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CBS Cancels Movies, Orders Up Dramas

CBS is canceling its Sunday movie in favor of two successful crime procedurals and will add a new Thursday series next fall with James Woods portraying a defense attorney who becomes a prosecutor.

As the most stable and successful broadcast network, CBS is adding only four new programs to next season's schedule.

"We're taking some swings, but we're taking swings in an environment of strength," CBS Corp. President Leslie Moonves said May 17.

The end of CBS' Sunday movie means that none of the major broadcast networks will have a regularly scheduled movie night. CBS has aired a movie on Sunday since the 1986-87 TV season.

Many of CBS' Sunday movies were aimed at older women, an audience largely taken away by ABC's "Desperate Housewives," and most new approaches didn't work, Moonves said. A handful of Hallmark-sponsored movies will air next season as specials.

After "60 Minutes," CBS' reconfigured Sunday lineup has "The Amazing Race," "Cold Case" and "Without a Trace" — a top 10 hit that's moving from 10 p.m. Thursdays. Sundays will be transformed this fall when NBC begins airing football games and ABC moves "Grey's Anatomy" to Thursdays.

"It is going to be a night where we are up considerably," Moonves said.

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He also touted "60 Minutes," which will include contributions from Katie Couric and Anderson Cooper starting next fall, and more stories from Lara Logan.

"It's not your mother's '60 Minutes,' " he said. "We've reduced the average age from 85 to 82. It's a much younger, much hipper show. It's a much more relevant '60 Minutes' than it's ever been."

Couric later joined Moonves onstage at Carnegie Hall during the CBS presentation to advertisers, promising that she's working to create a "relevant, accessible" evening newscast when she takes over for Bob Schieffer in the fall.

"How do you get to Carnegie Hall?" she said. "Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate."

The "Shark" pilot with Woods and co-star Jeri Ryan, directed by Spike Lee, will get the coveted 10 p.m. Thursday time slot following "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation." Even though "Survivor" ratings are fading, Moonves said CBS gave no consideration to moving the show off Thursdays.

Besides the movie, CBS is canceling the comedies "Out of Practice" and "Courting Alex." The long-running comedy "King of Queens" is not on the fall schedule, but will return in midseason for its last year. Six of the series CBS introduced in the past season will return in the fall — double the retention rate of ABC and NBC combined, Moonves said.

CBS's only new comedy, "The Class," is from "Friends" writer David Crane and will feature a group of former third-grade classmates reunited in their 20s. It will be one of the four comedies CBS airs on Monday, the only night it has comedy on the schedule.
The other two new CBS dramas are "Smith," starring Ray Liotta as a career criminal and produced by John Wells of "ER" and "The West Wing," and "Jericho," about a Kansas town whose residents wonder if they're the only survivors when they see a mushroom cloud on the horizon.

Although CBS will end the current TV season as the nation's top-rated network, Moonves acknowledged a little envy at sensations on other networks like "Grey's Anatomy" and "Lost."

"There was an attitude of 'We don't get as much noise as anybody else,' " he said. "We're human. We like the buzz. Although we like to win more."