MyNetworkTV has unveiled its fall lineup, including new additions AMC’s The Walking Dead and CBS’ The Mentalist. The network announced in March it had acquired off-network rights to the blockbuster zombie drama. The Walking Dead will air on Wednesday nights and The Mentalist on Thursday nights. In addition, Law & Order: SVU returns with back-to-back episodes on Monday nights, Law & Order: CI is back on Tuesday nights, while the two-hour block of Fox series Bones shifts to Friday nights. Check out the complete 2014-15 schedule here:
EXCLUSIVE: Recent The Mentalist cast addition Joe Adler has been promoted to a series regular for the upcoming seventh season of the veteran crime drama. Adler plays Jason Wylie, the lighthearted and brilliant FBI computer expert with a deep interest in Jane’s (Simon Baker) mind games. Adler’s promotion is not a surprise as has appeared on a recurring basis in every episode of the show since its reboot halfway through Season 5 when the Red John storyline was wrapped up and the show’s setting was moved from California to Texas. When it renewed Mentalist last month, CBS did not specify the size of the order but I’d heard that it is for a 13-episode seventh and likely final season, something the network also would not confirm. The Mentalist is not on CBS’ fall schedule and is slated to return in midseason if not sooner. Adler, repped by Paradigm and Authentic, did an arc on Shameless and will next be seen in The Maze Runner.
Related: CBS 2014 Schedule
There will be a happy ending for The Mentalist. After sitting heavily on the bubble for the first time, in grave danger of cancellation, the veteran drama has gotten a reprieve with an eleventh-hour renewal. CBS does not specify the size of the order but I hear it is likely for a 13-episode seventh and final season. That also would make sense given the enormous (for CBS standards) volume of new dramas that the network is adding with the pickup of six new series: NCIS: New Orleans, CSI: Cyber (likely one for fall one for midseason), Stalker, Scorpion, Madam Secretary and the straight-to-series Battle Creek.
The Mentalist creator Bruno Heller is segueing to his new Fox series Gotham, but I hear he will see his baby off, sharing co-showrunner duties with one of his lieutenants, Tom Szentgyorgyi. Simon Baker is set to return as he has one more year on his current contract. With the renewal of The Mentalist, CBS will be bringing back all 10 drama series that were on its fall schedule last season, plus 6 new ones vs 3 last season. Expect multiple split windows/limited runs and possibly dramas reclaiming a comedy hour.
With The Mentalist‘s future at CBS in serious doubt, I hear the studio behind the veteran drama, Warner Bros TV, has been quietly shopping the series to other networks, garnering some preliminary interest from broadcast and cable. Taking in a 6-year-old high-end drama is not an easy proposition, but WBTV is ready to explore every possible avenue — that’s how important a property The Mentalist is to the studio with its $2 million-plus-per-episode off-network deal at TNT and big international sales including France, where it is the No. 1 scripted series.
In a situation like that, having a sibling network comes in handy. CBS stepped in when NBC cancelled CBS Studios-produced drama Medium after five seasons, keeping the series and its lucrative off-network deal alive for two more years. When NBC was exploring ending Law & Order: Criminal Intent after six seasons, the series, produced by NBCUniversal, instead moved to sibling USA, which already was carrying CI reruns. The Law & Order spinoff ended up going for four more seasons. The Mentalist wouldn’t be a fit for the only WBTV-affiliated broadcast network, the young skewing CW, making cable sibling TNT the best possible option. Like with L&O: CI and USA, TNT already is the off-network home of The Mentalist and has a slate of crime procedurals. However, the net has been pulling away from the genre lately, putting an emphasis on action-adventure fare in the vein of Falling Skies with such shows as the upcoming The Last Ship and Legends, and I hear it might not be interested in picking up The Mentalist originals (though parent Time Warner could conceivably intervene if the larger company’s financial interest is at stake). Among the major broadcast networks, ABC is said to be open to considering a pickup though it is expected to evaluate its own development first. The network has had success with a similar comedic procedural, Castle, and it also has struggled launching dramas at 10 PM for the past couple of seasons.
When The Mentalist premiered in 2008, it drew comparisons to USA‘s Psych, also a light crime procedural about a fake psychic helping the police. Psych just ended its eight-season run, so there is a vacancy there. But, like TNT, USA too has been moving away from character-based procedurals as it has been showing affinity for edgier dramas, and I hear it likely would not be pursuing The Mentalist.
CBS Renews 9 Drama Series, 5 Comedies, 2 Reality Shows For Next Season; No ‘Mentalist’, ‘Crazy Ones’ Or ‘Intelligence’
“With the addition of the NFL on Thursday night our schedule is pretty darn tight,” CBS’ CEO Les Moonves told investors this week, indicating the network planned to only add two new drama and two new comedy series for next season. Here is the proof of just how tight the network’s 2014-15 schedule is shaping up to be. As it does every year, in one fell swoop the network has renewed the bulk of its lineup. That includes nine drama series — flagship NCIS, NCIS: LA, Criminal Minds, Person Of Interest, Elementary, CSI, Hawaii Five-0, Blue Bloods and critical darling The Good Wife — and five comedies: 2 Broke Girls, freshman The Millers and the three Chuck Lorre series, veteran Two And A Half Men, Mike & Molly and freshman Mom. They join Lorre’s The Big Bang Theory, which was just given a big three-season pickup. On the reality side, The Amazing Race and Undercover Boss are being renewed, joining Survivor, which is set for a milestone 30th cycle next season, as well as newsmagazines 60 Minutes and 48 Hours. All in all, 20 programs.
Not picked up is The Mentalist, the veteran procedural’s first time not being among the early renewals. The long-running drama has been on the bubble and, unlike Hawaii Five-0, Blue Bloods or The Good Wife, whose ratings have been on par or lower, Mentalist is not owned by CBS, making off-network money for the company the way the other three shows do. But The Mentalist is a very important property for Warner Bros TV with a very lucrative syndication deal and strong international sales, so expect the studio to fight hard for a seventh-season renewal, especially after the post-Red John creative reboot of the show was deemed successful. (The Mentalist creator/showrunner Bruno Heller’s expected departure to run his new series, Gotham at Fox, is not expected to be a major factor in the decision-making.)
EXCLUSIVE: The CW has put in development Red, a Western/sci-fi drama from The Mentalist creator/executive producer Bruno Heller and the series’ executive producer Tom Szentgyorgyi. Written by Szentgyorgyi, Red is described as a neo-Western drama about the first human settlement on Mars and life on this new frontier, centering on the relationships between the town’s female sheriff, a doctor and a criminal. WME-repped Szentgyorgyi and Heller executive produce for Warner Bros. TV where Heller is under an overall deal.
Jaime Ray Newman Joins ABC’s ‘Mind Games’ As Regular, Rockmond Dunbar Cast In ‘The Mentalist’ As Potential New Regular
EXCLUSIVE: Jaime Ray Newman (Drop Dead Diva) has landed a new regular role on ABC’s midseason drama series Mind Games, about two brothers — Ross (Christian Slater), a con man, and Clark (Steve Zahn), suffering from bipolar disorder — as they run a problem solving firm that uses psychological manipulation. Newman will play Anna Gordon, a seasoned con woman who is trying to turn over a new leaf and is hoping that her somewhat skill set will be perfect for Ross and Clark’s company.
Rockmond Dunbar (The Game) is set for a recurring three-episode arc on CBS’ veteran drama The Mentalist, with potential to become a series regular. He will appear in episodes 7, 8 and 9, playing FBI Supervisory Agent Dennis Abbott who is a tough, no-nonsense cop who doesn’t suffer fools and isn’t overly impressed by Patrick Jane’s skills or charm. The Mentalist is looking for new regulars as part of a cast changeover that includes the planned exit of original cast members Amanda Righetti and Owain Yeoman in a plot twist. The series also is casting a new female regular.
Undercover Boss will end its fourth season with two episodes featuring the top bosses and the top employees from all previous seasons. Survivor: Caramoan‘s reunion show will air from Los Angeles, not from New York where Survivor‘s May reunion specials normally originate from. In the season finale of Criminal Minds, “the BAU’s pursuit of “The Replicator,” the UnSub that has been stalking the team all season, comes to a head when one of their own becomes a victim.” With Criminal Minds yet to be renewed because of contract renegotiations for most of the cast, I guess one of the actors won’t be needing a new deal. In its finale, The Mentalist will once again come this close to catching Red John, but with the veteran drama safely renewed, we all know they will drag this out for at least one more season. And for die-hard Black Sabbath fans, the rockers will debut a new song on the season finale of CSI.
EXCLUSIVE: The Mentalist creator/executive producer Bruno Heller and the series’ executive producers Ashley Gable and Tom Szentgyorgyi have set up a new crime drama at CBS. Titled Murder Bitches, it centers on two young female detectives who are complete opposites, their relationship made more complicated by the fact that one of them suffered a stroke two years ago at age 27. They’re known on the force, in admiration and envy, as the Murder Bitches. Gable and Szentgyorgyi will write the script and executive produce with Heller. Mentalist producer Warner Bros TV, where Heller is under an overall deal, is producing.
Starting this fall, the NFL‘s 4:15 PM Sunday games will start at 4:25 PM, the league announced today. The move is designed to reduce the number of instances when stations have to cut away from the final minutes of the earlier game in order to show the later one. Fox and CBS alternate carrying the Sunday afternoon games. While Fox has a cushion built into its primetime schedule, which includes a post-game show and comedy repeats from 7-8 PM, CBS’ lineup starts at 7 PM with 60 Minutes. The start of its primetime always gets delayed when the network carries the late NFL game – nine weeks out of the 17-week regular NFL season — leading to late starts for all of its Sunday programs. I hear NFL floated the idea of the kickoff time shift to CBS a few weeks ago.
The network has been already looking into contingencies to adjust to the change that will push the start of its Sunday primetime lineup even further back. Last season, CBS’ primetime delay on nights with a late game was about 27 minutes on average. It will likely increase this coming season. One possible scenario that the network is looking at is changing its listings for Sunday night when following a game to have 60 Minutes start at 7:15 PM. That would reduce the wait …
Every year, CBS goes for a couple of major scheduling moves in anchor slots. This year, it is 2 Broke Girls moving to the tentpole Monday 9 PM position after breaking out at 8:30 PM this season. After seven seasons in the Monday 9 PM slot, Two And A Half Men is moving to the Thursday 8:30 slot behind The Big Bang Theory. That is a role-reversal for the two comedies as Big Bang grew into a hit behind Men on Monday. The 2 Broke Girls move reflects CBS’ strategy to support “shows that have momentum, trying to catch them on the way up,” CBS’ scheduling guru Kelly Kahl said at the network’s press breakfast. As for sending Men to Thursday, “we’ve created a super comedy hour,” Kahl said. Men was brought over because the network had difficulty finding a show as broad as Big Bang for the 8:30 PM slot to create flow on the night and help 9 PM drama Person Of Interest grow.
Kahl took a snipe at ABC, NBC and Fox, which all scheduled single-camera comedies in the Tuesday 9 PM hour, calling the pileup “a comedy Sigalert”. “It’s good to have a drama there,” he said of CBS, which is sticking with NCIS: LA in the slot. CBS’ entertainment president Nina Tassler said it was a toss-up decision which CSI spinoff to cancel, which ultimately came down to whose slot the network found more suitable for The Mentalist as it didn’t want to have any of the veteran CSIs change nights again. “It was about keeping the flow, and Miami was the odd man out,” she said. As for veteran comedy Rules Of Engagement, “we’re still discussing it, no decision has been made,” Tassler said.
CBS is introducing four new shows in the fall: comedy Partners and dramas Vegas, Elementary and Made In Jersey. The strategy was “protecting our new shows, with all of them having hits in front of them,” Kahl said. Partners follows How I Met Your Mother on Monday, Vegas is behind NCIS: LA on Tuesday, Elementary behind Person of Interest on Thursday and Made In Jersey behind CSI: NY on Friday.
Here’s the CBS 2012-2013 schedule:
(N=New, NT=New Time)
8 PM HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER
8:30 PM PARTNERS (N)
9 PM 2 BROKE GIRLS (NT)
9:30 PM MIKE & MOLLY
10 PM HAWAII FIVE-0
8 PM NCIS
9 PM NCIS: LOS ANGELES
10 PM VEGAS (N)
The renewal of CBS‘ long-running sitcom Rules Of Engagement is going down to the wire. Less that 24 hours before CBS’ upfront presentation tomorrow, the network and Rules producer Sony Pictures TV continue to be deep in negotiations on a pickup. The two sides are still going back-and-forth on a number of issues, including the size of a potential seventh-season order, but there appears to be a will on both parts to make it happen. The show needs 13 episodes to get to the 100-episode mark. CBS only ordered two new comedy series for next season, so, as this season proved, having a reliable performer like Rules on the bench could come in handy.
Glimpse At CBS’ Fall Schedule? Network Tries Out ‘Mentalist’ On Friday & 8-10 PM Thursday Comedy Block
Every year at this time, CBS‘ scheduling guru Kelly Kahl experiments with moves that, if successful, lead to permanent changes on the network’s fall schedule the following season. When years ago The Big Bang Theory, then a Monday 8:30 PM show, did great when tested behind Two And A Half Men, it was moved there the following year, starting the comedy’s rapid ascent to blockbuster hit status. In January 2010, CBS tried comedy repeats, including Big Bang, in the Thursday 8-9 PM hour — then still occupied by Survivor. While they didn’t pop, the network pushed through with a move of Big Bang to Thursday 8 PM anyway, and it was successful. Most recently last season, CBS tried out Friday’s breakout Blue Bloods in the Wednesday 10 PM slot and the Thursday 10 PM player The Mentalist in the 9 PM Thursday slot. Neither did particularly well in their new berths, and CBS ultimately kept them in their old slots for this season’s schedule.
Now CBS is at it again during the slow time when many shows are in repeats. A new episode of The Mentalist airs tonight at 9 PM. As an older-skewing series (mature women love Simon Baker!), the procedural should be able to fit into CBS’ Friday lineup, paired with Blue Bloods. The experiment doesn’t bode well for the current occupant of the Friday 9 PM slot, CSI: NY, which already had its order cut this season and has been benched for a period of time. Will it be the first of the CSI series to go off the air?
The other CBS scheduling tryout is one that I have been advocating since 2 Broke Girls launched big in the fall and went on to top Two And A Half Men in the demo a couple of times — a two-hour comedy block on Thursday, something the network will pilot April 12. With NBC’s comedy lineup a shadow of its former self from the glory Must See TV days, CBS can expand its comedy invasion on the night, and it has the weapons to do it.