'Swingtown' experiment is on


Guess who's swinging into summer?

CBS' long-awaited drama "Swingtown" will be slated for a summer run, the network is expected to announce today.

With a few rare exceptions, like Fox's teen drama "The O.C.," scripted broadcast programming launched during the summer withers in the Nielsen ratings. A network's holding a midseason series until summer typically signals a lack of confidence.

But executive producer Carol Barbee said a postseason run creatively suits "Swingtown."

"A summer launch is perfect for 'Swingtown' since the pilot takes place on the Bicentennial Fourth of July," she said.

"Swingtown" follows the lives of couples experimenting with sexual and social mores in a 1970s Chicago suburb. The show was announced at CBS' upfront presentation in May as part of the network's plan to push its creative boundaries with such shows as "Moonlight," "Viva Laughlin" and "Kid Nation."

The serialized "Swingtown" originally was set to launch midseason so that it could air straight through. But aside from the pilot — which drew a favorable response from critics — CBS Paramount Network Television had only completed a couple of episodes when the writers strike shut down production in November.

The series recently resumed production on its 13-episode order, but its fate had remained uncertain, especially since CBS' own social experimentation phase hadn't gone so well.

"Laughlin" was canceled after two episodes, and "Nation" did not perform well enough to earn a renewal. Although "Moonlight" has done OK and has built a devoted cult fan base on Friday nights, the show was left out of CBS' recent series renewals.

Just as worrisome: Broadcasters recently have been on the defensive about airing sexual content. ABC was hit with a $1.2 million fine from the FCC for brief nudity in a 5-year-old episode of "NYPD Blue," and a family values watchdog has protested CBS for airing edited episodes of Showtime's "Dexter."

CBS declined comment on the plan.