CBS picks up spec from 'HIMYM' creators

Network also orders dramas from Brett Ratner, Ed Redlich

The new comedy project from "How I Met Your Mother" creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas is going to CBS.

The network has swooped in to pre-emptively to buy the hot spec by Bays, Thomas and "HIMYM" writer-producers Kourtney Kang and Joe Kelly. It's now titled "Livin' on a Prayer."

Additionally, CBS has ordered three drama pilots: "Chaos," from executive producer Brett Ratner, and an untitled procedural from Ed Redlich ("Without a Trace") and legal drama "Defenders."

CBS landed the new Bays/Thomas comedy hours after the network gave the duo's "HIMYM" an early sixth-season renewal despite strong interest from other networks.

The deal with 20th TV is said to include a premium license fee as well as a large penalty if "Prayer" doesn't go to series.

Set in Pittsburgh, "Prayer" is a hybrid multicamera romantic comedy revolving around a young couple and their friends. Bays called the show "similar tonally to 'HIMYM' " and one that investigates "the next stage of adulthood."

"Prayer" will be shot in the same style as "HIMYM," and "HIMYM" director/exec producer Pamela Fryman, who helmed the pilot for "HIMYM," is set do the same for the new show.

The pilot pickup for "Prayer" brings up the possibility that CBS' Monday lineup could be divided into two hourlong blocks next fall: one controlled by "Two and a Half Men" and "Big Bang Theory" mastermind Chuck Lorre and one ruled by Bays and Thomas with "HIMYM" and the potential new series.

The "Prayer" order comes on the heels of Bays and Thomas inking a rich new deal with 20th TV and marks the third comedy spec fielded by the studio to earn a pilot order this season (following "Most Likely to Succeed" and "Traffic Light" at Fox).

"Chaos," written by Tom Spezialy ("Desperate Housewives"), centers on rogue CIA operatives who combat bureaucratic gridlock, rampant incompetence and political infighting. Spezialy exec produces with Ratner for 20th TV.

The untitled Redlich/John Bellucci drama, from Sony TV and CBS Studios, is  based on a short story by J. Robert Lennon and centers on a female NYPD detective who possesses the ability to remember everything -- a blessing in her job but a curse in her personal life.

Redlich and Bellucci wrote the script for the project (formerly "The Rememberer") and are exec producing with Sarah Timberman and Carl Beverly. The drama originally landed at CBS in September with a hefty commitment.

"Defenders," from CBS Studios, centers on two charismatic and fiery Las Vegas defense attorneys who go to the mat for their clients.

Niels Mueller and Kevin Kennedy wrote the script and are executive producing with Joe and Harry Gantz.