NEW YORK - COMING this fall to CBS: A romantic detective drama about vampires, a musical about a guy who longs to own a casino, a sexy-sounding soap starring Jimmy Smits, a comedy about brainiacs and a "reality" show that puts kids in charge.
By midseason, we'll also see a drama called "Swingtown." Set in a Chicago suburb in the wild and crazy days of 1976, it is not, let's just say, about big-band music.
And if you - or the Parents Television Council - don't like the sound of some of that, then just blame me, and people like me, for not writing enough about "NCIS" and CBS' other successful, acronym-ridden crime shows.
Not that most of those are going away.
"We had the stability, we had the strength and we were going to make a little noise," CBS entertainment president Nina Tassler told reporters yesterday as the network unveiled its schedule over breakfast, just hours before doing it all over again - with considerably more fanfare - for advertisers and media buyers at Carnegie Hall.
Stability's still the bottom line at CBS, which is making room for all that noise by ditching three of the four shows it introduced last fall, including "Jericho," as well as one of its many Jerry Bruckheimer series, "Close to Home."
So maybe it can afford a few vampires.
"Moonlight" - Tassler slipped only once and called it "Moonlighting" ("not a bad association") - stars Alex O'Loughlin as private investigator who happens to be undead and who's doing all he can to keep the rest of us from joining him. It's scheduled to follow "Ghost Whisperer" on Fridays. Can't wait for that crossover.
"Viva Laughlin" (8 p.m. Sundays) stars Lloyd Owen ("Monarch of the Glen") and is produced by Tony-winner Hugh Jackman, who'll have a recurring role. It's based on the BBC's genre-bending "Viva Blackpool," a drama in which characters would periodically break out in song, backed up by the originals. (In the extremely entertaining British version, for instance, the star would occasionally sing along with Elvis Presley. But not in that creepy way Celine Dion did on "American Idol.")
"Everybody looked at us cross-eyed and said, 'There's no way you're really going to put this on the schedule,' " Tassler said.
Even CBS Corp. president Leslie Moonves confesses he worried that people would think he was putting on "Cop Rock." (For those who don't remember the quickly canceled Steven Bochco show, its name has become Hollywood shorthand for "enormous failure involving characters who sing.")
"Swingtown," that '70s show for midseason that's not about swing music, may be an even bigger stretch for CBS' traditional audience, but clearly Tassler's looking to shake up the way the industry looks at that audience.
"It was written for cable, and when we approached the writers, their jaws dropped," she said, adding that it's being written to broadcast standards but will nevertheless almost certainly air at 10 p.m.
"Cane" (10 p.m. Tuesdays) stars Smits as the adopted son in a large Cuban-American family in the rum and sugar business in south Florida. Hector Elizondo plays his father, "Lost's" Nestor Carbonell his brother. (Hmmm.)
The one new comedy, "The Big Bang Theory" (8:30 p.m. Mondays) is from "Two and a Half Men" creator Chuck Lorre and stars Johnny Galecki ("Roseanne") and Jim Parsons as high-IQ best friends who don't deal well in social situations but whose new neighbor (Kaley Cuoco), a "screenwriter/waitress," may help change that.
Tassler describes "Kid Nation" (8 p.m. Wednesdays) as "40 kids, 40 days, one town, no parents."
Sounds like the CW's "One Tree Hill," but apparently we get to "watch them build a society."
In one of the few scheduling shifts involving returning shows, "Shark," now safely launched, will move to 10 p.m. Sundays, allowing "Without a Trace" to return to Thursdays and finish beating the tar out of "ER."
Coming back: "How I Met Your Mother," "Two and a Half Men," "Rules of Engagement," "CSI: Miami," "NCIS," "The Unit," "Criminal Minds," "CSI: NY," "Survivor," "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," "Without a Trace," "Ghost Whisperer," "Numbers," "48 Hours Mystery," "Cold Case," "Shark" and, at midseason, "The Amazing Race" and "The New Adventures of Old Christine."
Outta here: "Jericho," "Close to Home," "3 Lbs.," "The Class," "Armed & Famous," "Smith" and, of course, "The King of Queens" (whose finale this week drew 13.5 million viewers). *