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CBS contemplating holding 'The Amazing Race 5' until September 2004 to cut costs


By Wade Paulsen, 05/21/2004 

Looks like CBS may be coming around to our opinion after all. Took them long enough.

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As part of CBS's "upfront" presentation to advertisers this week, CBS chairman and CEO Les Moonves announced that the Emmy-winning The Amazing Race series would return to CBS's regular fall lineup, on Saturday nights at 9 PM ET/PT. However, Moonves also said that the Eye Network might decide to hold The Amazing Race 6 for spring, not fall ... and air The Amazing Race 5 in the fall time slot, thus shelving the already-announced plan to begin airing The Amazing Race 5 on July 6.

Since The Amazing Race 4, the first series of the show to air during the summer, received mediocre ratings that left the series on the brink of cancellation, we admit to being a little surprised that The Amazing Race 5 will return to the regular season, where it had dismal ratings, without any build-up over the summer. However, according to Moonves, the shift isn't motivated by the show's quality or its likelihood of ratings success --- instead, it's purely a cost-savings measure.

Basically, CBS -- the only network which failed to introduce even ONE new reality program in its fall schedule (in fact, there were only five new shows, period) -- has concluded that it was being "dumb" (Moonves' word) to continue to air original scripted shows on Saturday nights. Why? Because scripted dramas (like Hack or The District) are significantly more expensive to make than unscripted shows -- and, anyway, CBS was placing fourth with the scripted shows.

We wonder if Moonves hopes that The Amazing Race, with its combination of colorful locales and competing/feuding couples, will become this decade's successor to the definitive Saturday night hits of the 1970s: ABC's The Love Boat (couples) and Fantasy Island (exotic locales).

We also note that, with the return of The Amazing Race to the prime-time schedule, Race executive producer Jerry Bruckheimer will have six shows in prime-time for CBS next season: three versions of CSI, Without a Trace, Cold Case and two series of Race -- five dramas and a reality show. We happen to know of another reality-TV producer who will have six shows in prime-time on the networks next season: Mark Burnett, who will have two series of Survivor on CBS, two series of The Apprentice and one series of The Contender on NBC, and three shows -- a new reality show, the scripted comedy Commando Nanny and the scripted drama Global Frequency -- on The WB: four reality shows, one comedy and one drama (and that doesn't count the upcoming The Casino which will air this summer on Fox).

It's also worth noting that as part of CBS's desire to cut costs on Saturday night, it has designated the 10 PM ET/PT slot as "Crime Time Saturday", which will feature repeats of Bruckheimer's CSI, Cold Case, and Without a Trace series. We hope that the two new series of The Amazing Race will at least do well enough in the ratings to outdraw the reruns that follow it....











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