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Pilot Watch: Les Moonves Edition

As usual, CBS doesn’t have many holes to fill heading into the May upfront, meaning it will once again be hard for its pilots in contention to get on the schedule of the current No. 1 network.

Though CBS has ordered 23 pilots this year, more than it has in the past, it expects to pick up fewer to series than the six it ordered last May, CBS Corp. president and CEO Leslie Moonves said on the company’s earnings conference call Thursday

“There aren’t going to be a lot of new shows like there were last year, which allows us to sell even better,” he said. “We’re not going to need very much.”

Moonves is known to be very involved in CBS’ pilot process, and offered a clue as to which projects might get tapped in May, calling out three projects to analysts on Thursday: Chuck Lorre comedy Mom starring Anna Faris as a newly sober single mom in Napa Valley, drama Anatomy of Violence from Homeland creators Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa about a criminal psychologist who shares a conflicted past with a young female detective, and Jerry Bruckheimer’s Hostages starring Toni Collette as a surgeon thrown into a conspiracy after being chosen to operate on the President.

While Moonves has in years past predicted double-digit increases in ad pricing prior to the upfront (he was correct in 2011 but wrong in 2012), this year he demurred, failing to specify how much higher he expected any of the new pilots or existing hit series to drive revenue.

“It’s a bit early to make the prediction,” he said. “We’re going to be up, but I’m not going to give a number.”