Tuned In: CBS schedule -- 'Three Rivers' runs through it

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Five years after CBS canceled its last Pittsburgh-set series, "The Guardian," the network returns to the 'Burgh for the aptly titled "Three Rivers," a medical drama that will air at 9 p.m. Sundays beginning this fall.

"Three Rivers" is set in the world of transplant surgery among organ donors, recipients and surgeons at a Pittsburgh hospital.

The series stars Alex O'Loughlin ("Moonlight") as Dr. Andy Yablonski, described as "the highly skilled workaholic lead organ transplant surgeon, whose good-natured personality and sarcastic wit makes him popular with his patients and colleagues."

Other characters include:

• Dr. Miranda Foster (Katherine Moennig, "The L Word"), a rebel surgeon with a temper who lives in the shadow of her surgeon father's reputation.

• Dr. David Lee (Daniel Henney, "X-Men Origins: Wolverine"), a womanizing surgical resident.

• Ryan Abbott (Christopher J. Hanke), an inexperienced transplant coordinator who schedules the organ transplants.

• Dr. Sophia Jordan (Julia Ormond, "Sabrina"), the head of surgery.

• Pam Acosta (Justina Machado, "Six Feet Under"), Andy's no-nonsense operating assistant and best friend.

The "Three Rivers" pilot filmed in Pittsburgh in late March and early April using the closed Brownsville Tri-County Hospital as its primary location. Other locations included, but were not limited to, Allegheny County Airport, the David L. Lawrence Convention Center and Duquesne University's A.J. Palumbo Center, where members of the Point Park men's basketball team filmed a scene involving a player who faces a medical emergency during a practice session.

A CBS publicist did not know where subsequent episodes of the series will film, but the Pittsburgh Film Office has gotten no confirmation that "Three Rivers" is returning to Pittsburgh to film additional episodes. A likely scenario is that the series will shoot primarily on the West Coast, like "The Guardian," returning to Pittsburgh on occasion for pick-up shots. Although Pennsylvania tax incentives make filming locally attractive to filmmakers, actors often have contracts that limit series filming locations to film industry centers (e.g. Los Angeles, Vancouver, New York).

"Three Rivers" is executive produced by director Curtis Hanson, who shot the film "Wonder Boys" in Pittsburgh, and the showrunner is Carol Barbee, a veteran of CBS dramas "Jericho" and "Swingtown." Barbee wrote the "Three Rivers" pilot.

"Three Rivers" will face stiff competition for attention opposite ABC's female-skewing "Desperate Housewives," NBC's male-skewing "Sunday Night Football" and Fox's youth-skewing animation block.

In its most aggressive programming move, CBS will shift freshman hit "The Mentalist" to 10 p.m. Thursday, where it is likely to win the time slot over ABC's "Private Practice" and NBC's "The Jay Leno Show."

CBS also picked up "Medium," which NBC canceled this week, and paired it with similarly themed "Ghost Whisperer" on Fridays.

CBS canceled "The Unit," "Worst Week," "Eleventh Hour" and "Without a Trace." Ratings for "Trace" have not been terrible, but the show is expensive to produce and it's owned by Warner Bros., not CBS.

"Rules of Engagement" will return at midseason. Canadian co-production "Flashpoint" will also return.

Here's CBS's fall schedule, with new series in bold:


7 p.m.: "60 Minutes."

8 p.m.: "The Amazing Race."

9 p.m.: "Three Rivers": Pittsburgh-set medical drama.

10 p.m.: "Cold Case."


8 p.m.: "How I Met Your Mother."

8:30 p.m.: "Accidentally on Purpose": Jenna Elfman ("Dharma & Greg") returns to prime time as Billie, a single woman who finds herself accidentally pregnant after a one-night stand with a younger guy. Billie, a newspaper film critic who once dated her boss (Grant Show), decides to keep the baby and the guy (Jon Foster). Ashley Jensen, who recently left the cast of "Ugly Betty," plays Billie's best friend.

9 p.m.: "Two and a Half Men."

9:30 p.m.: "The Big Bang Theory."

10 p.m.: "CSI: Miami."


8 p.m.: "NCIS."

9 p.m.: "NCIS: Los Angeles": A spin-off that began as a two-part "NCIS" episode earlier this month. Chris O'Donnell, whose character was last seen shot, stars alongside LL Cool J and Louise Lombard.

10 p.m.: "The Good Wife": Julianna Margulies ("Canterbury's Law") plays Alicia, a wife and mother who must re-enter the workforce after her politician husband (Chris Noth, "Sex and the City") lands in a public sex and political corruption scandal. Alicia joins a law firm where she finds a mentor (Christine Baranski, "Cybill") and a young competitor (Matt Czuchry, "Gilmore Girls").


8 p.m.: "The New Adventures of Old Christine."

8:30 p.m.: "Gary Unmarried."

9 p.m.: "Criminal Minds."

10 p.m.: "CSI: NY."


8 p.m.: "Survivor."

9 p.m.: "CSI."

10 p.m.: "The Mentalist."


8 p.m.: "Ghost Whisperer."

9 p.m.: "Medium."

10 p.m.: "NUMB3RS."


8 p.m.: Drama reruns.

9 p.m.: Drama reruns.

10 p.m.: "48 Hours Mystery."


"Miami Trauma": Another medical drama about expert surgeons. Series is executive produced by Jerry Bruckheimer ("CSI") and stars Jeremy Northam, Lana Parrilla and Omar Gooding.

"The Bridge": Aaron Douglas ("Battlestar Galatica") stars as a cop/police union leader in this Canadian import.

"Arranged Marriage": Three adult Americans submit to arranged marriages in this docu-reality series.

"Undercover Boss": Another reality show, this one features corporate executives who secretly slip into the lowest level jobs in their companies.

TBS's Pittsburgh plans

Although upfronts are traditionally Big Four events, Turner has moved its presentation to advertisers into the same week in an effort to play with the big boys of broadcasting.

One piece of development at TBS that's of local note: "The Game of Life," a sitcom executive produced by Kevin James ("The King of Queens"), is set in Pittsburgh.

Because the show is listed as "in development," it may not ever see the light of day, but if it does, it will follow "four Pittsburgh friends as they reunite in their early 30s, only to discover life didn't turn out quite as planned."

DTV conversion

The complete conversion to digital TV -- coming June 12 when the remaining Pittsburgh stations still broadcasting in analog shut down their analog signals -- probably won't have much impact in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

As of last week, Nielsen estimates just 1.37 percent of local homes are completely unprepared for the switch. Many local stations will do another round of analog shutoff tests today at 7:25 a.m., 12:25 and 6:25 p.m. If you're watching on cable/satellite or have a digital-to-analog converter hooked up, you won't notice any disruption.

The Federal Communications Commission advises that consumers have until July 31 to request converter box coupons by calling 1-888-CALL-FCC. According to the FCC, 438,942 Pittsburghers have ordered coupons for converter boxes but only 203,518 had been redeemed as of May 6. Coupons expire 90 days after they are issued.

Contact TV editor Rob Owen at rowen@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1112. Read the Tuned In Journal blog . First Published May 21, 2009 4:00 AM


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