Ellen Gray: 'Good Wife' soon to compete against the NFL

Julianna Margulies stars in CBS' "The Good Wife."
Julianna Margulies stars in CBS' "The Good Wife."
Posted: May 19, 2011

NEW YORK - On CBS' "The Good Wife," Julianna Margulies plays a woman whose politician husband got caught in a cheating scandal.

But her problems with men may only be beginning, because next fall, she's going up against the NFL. Not to mention those suburban hussies on ABC's "Desperate Housewives."

Of course, that's not exactly the way CBS yesterday described the move to Sundays, one of several mild surprises on the 2011-12 prime-time schedule it presented to advertisers at Carnegie Hall, that included five new shows for fall and changes on every night of the week.

Moving "The Good Wife" to 9 p.m. Sundays is putting "our most prestigious show on our most prestigious night," CBS scheduling chief Kelly Kahl told reporters at a briefing yesterday, noting that the Peabody-winning show is now on the same night with those awards machines "60 Minutes" and the "The Amazing Race." "This is where we put our quality shows."

Not sure how the shows that landed on other nights are going to feel about that, but for fans of "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" and its spin-offs, the good news is that all three survived, though the original will be leaving its 9 p.m. Thursday slot to make room for a new crime drama, "Person of Interest," from J.J. Abrams ("Lost," "Fringe").

Look for it on Wednesdays at 10, where it will be replacing the canceled spin-off of "Criminal Minds," "Suspect Behavior."

Also officially canceled: "The Defenders," "$#*! My Dad Says" and "Mad Love."

Coming back: "How I Met Your Mother," "Two and Half Men," "Mike & Molly," "Hawaii Five-0," "NCIS," "NCIS: Los Angeles," "Survivor," "Criminal Minds," "The Big Bang Theory," "The Mentalist," "Blue Bloods" and "Rules of Engagement."

The network's also moving "Rules" - possibly the most annoyingly imitated show of the current season - to Saturdays in the fall, apparently on the theory that it can't be killed.

"Wherever you put 'Rules' on the schedule, people go," CBS entertainment president Nina Tassler told reporters.

"Are the expectations sky-high? No. It's Saturday night," said Kahl, who for several years has reserved that night for reruns. The way Tassler sees it, she could've used another night, one explanation for why you won't see "Undercover Boss" until midseason.

Asked if there'd been a Plan B for "Two and Half Men" if CBS hadn't been able to snag Ashton Kutcher, Kahl said, "We kind of worked under the assumption that we would" get him.

"And "out of respect for Chuck [Lorre, the creator] and the show," Tassler wasn't talking specifics for how the show will deal with the departure of Charlie Sheen's character. (Couldn't he just go for a swim and never come back?)

Kutcher made his first public appearance with his "Two and Half Men" co-stars onstage at Carnegie Hall yesterday, where he said that from the outpouring of congratulations he'd received in recent days, "you'd have thought I won the lotto or something. [Pause]. Which I kind of did."

Premiering between "How I Met Your Mother" and "Two and a Half Men" next season will be a new comedy, "2 Broke Girls," from "Sex and the City" writer Michael Patrick King about two waitresses in a Brooklyn diner who are trying to raise money to start their own business.

Another new sitcom, "How To Be a Gentleman," inspired by the book of the same name, stars David Hornsby as an etiquette columnist and Kevin Dillon as an unrefined guy from his past whom the columnist hires to teach him how to be a "real man."

"Person of Interest," which stars Jim Caviezel, Michael Emerson and Taraji P. Henson, is about a "presumed-dead former CIA agent who teams up with a mysterious billionaire to prevent violent crimes by using their own brand of vigilante justice."

(You can find the full text of CBS' and other networks' announcements this week, including fuller series descriptions and the night-by-night schedules, on my blog, Ellen Gray on TV, at go.philly.com/ellengray.)

Other new CBS dramas include "A Gifted Man," which will kick off Fridays at 8, and stars Patrick Wilson as a surgeon whose comfortable world is rocked when his dead ex-wife starts appearing to him, making him want to be a better person (no, it might not work that way for everybody) and "Unforgettable," which moves into "The Good Wife's" 10 p.m. Tuesday slot and stars Poppy Montgomery ("Without a Trace") as a former police detective with a near-flawless memory.

Seems the only thing she can't remember are "the details that would help solve her sister's long-ago murder."

A 'Closer' spin-off

It's official: When Kyra Sedgwick departs TNT's "The Closer" in the summer of 2012 - taking the series with her - Mary McDonnell, whose Capt. Raydor's been a thorn in the side of Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson for a while now, will get her own series, a "Closer" spin-off called "Major Crimes."

Turner also announced yesterday that Conan O'Brien will take his TBS show "Conan" to New York for a week this fall to mark his new show's first anniversary, the first time he's hosted there since leaving NBC's "Late Night."

Send email to graye@phillynews.com.

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