CBS, trailing first-place NBC in prime-time ratings so far this season, said Monday that it will temporarily pull "Trapper John, M.D." and Flip Wilson's new "Charlie & Company" series from its roster in January, and will install a "CBS Sunday Movie" series.
The new two-hour movie block will premiere Jan. 12 with "Rockabye," starring Valerie Bertinelli.
To make room for its Sunday movies, CBS, in addition to yanking "Trapper John" off the schedule, will shift "Crazy Like a Fox" from Sundays at 9 p.m. to Wednesdays at 9 p.m., effective Jan. 15. There it will replace "Charlie & Company" and the previously canceled "George Burns Comedy Week."
Although CBS said "Trapper John," now in its seventh year, and "Charlie & Company" will return to its schedule later this season, their renewal for another season seems doubtful. Each has had low ratings.
NBC and third-place ABC announced their mid-season changes earlier this month. At least two more shifts are expected to be made early next year by NBC, which plans to add "The Last Precinct," a police series, and NBC News' "American Almanac" to its weekly roster.
CBS may make more changes in January, a spokesman said. Before Monday's announcement, the network already had axed three other new series, "Hometown," "Stir Crazy" and the anthology series hosted by Burns.
Earlier this month, the network sought to bolster its Wednesday night schedule with two new sitcoms, "Mary," which returned Mary Tyler Moore to the CBS lineup, and "Foley Square." But neither has yet registered the high ratings for which the network had hoped.
The addition of Sunday made-for-TV movies to CBS' schedule means all three networks will have movies at 9 p.m. on Sundays next year.
In other prime-time programming developments Monday, the producers of ABC's "Lime Street" said they are canceling that Robert Wagner series. They said that ABC--which put the low-rated new program on a production hiatus in October--couldn't find a new time period for it that was acceptable to them. ABC spokesmen were not immediately available for comment.
Over at ABC's "The Love Boat," a spokeswoman for producer Aaron Spelling said that Lauren Tewes, who played the ship's cruise director for seven seasons, will rejoin the cast next fall in her original role. She'll replace actress Pat Klous, who succeeded Tewes two seasons ago.
While ABC hasn't yet approved a full 10th season for "The Love Boat," it has ordered three two-hour episodes for next season, and Tewes will appear in those and any others that the network orders, the spokeswoman said.