In 2007, the people at CBS decided they should start a new film division. The tanking economy and the fact that there were already well over 50 million production companies in Hollywood didn't matter. This is CBS, for crying out loud! In a universe where Fox doesn't have American Idol skewing the average, CBS is the No. 1 network! Surely a power as mighty as that can make a dent in the theatrical market.
CBS's new film division, cleverly called CBS Films, has its first product arriving in theaters this week. It's called Extraordinary Measures, and it stars Brendan Fraser as a man looking for a cure to his children's illness, with help from a cranky scientist played by Harrison Ford. Perhaps not coincidentally, the trailers for the film make it look like a made-for-TV movie, like something CBS would air on a Saturday night when nobody's looking before selling it to the Hallmark Channel. That's not a criticism, simply an observation.
A criticism is that CBS Films' next movie, The Back-Up Plan, looks absolutely rancid. Due April 16, it's a romantic comedy starring Jennifer Lopez as a baby-hungry woman who gets artificially inseminated and THEN meets the man of her dreams. Doh! This is why CBS broke into the movie biz? To make the same movies that people were already making, only with J-Lo instead of Kate Hudson?
CBS has a lot of assets at its disposal. Here, for free, is some advice on how to best use those assets in a way that will separate CBS Films from the other 900 million Hollywood production companies that are working on 2.1 trillion movies to be released this year alone.
- The Price Is Wrong. In this darkly comic thriller, retired game show host Bob Barker is stalked by a deranged Price Is Right contestant who blames him for her loss 20 years ago. As a result, that pocket in his suit coat where he used to keep $100 bills for contestants who bid exactly right? It now contains a gun.
- Around the Clock. Thanks to the trailer, Harrison Ford's impassioned utterance in Extraordinary Measures -- "I already work around the clock!" -- has gained prominence online as a catchphrase, similar to his previous "Get off my plane!" or Mel Gibson's "Give me back my son!" Who else works around the clock? Jack Bauer, that's who. Here's CBS Films' chance to capitalize on 24's success with its own real-time thriller, in which Ford must work around the clock -- well, for two hours, since it's just a movie -- to stop terrorists. If it's a success, a spin-off TV show would be the logical next step.
- The Big Bang Theory About How I Met Your Two and a Half Men. One of the CBS network's most lucrative assets right now is its Monday night sitcom lineup, and several of those shows' stars -- Charlie Sheen, Jon Cryer, Jason Segel, Alyson Hannigan, Neil Patrick Harris -- already have a fair amount of movie experience. Why not shove them all into one big hilarious movie adaptation? Literally, why not?? Have Bob Saget narrate the story of how two science nerds met a couple of brothers who are raising a little boy. Hilarity would have no choice but to ensue. Bonus points for having Ray Romano do a cameo.
- Survivor: The Moon. The godfather of the modern reality show is still going strong, but they've started to run out of isolated places on Earth to send people, and the lawyers said Detroit was too dangerous. The obvious solution: put the contestants on the moon. This will be very expensive, of course, which is why they should do it as a theatrical event rather than give it away for free on TV. Whoever outlasts the other contestants wins $1 million and the right to come home. Everyone else has to stay. Bonus: This rids the world of 15 more reality-show contestants.
- CSI: Miami: The Movie. If for no other reason than to finally give David Caruso that movie career he always wanted. To be followed by a sequel, CSI: Miami: The Movie: Part 2: The Cloning.
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Eric D. Snider (website) would also like to suggest 60 Minutes: Spring Break.