At CBS, The Turn Of the Skew

By Lisa de Moraes
Thursday, May 19, 2005

NEW YORK, May 18

CBS, which will just barely miss a clean win this season among the golden 18-to-49-year-old viewers that advertisers pay a premium to reach, has canceled four of the five oldest-skewing series on its prime-time lineup for fall.

So long, "60 Minutes" Wednesday edition.

Bye, bye, "Amy," "Joan" and "JAG."

(Oh, and "Listen Up" is gone, too, but that one was just bad. And low-rated.) They've been replaced by:

· Jennifer Love Hewitt as a woman who sees dead people -- and yet it's not a comedy.

· Carla Gugino -- you know, the one who got naked in "Sin City" -- as the head of a team investigating the arrival of aliens in the Atlantic Ocean. And yet, it's not a comedy.

· Jennifer Finnigan -- the one who played the crazy chick living in an apartment in New York with a dying clown -- as a hot suburban wife-mom-prosecutor who "tears away the facade of suburbia to reveal that sometimes quiet and tranquil streets can hide the darkest of crimes." And yet it's not "Desperate Housewives."

· Returning sitcoms "Still Standing" and "Yes, Dear."

"60 Minutes" Wednesday edition, the subject of much hair-tearing, chest-thumping, crow-eating and cable news blah-blah-blahing after the airing of its bungled Dan Rather segment on President Bush's National Guard service, has been scrubbed, CBS Chairman Leslie Moonves announced Wednesday.

Cue outrage from The Reporters Who Cover Media and stories drenched with irony about the newsmag that brought down Rather getting canceled in the final act of this sad CBS News tragedy.

Rather, who stepped down from the "CBS Evening News" right before an independent panel found the network did not authenticate the documents Rather's report was based on, will do work for "60 Minutes" Sunday edition and other CBS news projects, Moonves said during a morning news conference at Black Rock to unveil his new prime-time lineup. (The networks are presenting their fall prime-time plans to advertisers this week in New York in hopes they'll commit billions of dollars to their schedules in advance of their debuts.) Moonves insisted "60 Minutes" Wednesday edition was pulled because it was the oldest-skewing show on CBS's lineup, not because of the botched news report.

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