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Over Eggs and Bacon, CBS Serves Up Meat and Potatoes

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Leave it to CBS to maintain some sort of tradition in this strike-and-ratings-collapse-disrupted upfront. For years the network has had a ritual of revealing its schedule to reporters over a buffet breakfast at its Midtown headquarters. Even though the Eye is—in this year’s trendy spirit of austerity—canceling its Tavern on the Green after-party, it kept up its morning ritual, over a breakfast spread with so many pork products it could have been catered by Krusty the Clown. Mmmmmmmmbacon.

CBS will have something like a traditional upfront at Carnegie Hall this afternoon too, with a presentation to advertisers—albeit shorter than in past years—and actual trailers from actual pilots of several actual new shows. (CBS CEO Les Moonves and programming chief Nina Tassler took a moment to pooh-pooh the contention at some networks—cough! ABC! cough!—that there just wasn’t time for pilots this year, though they did note that they cut back and did some shorter “presentations” instead of full pilots.)

And the shows they’ll preview at Carnegie will also be traditional by CBS standards: a couple of sitcoms and three procedurals of one type or another. It’s a clear repudiation of last year’s detour into riskier serial programs (e.g., Viva Laughlin and the just-cancelled Moonlight), which can’t bode well for the serial, risky Swingtown—though a PR rep pulled me aside to aver that, contrary to Tuned In’s view, the show is not a summer burn-off victim. Noted.

After the jump, CBS’s release on its new schedule and shows. I’ll post some brief impressions of the clips at some point after today’s presentation.

The new comedies are:

WORST WEEK is a comedy about Sam Briggs, an entertainment magazine editor who will do anything to please his girlfriend’s parents … but instead becomes a one-man wrecking crew whenever he’s around them. Sam (Kyle Bornheimer, “Jericho”) and his girlfriend, Melanie Clayton (Erinn Hayes, “Kitchen Confidential”), have only one hurdle left to clear as they start their life together: breaking the news to Mel’s conservative parents that they have a wedding in the works and a baby on the way. Dick (Kurtwood Smith, “That ’70s Show”), a stern Judge, and his wife Angela (Nancy Lenehan, “My Name is Earl”), are protective of their daughter, and are really trying to let go of the anger they feel toward Sam … after all, disaster follows whenever he visits their house. But despite his best efforts, every time Sam takes one positive step forward in winning over his future in-laws, he inevitably takes two crushing steps back. But with support and love from Melanie who stands up for him despite his knack for making himself look bad, Sam will hopefully charm his way into her family. Emmy Award winner Adam Bernstein (“30 Rock”) directed the pilot. Matt Tarses (“Scrubs”) and Jimmy Mulville (“Whose Line Is It Anyway?”) are the executive producers for Universal Media Studios and CBS Paramount Network Television.

PROJECT GARY stars Jay Mohr (“Ghost Whisperer”) and Paula Marshall (“Nip/Tuck”) in a comedy about Gary Barnes, a recently single painting contractor, and his controlling ex-wife, Allison, who face post-divorce mayhem after 15 years of marriage as they each embark on new relationships. He’s the fun parent and she’s the strict one. Together, they share custody of their two children — Louise (Laura Marano, “Without a Trace”), a politically correct and environmentally conscious 11-year-old, and Tom (Ryan Malgarini, “How to Eat Fried Worms”), their socially awkward 14-year-old son who is nervous around girls. Charming and acerbic, Gary hasn’t dated since the split, but finally connects with Vanessa (Jaime King, “The Class”), a single mother whose condo he was hired to paint. He dreads telling Allison about Vanessa because it doesn’t adhere to her belief in their marriage counselor’s book, “Rules for the Perfect Divorce.” However, when Allison tells him that she’s engaged to their shrink, all bets are off and Gary decides it’s time to move forward. Now, in pursuit of post-marriage happiness, Gary must juggle his eclectic world of an ex-wife, their two kids, their shrink and his gorgeous new girlfriend. Ed Yeager (“Still Standing”) and Ric Swartzlander (“8 Simple Rules”) are the executive producers for ABC Studios and CBS Paramount Network Television.

The new dramas are:

THE MENTALIST stars Golden Globe Award nominee Simon Baker (“The Devil Wears Prada”) as Patrick Jane, a detective and independent consultant with the California Bureau of Investigation (CBI), who has a remarkable track record for solving serious crimes by using his razor sharp skills of observation. Within the Bureau, Jane is notorious for his blatant lack of protocol and his semi-celebrity past as a psychic medium, whose paranormal abilities he now admits he feigned. Jane’s role in cracking a series of tough high-profile cases is greatly valued by his fellow agents. However, no-nonsense Senior Agent Teresa Lisbon (Robin Tunney, “Prison Break”) openly resists having Jane in her unit and alternates between reluctantly acknowledging Jane’s usefulness and blasting him for his theatrics, narcissism and dangerous lack of boundaries. Lisbon’s team includes agents Kimball Cho (Tim Kang, “Rambo”), Wayne Rigsby (Owain Yeoman, “The Nine”), and rookie member Grace Van Pelt (Amanda Righetti, “The O.C.”), who all think Jane’s a loose cannon but admire his charm and knack for clearing cases. Bruno Heller (creator of “Rome”) is creator/executive producer, and Emmy Award winner David Nutter (“Band of Brothers”) is the executive producer for Warner Bros. Television.

ELEVENTH HOUR from acclaimed producer Jerry Bruckheimer follows Dr. Jacob Hood (Rufus Sewell, “The Illusionist”), a brilliant biophysicist and special science advisor to the government, as he investigates scientific crises and oddities. His jurisdiction is absolute and Hood is dogged in his pursuit of those who would abuse and misuse scientific discoveries and breakthroughs for their own gain. His passion and crusade is to protect the substance of science from those with nefarious motives. He is called in at the eleventh hour and he represents the last line of defense. Based on the British miniseries by acclaimed science-fiction writer Stephen Gallagher, the series is executive produced by Bruckheimer (“CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” “Pirates of the Caribbean”), Jonathan Littman (“CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” “Cold Case”), Danny Cannon (“CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” “CSI: Miami”), Cyrus Voris (“Bulletproof Monk”), Ethan Reiff (“Sleeper Cell”), Mick Davis (“Wake of Death”), and Paul Buccieri (“Fashion House”) for Jerry Bruckheimer Television in association with Warner Bros. Television.

THE EX LIST is a comedic drama about Bella Bloom (Elizabeth Reaser, “Grey’s Anatomy”) – a single, 30-something, successful business owner who is surprised to learn from a psychic that she’s already dated her future husband AND there’s a catch: if she doesn’t find him in the next year, she’ll remain alone forever. During a bachelorette party for her sister, Daphne (Rachel Boston, “American Dreams”), Bella learns from the psychic she must revisit her past relationships and sort through the mistakes to find her soul mate. Skeptical, Bella begins to analyze every past liaison and failed romance with her close circle of friends, Augie (Adam Rothenberg, “Mad Money”), an endearing guy who has listened to Bella’s love woes since college, Vivian (Alex Breckenridge, “Dirt”), Augie’s long-term girlfriend, and Cyrus (Amir Talai, “Campus Ladies”), who’s chronically unemployed and full of wry observations. Once Bella witnesses proof of the psychic’s other predictions, her cynicism disappears and she begins her search. Along her trip down break-up lane, Bella is determined to remain optimistic and receptive, believing that when destiny reopens doors to the past, every relationship can matter in the future. Diane Ruggiero (“Veronica Mars”) and Jonathan Levin (“Charmed”) are executive producers for Twentieth Century Fox Television.

Following is the 2008-2009 CBS Television Network primetime schedule:

CBS TELEVISON [sic] NETWORK
2008-2009 PRIMETIME SCHEDULE
(N=New, NT=New Time, all times ET/PT)

MONDAY
8:00-8:30 PM THE BIG BANG THEORY
8:30-9:00 PM HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER
9:00-9:30 PM TWO AND A HALF MEN
9:30-10:00 PM WORST WEEK (N)
10:00-11:00 PM CSI: MIAMI

TUESDAY
8:00-9:00 PM NCIS
9:00-10:00 PM THE MENTALIST (N)
10:00-11:00 PM WITHOUT A TRACE (NT)

WEDNESDAY
8:00-8:30 PM THE NEW ADVENTURES OF OLD CHRISTINE (NT)
8:30-9:00 PM PROJECT GARY (N)
9:00-10:00 PM CRIMINAL MINDS
10:00-11:00 PM CSI: NY

THURSDAY
8:00-9:00 PM SURVIVOR
9:00-10:00 PM CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION
10:00-11:00 PM ELEVENTH HOUR (N)

FRIDAY
8:00-9:00 PM GHOST WHISPERER
9:00-10:00 PM THE EX LIST (N)
10:00-11:00 PM NUMB3RS

SATURDAY
8:00-9:00 PM CRIMETIME SATURDAY
9:00-10:00 PM CRIMETIME SATURDAY
10:00-11:00 PM 48 HOURS MYSTERY

SUNDAY
7:00-8:00 PM 60 MINUTES
8:00-9:00 PM THE AMAZING RACE
9:00-10:00 PM COLD CASE
10:00-11:00 PM THE UNIT (NT)

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