CBS making some noise

Picks up four bold new dramas, one comedy

CBS is swinging for the fences on the drama side and staying close to tradition on the comedy side.

On Monday, the network picked up four drama pilots to series: the musical mystery "Viva Laughlin," the partner-swapping period drama "Swingtown," the vampire crime drama "Moonlight" and the Latin family drama "Cane."

On the comedy side, CBS gave the green light to "The Big Bang Theory," a multicamera comedy from "Two and a Half Men" co-creator Chuck Lorre.

Additionally, the network ordered to series "Power of 10," a game show pilot from producer Michael Davies.

CBS also is close to picking up to series two single-camera comedy pilots: "I'm in Hell," starring Jason Biggs, and ensemble "The Captain."

On the returning front, CBS is close to bringing back the freshman comedy "Rules of Engagement" and the sophomore sitcom "The New Adventures of Old Christine." "Christine," which saw its ratings soften when it was moved from 9:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday, is rumored to get a 13-episode midseason order.

Also in negotiations to return for a third season is the military drama "The Unit." The renewal of CBS' other two sophomore dramas, "Ghost Whisperer" and "Criminal Minds," as well as the freshman "Shark," is considered a sure thing.

CBS' drama picks deliver on the network's promise going into the development season that it would step outside the CBS comfort zone of procedurals to go for bold, risky, noisy shows.

"Laughlin," from Sony Pictures TV, BBC Worldwide Prods. and CBS Paramount Network TV, stars Lloyd Owen as a family man who dreams of opening a casino in Laughlin, Nev.

"Swingtown," from CBS Par TV, is a swinging-couples drama set in the 1970s.

"Moonlight" (formerly "Twilight"), from Warner Bros. TV, stars Alex O'Loughlin as a private investigator who is a vampire.

"Cane" (formerly untitled Cynthia Cidre), from CBS Paramount Network TV and ABC Studios, stars Jimmy Smits as the head of a Latin American clan in South Florida.

Three other drama pilots — Anthony Zuiker's LL Cool J starrer "The Man," the zombie dramedy "Babylon Fields" and the Stephen Dorff starrer "Skip Tracer" — are said to be in midseason contention.

"Big Bang," from WBTV, stars Johnny Galecki and Jim Parsons as science geeks who befriend a party girl (Kaley Cuoco). The project originally was developed last season and was reworked and partially recast in the summer.The show's format and pedigree makes it a logical choice to launch behind "Men" in the 9:30 p.m. Monday slot.

"Power of 10," from Sony Pictures TV and Embassy Row Prods., features contestants competing to predict the results of nationwide surveys.

At the CW, the dramas "Gossip Girl," "Reaper" and the South Africa project seem like a lock. The comedy "Aliens in America," to be produced by CBS Par TV and WBTV, looks like the one to beat on the comedy side, with "Dash 4 Cash" and "Eight Days a Week" also in contention.