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Tea Leoni to play secretary of state in new CBS series on fall schedule; 8 series ordered

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NEW YORK, N.Y. - Tea Leoni will portray the U.S. secretary of state in a new CBS drama this fall, the long-running comedy "Two and Half Men" will enter its final season and television's top-rated network will introduce a new generation of crime procedurals.

CBS said Wednesday it has ordered eight new series for next season, five of them premiering in the fall, with a New Orleans-based spinoff of TV's most popular series, "NCIS," among them.

As it has been for 11 of the past 12 years, CBS will end the season as television's top network. Viewership was down this season, however, and CBS is doubling down on what its viewers find familiar: five of the six new dramas will be about fighting crime.

The exception is "Madam Secretary," on which Leoni will star as a former college professor turned secretary of state. It will be paired on CBS' Sunday night schedule with the network's most critically acclaimed drama, "The Good Wife."

"Two and a Half Men," which began airing in 2003, will have its farewell season. The series has survived despite losing one and a half of the men, Charlie Sheen and youthful actor Angus T. Jones, in noisy fashion. Creator Chuck Lorre promises plenty of surprises for the final season, but top CBS entertainment executive Nina Tassler said she doesn't know whether bringing Sheen's character back from the dead will be one of them.

"NCIS: New Orleans," which will star Scott Bakula, gets the prized time slot of Tuesday following "NCIS." The already established spinoff, "NCIS: Los Angeles," will move to Monday nights.

"Late Show" host David Letterman, who plans to retire next year, appeared to a standing ovation Wednesday afternoon at CBS' annual schedule presentation to advertisers. Standing next to CBS Corp. Chairman Leslie Moonves, he recalled a two-day, phone-slamming battle they had years ago.

"We've since made up," said Letterman, who saluted Moonves as "nothing but supportive."

For the first time in more than 25 years, CBS' Monday schedule will not include four comedies. The 9 p.m. Monday time slot, long the home to CBS' most high-profile comedies, will instead be filled by "Scorpion," about eccentric geniuses fighting crime. While a drama, "Scorpion" has its funny moments, Tassler said.

CBS will air NFL football games on Thursday nights through late October, meaning its regular Thursday evening of entertainment shows won't premiere until Oct. 30. The network will temporarily move "The Big Bang Theory" to Mondays until the Thursday football games stop.

CBS is cancelling "The Crazy Ones," starring Robin Williams, after one season. The two highest-profile new comedies of last season, starring Williams and Michael J. Fox on NBC, proved to be failures. CBS also ended "Bad Teacher," ''Intelligence," ''Hostages" and "Friends With Better Lives."

Somewhat surprisingly, CBS rejected "How I Met Your Dad," the planned spinoff to "How I Met Your Mother" featuring Meg Ryan as a narrator. Tassler said CBS had creative problems with the pilot and wanted producers to redo it but they would not.

The network stressed its plans to stay open for business all year, bringing fresh programming on the air constantly. To that end, "The Mentalist," ''Mike & Molly" and "Undercover Boss" will return next season; it's just not certain when. New series starring Matthew Perry, Josh Duhamel and Patricia Arquette were ordered but won't appear in the fall.

Other new series planned by CBS:

— "Stalker," starring Dylan McDermott as a detective investigating stalking incidents.

— "The McCarthys," a comedy about a sports-crazed Boston family.

— "Battle Creek," with Duhamel and Dean Winters as a mismatched law enforcement team in Michigan.

— "CSI: Cyber," a high-tech spinoff of "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" starring Arquette.

— "The Odd Couple," a comedy remake with Perry as the slob and Thomas Lennon as his neat-freak friend.

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