appears to be no $1,000 budget as in the original -- but introduces a new host and cast of designers and carpenters. Mercifully, the length of this "Trading Spaces" is cut to a half-hour. In this weekend's premiere, the kids just aren't articulate enough to warrant any more time than that. But they do end up with a couple of nicely redesigned bedrooms.


You can reach Rob Owen at 412-263-2582 orrowen@post-gazette.com . Post questions or comments to www.post-gazette.com/tv under TV Forum.

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