CBS schedules post-Super Bowl slot

New reality series 'Undercover Boss' will premiere after game

Guess which show CBS will air after Super Bowl XLIV on Feb. 7. Ratings phenomenon "The Big Bang Theory"? The all-star edition of "Survivor"? Procedural hit "The Mentalist"?

None of the above.

In a surprising move, CBS will premiere the new reality show "Undercover Boss" after the most-watched television event of the year.

"Boss" follows top executives as they anonymously assume entry-level jobs at their company and receive eye-opening perspectives on how their decisions affect lower-wage employees. Executives from White Castle, 7-Eleven, Hooters, Waste Management and Churchill Downs are on board for the first season.

It will be the first time since 2005 that a broadcast network has elected to air a new program after the Super Bowl. Fox aired the debut of "American Dad" after the game, but it was paired with veteran series "The Simpsons." One would have to go all the way back to 1995 to find a network airing the pilot of a series solo after the big game (ABC's "Extreme").

CBS also confirmed that the next edition of "Survivor" indeed will be a "Heroes vs. Villains" format, bringing together memorable players from past seasons into two moralistically opposed tribes. "Survivor" will premiere with a two-hour episode Thursday, Feb. 11.

The Eye also announced two specials that will fill the "Survivor" slot in the weeks leading up to the premiere: Jeff Probst and Mark Burnett's "Live for the Moment," a reality pilot where a terminally ill person takes an adventure of a lifetime that will air as a stand-alone special, will debut Jan. 28, and "Surviving Survivor" (working title), a one-hour 10th anniversary special, will air Feb. 4 and revisit key moments from seasons past.

CBS previewed the "Boss" pilot at the May upfronts to a strong response, and the series was expected to debut sometime in midseason. But analysts didn't peg the show as a post-Super Bowl contender.

Airing after "Boss" the network's postgame coverage, the premiere episode features Larry O'Donnell, president and COO of Waste Management, as he cleans porta-potties and works at a recycling plant. The series will run at 9 p.m. Sundays starting Feb. 14, along with 16th-cycle premiere of "The Amazing Race." Adding "Boss" means "Cold Case" will shift back to 10 p.m.

When factoring the decision, CBS was blessed with having contenders such as "Big Bang," "Survivor" and "Mentalist" that already have high viewer awareness and often win their time periods. By selecting "Boss," it gives a new show the best possible chance to break through.

" 'Boss' played great at Carnegie Hall, and every person watching the Super Bowl can enjoy this program; it's great family entertainment," said Nina Tassler, president of CBS Entertainment. "The journey of watching a chief executive walk a mile in their employees' shoes is always very revealing, often humorous and in some cases very inspiring."

In addition to "Boss," Tassler said the network has the luxury problem of having additional programming inventory on the shelves following a successful fall. Scripted dramas "Miami Medical" and "Flashpoint" and the return of comedy "Rules of Engagement" have not been scheduled but are expected to debut sometime before the end of the season.