CBS has scrapped “Judging Amy,” “Joan of Arcadia” and the Wednesday edition of “60 Minutes” in drawing up a fall schedule with six new series. Those entries, which were unveiled Wednesday, bring back Henry Winkler, Stockard Channing, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Mandy Patinkin, Thomas Gibson, Brent Spiner and Neil Patrick Harris.

Yes, the CBS fall looks like a TV Land reunion.

Les Moonves, the network’s chairman, attributed the axing of the second “60 Minutes” solely to ratings and not to a widely disputed report last fall on President Bush’s service in the National Guard.

The public furor caused Dan Rather, who reported the Bush story, to step down in March as anchor of the “CBS Evening News.”

With the Wednesday edition of “60 Minutes” leaving the air, Rather will switch to the original Sunday broadcast, CBS News says.

The network added two sitcoms on Mondays to fill holes left by the canceled “Listen Up” with Jason Alexander and “Everybody Loves Raymond,” which ended its nine-year run Monday.

The series finale, in which Ray Barone suffered a health scare, attracted nearly 33 million viewers, a record for the show.

“How I Met Your Mother,” a romantic comedy told through flashbacks, gives prominent supporting roles to “Doogie Howser” star Harris and Alyson Hannigan of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

“Out of Practice” focuses on a family of physicians. Cast as the divorced parents are “Happy Days” superstar Winkler and “West Wing” alumna Channing.

The sitcom comes from Christopher Lloyd and Joe Keenan, longtime writers for “Frasier,” and Kelsey Grammer directed the pilot. The comedy receives an excellent time slot, behind “Two and a Half Men,” which inherits the Raymond berth at 9 p.m. Mondays.

CBS will add four dramas in the fall:

-“Close to Home” inherits the “Judging Amy” slot at 10 p.m. Tuesdays. Jennifer Finnigan plays a top-flight prosecutor who returns to work after having her first child. It’s another drama from CSI executive producer Jerry Bruckheimer.

-“Criminal Minds,” at 9 p.m. Wednesdays, follows FBI profilers who, according to CBS, “analyze the country’s most twisted criminal minds.” CBS is heavy on crime themes, but the strong cast includes Patinkin of “Chicago Hope,” Gibson of “Dharma & Greg” and Shemar Moore of “The Young and the Restless.”

-“Ghost Whisperer” takes over the “Joan of Arcadia” slot at 8 p.m. Fridays. “Party of Five” star Hewitt plays a newlywed who talks to the dead and passes along their messages. “As a result, she is often met with questions and skepticism by the survivors,” CBS says. No kidding.

-“Threshold” fills the slot left by “JAG” at 9 p.m. Fridays and concerns experts investigating an extraterrestrial craft found in the Atlantic Ocean. The cast includes Carla Gugino, Charles S. Dutton and Spiner of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”

CBS announced that it has two series in the wings for midseason – and more stars from television’s past.

-“Everything I Know About Men” presents Jenna Elfman of “Dharma & Greg” as a secretary encountering great difficulty in finding true love. The comedy features Dabney Coleman as Elfman’s father.

-“The Unit” is a drama about special forces operatives working on missions around the globe. Heading the cast are Dennis Haysbert of “24,” Scott Foley of “Felicity,” Robert Patrick of “The X-Files” and Regina Taylor of “I’ll Fly Away” – that’s a TV Land reunion all by itself. “The Unit” could be the most interesting series on the CBS list because playwright David Mamet and Shawn Ryan, creator of “The Shield,” are collaborating on it.

CBS might not have the buzz of ABC, with “Desperate Housewives” and “Lost.” But CBS remains the most-watched network, averaging 12.9 million viewers this season and staying far ahead of No. 2 ABC with nearly 10.1 million.



Hal Boedeker: hboedekerorlandosentinel.com



(c) 2005, The Orlando Sentinel (Fla.).

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AP-NY-05-18-05 1643EDT


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