CBS Executives Are Bullish on Comedy

Cliff Lipson/CBS

New sitcom "How to Be a Gentleman" will face Fox’s "The X Factor," but network executives say the Simon Cowell singing competition show was not something they “could run away from.”

CBS will bow two new series Thursdays this fall into the teeth of Simon Cowell’s The X Factor, which will air Wednesdays and Thursdays this fall.

Comedy How to Be a Gentleman will air Thursdays at 8:30 p.m., where it will get a lift from a Big Bang Theory lead-in. And J.J. AbramsPerson of Interest will air at 9 p.m. leading into The Mentalist.

CBS Entertainment president Nina Tassler declined to speculate whether The X Factor would be another “death star” -- the moniker she gave American Idol.

“I don’t make predictions,” she said. “We don’t know what’s in store. We know Big Bang has a loyal following.”

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Scheduling chief Kelly Kahl added that the network’s comedies and dramas traditionally “hold up really well against Idol. “I think [X Factor] will probably do well for [Fox],” he added. “But it’s not something that we can run away from.”

CBS is looking to stock the shelves with the next generation of dramas and comedies. The network ordered two sitcoms -- Gentleman and Two Broke Girls -- and four dramas for the 2011-12 season. Three of the dramas  -- Unforgettable, Person of Interest and A Gifted Man -- will bow in the fall, while the cop drama The 2-2 is targeted for midseason.

Tassler said the network is also likely to pick up two additional comedies in development.

The heavy slate -- and the axing of several series including Criminal Minds spinoff Suspect Behavior, $#*! My Dad Says, Mad Love and The Defenders -- was a result of a strong development season, said CBS executives.

“It was a very competitive year,” said Tassler. “We really wanted to develop some strong signature CBS comedies. And we did. We told everybody who was developing [for] CBS, it’s going to be very competitive. We shot seven drama pilots. All seven of them could have been on the schedule.”

Five of the seven dramas have been picked up, including the Sarah Michelle Gellar vehicle Ringer, which went to sister network the CW.

“There’s a core stability to our schedule that nobody else can match,” said Kahl. “We had shows that were essentially demanding to be put on the schedule.”

CBS will launch Two Broke Girls after How I Met Your Mother Mondays at 8:30 p.m., while the rest of the Monday schedule stays the same, including Two and A Half Men, which heads into its ninth season with Ashton Kutcher replacing Charlie Sheen.
Unforgettable, a police drama from Without A Trace writer/producer Ed Redlich, will air Tuesdays at 10 p.m. after NCIS: Los Angeles. The Good Wife, which has been airing there, will relocate to Sundays at 9 p.m., where it will face ABC’s aging but still formidable Desperate Housewives.

“We know we have a loyal fan base and Desperate Housewives has been there for a while,” said Tassler, adding that next season the network will be more “strategic” and “creative” with marketing and promoting The Good Wife. The show -- which had its second season finale last night -- won its time period in total viewers and the 25-54 demographic this season. But NBC’s The Voice is now clobbering the competition on Tuesdays.

The Good Wife, said Tassler, “is the best drama on television, hands down. We believe in that. The viewers tell us that.”

Twitter: @MarisaGuthrie