[11/04/03 - 12:00 AM]
CBS Trims 'Becker,' 'Stones' and 'Reagans'
By Brian Ford Sullivan (TFC)

CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- CBS has put the future of its veteran comedy "Becker" in limbo once again as the network announced yesterday it will not order any additional episodes this season beyond the 13 originally ordered. The series however is not canceled and remains in contention for the network's fall 2004 schedule.

In addition, the Eye has also rolled back its commitment to its midseason comedy "The Stones," opting to halt production on the series after nine episodes, four short of its original 13 episode order. Both moves were in reaction to a lack of real estate on CBS' schedule. With all of its comedies performing well, CBS executives didn't see the need to overstock its midseason commitments as it had in previous years (i.e. second seasons of "Baby Bob" and "Ladies Man" as well as "Charlie Lawrence," all of which ended up being dumped into summer runs). With 22 episodes between "Becker" and "The Stones," CBS will more or less have a complete season for the Wednesday, 9:30/8:30c half-hour.

The news marks the latest chapter in a bizarre history for both "Becker" and "The Stones." The latter was originally scheduled to premiere this fall in the Wednesday, 9:30/8:30c slot while the former wasn't even renewed for its current season when CBS announced its fall lineup back in May. A month later, CBS executives decided to give "Becker" a 13-episode order for midseason and a month after that bumped "The Stones" to midseason in favor of a fall start for "Becker." "The Stones" will now bow some time in the spring, taking over for "Becker" in the Wednesday, 9:30/8:30c slot.

Meanwhile in other CBS news, the network has decided not to air its controversial mini-series "The Reagans." The project had been a recent source of debate as script reviews by various publications called into question the mini-series' authenticity when it came to the beloved Republication figure. In a statement to the press, CBS said:

CBS will not broadcast THE REAGANS on November 16 and 18. This decision is based solely on our reaction to seeing the final film, not the controversy that erupted around a draft of the script.

Although the mini-series features impressive production values and acting performances, and although the producers have sources to verify each scene in the script, we believe it does not present a balanced portrayal of the Reagans for CBS and its audience. Subsequent edits that we considered did not address those concerns.

A free broadcast network, available to all over the public airwaves, has different standards than media the public must pay to view. We do, however, recognize and respect the filmmakers' right to have their voice heard and their film seen. As such, we have reached an agreement to license the exhibition rights for the film to Showtime, a subscriber-based, pay-cable network. We believe this is a solution that benefits everyone involved.

This was not an easy decision to make. CBS does tackle controversial subjects and provide tough assessments of prominent historical figures and events, as we did with films such as 'Jesus,' '9-11' and 'Hitler.' We will continue to do so in the future."

It's not clear when the project will air on the pay channel.

  [november 2003]  

· 9/11 (CBS)

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