CBS: What to Expect at the Upfront


THR analyzes which series are likely to return in the fall, the new pilots generating heat, and what the ad buyers are whispering.

As the upfronts loom ever closer (starting Monday in New York) and the broadcast networks salivate in anticipation of an improved ad market, THR is running a network-by-network breakdown--updating the news as it breaks. As always, nothing is set until the networks unveil their schedules and really, not even then.  

May 18
4 P.M.
Carnegie Hall

Heard any good Charlie Sheen jokes? Don’t be surprised if Nina Tassler doesn’t tell any as she introduces a Sheen-free Two and a Half Men. Otherwise, stability is again the CBS watchword. The net may skew older than its rivals, but it knows how to deliver to its viewers.

CBS has a collection of top performers, including NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles, The Mentalistand Criminal Minds, along with Chuck Lorre’s other laughers The Big Bang Theoryand Mike & Molly. Freshman drama Hawaii Five-O also has snagged viewers and a syndication deal worth $2 million-plus per episode. CBS is ranked No. 2 in the 18 to 49 demo (down 9 percent), but it will finish the season at No. 1 in total viewers.

Despite the Two and a Half Men drama, CBS remains stable and successful, if not particularly sexy. And buyers expect the network to have no trouble selling the retooled Men to advertisers. “No one is going in thinking it has a negative connotation now,” says one buyer. “I don’t think anybody’s pulling out of it.”

Rumblings of disappointing comedy development, a surfeit of strong dramas and Tassler’s desire for a medical series have leaked out the net’s famous “cone of silence.” Sources say that cop drama The 2-2 (formerly Rookies) is a favorite, with the recently recut Susannah Grant doctor drama looking strong. J.J. AbramsPerson of Interest, Minnie Driver’s Hail Mary and Sarah Michelle Gellar’s The Ringer are similarly in play. To make room, prepare to bid farewell to buddy law drama The Defenders. With $#*! My Dad Says, Mad Love and Rules of Engagement on the bubble, there are potential openings for Two Broke Girls, David Hornsby’s How to Be a Gentleman and Peter Knight’s very-much-alive Worked UpJulianna Margulies, from the sure-to-be-renewed The Good Wife, is among the talent expected to show.

Send upfront tips to Lacey.Rose@thr.comand