The long-awaited replacement for CBS' canceled Pat Sajak show will be not one, but five programs, all part of a mammoth restructuring of the network's late-night fare, it was announced Thursday.
Beginning in January, CBS will launch five new action series in the late-night time slot dominated by NBC's venerable talk show host, Johnny Carson.The programs, to run Monday through Friday, are:
- Judgment Night, about a judge who dispenses "an entirely different kind of justice" after hours.
- Paris Steele, about an American operative in Paris.
- Sweating Bullets, which concerns a former Drug Enforcement Agency officer turned cheap gumshoe.
- Slick, about a jet pilot and former jungle mercenary.
- Scene of the Crime, a mystery anthology produced by "Rockford Files" creator Stephen Cannell.
CBS also announced a new, late-night show by "All in the Family" producer Norman Lear.
- Jody Gordon and the News will take on NBC's David Letterman beginning in late October, said Rod Perth, the network's vice president of late-night programs.
The Lear program, which has been in development for at least four months, will revolve around a news producer who fantasizes while watching television.
"What we're planning is exciting, it's innovative," Lear told more than 1,000 representatives of CBS affiliate stations gathered at the Century Plaza hotel. "You've never seen it before."
Revamping the CBS late-night schedule is crucial to the bottom-rated network. "The Pat Sajak Show," which was yanked in March, failed miserably against heavy hitters such as Carson, Ted Koppel's "Nightline" on ABC and the "Arsenio Hall Show" in syndication.
"The stakes have taken on huge proportions," CBS entertainment president Jeff Sagansky told convention members. "The competition is fierce."
- The Midnight Hour is also on the network's ambitious late slate.
It is a "showcase introducing unusual and original talents" that features mostly former radio hosts such as Peter Tilden, who was fired last year from KLSX-FM in Los Angeles for talking too much, and Harry Shearer, whose show is distributed by KCRW in Los Angeles to 40 public radio stations.
"The Midnight Hour" will make its debut on July 23, and will run five nights each week through Sept. 14.
Meanwhile, reruns of "Wiseguy" and the new "Mission Impossible" will the late night time slot until January.