Strike-torn TV networks ramp up returning shows
By Steve Gorman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A day after Hollywood writers voted to end a strike that crippled the television industry, broadcast networks on Wednesday began ramping up to bring sidelined comedy and drama favorites back to prime time.
CBS was first out of the block to announce its slate of returning shows, with plans to relaunch three Monday sitcoms -- "Two and a Half Men," "The Big Bang Theory" and "How I Met Your Mother" -- on March 17.
That restart date will allow nine new episodes of each show to air before the current TV season runs out in late May.
By early April, CBS also will have restored its biggest dramas, including its three popular "CSI" detective shows, "Criminal Minds," "Cold Case," "Ghost Whisperer" and "Without a Trace," the network said. Most of those will get six or seven weeks of original episodes before the season ends.
Hourlong dramas generally take longer to write and produce than half-hour comedies. The sitcoms alone will take a couple of weeks to be written and readied for shooting.
ABC's acclaimed courtroom show "Boston Legal" is expected back in front of cameras next week, the first returning drama ready to resume taping, due to producer David E. Kelley having a script half-finished when the strike started on November 5.
"We're fired up and ready to get back to work," Kelley, known as one of the speedier TV writers in town, told Reuters.
But networks fear it may be hard to lure back viewers who drifted away to other entertainment outlets, like cable TV and the Internet, as a glut of reruns and reality shows swept prime time in recent weeks. Broadcast ratings on the whole were down even before the strike started. Continued...