At the Television Critics Association tour, CBS hints at an end to ''Race'' duo Rob and Amber, talks about a killer guest spot for James Van Der Beek, and ponders life after Bob Barker

By Jennifer Armstrong
January 21, 2007 at 12:00 PM EST
The Amazing Race: Robert Voets

The problem with being a network full of ratings-powerhouse crime procedurals and ghost-whispering? Bor-ing. So No. 1-net CBS wants to ”throw out the rulebook” with its show development for next season, Entertainment President Nina Tassler said.

To wit, some of the possibilities for fall: Swingtown, a serialized drama about swinger couples in the ’70s, and the Hugh Jackman-produced musical drama Viva Laughlin! (based on the BBC’s Viva Blackpool!). ”They’re shows that we believe are going to be talked about,” Tassler said. ”It’s our time.”

14 Minutes and Counting

Another step in the right direction: CBS Paramount Network Television Entertainment Group President Nancy Tellem boldly declared that reality circuit, um, frequenters (and upcoming all-star Amazing Race contestants) Rob and Amber will reach the end of their shelf life ”soon.” And with that long title, she must have some authority, right? Please?

Dawson’s Creep

As if the prospect of a Chicago Bears-New England Patriots Super Bowl rematch weren’t exciting enough (for at least one of us, anyway), the post-big game episode of Criminal Minds will feature none other than erstwhile Creek owner James Van Der Beek as its perpetrator of the week. He’ll play a dude who likes to videotape himself killing people and then post the clips on the Internet. And even better, exec producer Ed Bernero (a Bears fan himself) said, ”We actually see a little more of our unsub” — that’s CI-speak for suspect — ”than we usually do. Dawson is nothing compared to what this kid can do.” It’s enough to make a crime series-phobic teen show fan from Chicago want to watch a grisly serial-killer-tracking show.

Bye Bye Barker

Octogenarian Bob Barker will tape his last Price Is Right on June 6, but his replacement (who’ll likely start in September after a summer full of reruns) has yet to be named — and he’s yet to be asked for any recommendations for the job. That’s okay with Barker, though, since he’s got an iron-clad retirement plan: ”I’m going into body building,” he joked, ”and eventually am going to become governor of California.” So how did he keep going for 50 solid years in the entertainment biz? ”Booze,” he cracked. ”Not actually… well, actually.”