There’s going to be more Charlie Brown on ABC for the next few years. The network announced today that its finalized an an additional 5-year agreement with Peanuts Worldwide LLC and Lee Mendelson Film Productions to continue showing the Charles M. Schulz holiday specials until 2020. First aired in 1965, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, and A Charlie Brown Christmas have been on ABC since December 2001. The Emmy Award-winning specials by Peanuts creator Charles Schulz are produced and animated by Lee Mendelson and Bill Melendez. No details of the agreement were made available. However, even while down from last year this year, the specials certainly have been a return on investment for the network. Airing on December 3, this year’s A Charlie Brown Christmas was down 34% from its November 28 airing in 2012 but still beat Fox’s new Almost Human among Adults 18-49. Last year’s Peanuts Christmas special actually topped the Adults 18-49 demo in the 8PM-9:30PM time slot beating out The X-Factor, Survivor and NBC’s Christmas at Rockefeller Center.
Related: R.I.P. Nelson Mandela
UPDATE, 10:50 AM: Programs on the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela will take their place in ABC and CBS’ primetime lineups this weekend, but there won’t be any changes to their schedules. ABC said today that tonight’s 20/20 will be a special Nelson Mandela: A Man Who Changed The World broadcast following the human rights icon’s death yesterday. However, the telecast hosted by David Muir and Robin Roberts won’t cause alterations to ABC’s Friday primetime lineup — it will still air in its regular 10 PM slot. NBC tells me that right now Friday’s 8PM Dateline will stay with its previously scheduled report on a missing CIA employee. On Saturday at 9PM, CBS’ 48 Hours will air a special Nelson Mandela: Father Of A Nation hosted by CBS news anchor Scott Pelley and in its regular time slot. None of the evening news broadcasts are set to expand as NBC and ABC did Thursday.
There will be less Scandal on ABC‘s schedule this season than originally planned. The network has reduced the order for the hot Shonda Rhimes drama from 22 to 18 episodes. The network wouldn’t give a reason for the cutback but, of course, it is not because ABC doesn’t want a full season of Scandal — it would gladly take 40 episodes a season from its new flagship drama series if it could. But Scandal star Kerry Washington is pregnant, and it’s getting hard to hide the pregnancy in loose-fitting clothes for the normally super stylish and elegant Olivia Pope — and it’s hard to reduce Washington’s workload as Pope is the show and in most scenes. The episode reduction would probably be an unexpected but welcome relief for Scandal‘s writers as it is extremely hard to sustain a dense serialized drama like Scandal for a 22-episode season. (The show did seven episodes in Season 1 and 22 in Season 2.) Scandal cannot be hotter — season-to-date, the series is up 57% in adults 18-49 (4.4) and 50% in total viewers (12.6 million) vs. last year. It is the fastest-growing returning series this season and in the so-important C3 ratings that determine ad revenues, Scandal just moved ahead of NBC’s breakout The Blacklist (3.58 rating vs. 3.55). Scandal also has been regularly building on its Grey’s Anatomy lead-in, by a best-ever 29% last night. A pregnancy …
EXCLUSIVE: Vinnie Jones and Luis Guzman have been tapped for recurring roles on ABC’s midseason drama series Mind Games, about two brothers — Ross (Christian Slater), a con man, and Clark (Steve Zahn), suffering from bipolar disorder — as they run a problem-solving firm that uses psychological manipulation.
ABC Buys Dramas From David Diamond, David Weissman & Temple Hill; Jonathan Abrams, Marcus Wiley & Julia Franz
Writers David Diamond and David Weissman (The Family Man) have sold dual-reality drama The Double Life Of Emily Reed to ABC through ABC Studios and studio-based Temple Hill. Emily Reed is a 35-year-old divorcee from New Jersey with two kids who’s at a tipping point in her life when she makes the life-changing decision to move herself and her kids in with her mom. Just when she gives up on all her dreams, Emily magically wakes up the next morning in a gorgeous Soho loft lying next to an even more gorgeous naked man. And thus begins the double life of Emily Reed, where she lives each day twice — once as a divorced mother of two in suburban New Jersey, and again as a successful independent New York business woman.
EXCLUSIVE: ABC Family‘s upcoming drama series Chasing Life has not been assigned a premiere date yet, but it just received a back order for seven episodes. The cast was given the good news today, just in time for Thanksgiving. The back order brings the first season of Chasing Life to 20 episodes, which is ABC Family’s standard for a full season. Chasing Life, from Kapital Entertainment, Lionsgate, Televisa and BV Family Prods, hails from the same pilot batch as ABC Family dramas The Fosters and Twisted. The other two had initial orders for 10 episodes and received back 10 orders after strong early ratings performance last summer. For Chasing Life, whose original order was for 13 episodes, the back order comes ahead of its premiere, slated for next year, representing a strong vote of confidence by the network.
Half-hour comedies Melissa & Joey and Baby Daddy are both set to return on January 15, ABC Family announced today. Melissa & Joey is up first at 8 PM, followed by Baby Daddy at 8:30 PM. Melissa & Joey stars Melissa Joan Hart, Joey Lawrence, Taylor Spreitler and Nick Robinson, and is executive produced by Bob Young & David Kendall, Paula Hart, Melissa Joan Hart and Lawrence. Baby Daddy, created and exec produced by Dan Berendsen, stars Jean-Luc Bilodeau, Derek Theler, Tahj Mowry with Melissa Peterman and Chelsea Kane. The returning series join previously announced all-new episodes of Pretty Little Liars and Ravenswood on January 7 and Switched At Birth and The Fosters on January 13.
ABC News and Katie Couric are breaking up. Couric, meanwhile, is close to a deal with Yahoo which would include doing an interview show for the Internet giant. Yahoo, ironically, has a news-sharing contract with ABC News.
ABC News was on the hook for a much smaller portion of Couric’s reported $20 million paycheck with the company than is the syndication operation, with which she has a deal for her daytime talk show Katie. The ABC News gig was seen by some as a vanity thing tacked to her talk show by those who have noted she’s not done much for ABC News in the past year. Anyway, it’s no longer the case that ABC News will be paying part of her paycheck.
“Katie is an incredible journalist and this was an opportunity that she couldn’t pass up. Thanks to the powerful association between ABC News and Yahoo we know that Katie will continue to work closely with us and welcome her on our air anytime,” an ABC News exec with knowledge of the situation told Deadline. Yes, it sounded pretty don’t-let-the-door-hit-you-on-the-way-out to us too.
Couric’s talk show is now in its second — and, it’s been widely speculated for some time, final — season, though syndication axes don’t generally fall until after all November sweep stats are in. The show has been plagued with exec producer changes and shifts in direction since its initial good launch, and station execs are not happy with the product. Most expect the show to end its run after fulfilling its two-year commitment with the ABC Stations in May. There had been speculation that ABC might try to get another year at a lower price while preparing a replacement, but that does not appear likely.
ABC News’ Amy Robach, whose cancer diagnosis after an on-air mammogram made news, says her double mastectomy has revealed a second, previously undetected malignant tumor. “My prognosis is good, I got very lucky finding the cancer through our ABC sponsored mammogram and I got lucky choosing an aggressive approach, bilateral mastectomy, because while in surgery last week my surgeon found a second, undetected malignant tumor,” Robach said today in a memo to Good Morning America staff.
EXCLUSIVE: Former Private Practice executive producer Barbie Kligman has joined ABC‘s adaptation of upcoming Australian crime mystery drama Secrets & Lies, from ABC Studios, Aaron Kaplan’s Kapital Entertainment and Australian-based Hoodlum. Kligman will serve as writer/executive producer/showrunner on the project, which has a 10-episode commitment and already is exploring casting choices. The original six-episode series stars Martin Henderson as a family man who finds the body of a young boy and quickly becomes the prime murder suspect. He has no choice but to try to find the real killer as his marriage, his kids, his reputation, and his sanity are all at stake. Kligman, repped by WME and Bruce Gellman, will exec produce alongside Kaplan and Hoodlum’s Tracey Robertson and Nathan Mayfield. Kligman comes from the Shonda Rhimes school of showrunning. She spent three years on Rhimes’ Private Practice, rising to executive producer/co-head writer in the final season. Before that she was a co-executive producer on The Vampire Diaries.
When it lost a summary injunction back in September, the network said it wasn’t done trying to get Dish Network’s Hopper service shut down and today ABC took another swing at it. In a brief dated November 12 and filed today (read it here) with the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, ABC and Disney Enterprises went after the satellite provider’s ad-jumping DVR service again. The thrust of the network’s new appeal is that U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain not only misunderstood the market harm the service poses but misinterpreted copyright law in her ruling earlier this fall that it was not Dish but the consumers, by choosing what to record, who were actually engaged in the process of making copies of programming that they then could watch ad-free later. In its heavily redacted brief, ABC says that “by exercising exclusive control over the copying process and by operating the service to record” with the Hopper’s Primetime Anywhere and AutoHop services, it is Dish who is really in control of the process not the consumer.
ABC has firmed up its midseason scheduling plans. With Super Fun Night only getting a Back 4 order, the network will try out another new comedy series, Mixology, in the Wednesday 9:30 PM slot behind Modern Family. The high-concept series, which takes place at a bar over the course of one night and features a 10-member core cast, will premiere on February 26. ABC previously used flagship Modern Family to launch another single-camera young ensemble comedy, Happy Endings, which recently ended its run. Meanwhile, Suburgatory will return to its original Tuesday 8:30 PM slot where it was so successful in its first season, launching Season 3 on January 15 to succeed departing Back In The Game.
ABC is making changes to some previously announced midseason moves. Once Upon A Time and Revenge are still slated to return from their winter hiatuses on March 9, joined by new drama Resurrection. But Revenge will move to 10 PM, with Resurrection taking over its 9 PM slot. With its supernatural theme (Resurrection is about deceased loved ones returning to a small town), it is considered a better fit for dark-ish fairytale drama Once than the glitzy soap Revenge. On Thursday, ABC was to launch adventure reality series The Quest, from The Amazing Race creators, on January 2. The competition has now been pushed to summer, with cooking reality series The Taste and CIA drama The Assets taking over Thursday night while Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal are on hiatus, returning on February 27. In another tweak, Nashville — originally slated to go on hiatus like Once, Grey’s and Scandal under ABC’s newly adopted split-season model before returning on February 26 — will now stay on, airing a total of four originals in January and February. I hear ABC brass felt that maybe they were taking too many dramas off, and Nashville‘s strong DVR following could help it through repeats. Of the freshman dramas, Betrayal will have aired its entire limited-run first season before it goes off the air, while Once Upon A Time In Wonderland will air its fall finale on Dec. 12 and will return with a few more originals in the spring. New procedurals Killer Women and Mind Games will split the Tuesday 10 PM slot previously occupied by cancelled drama Lucky 7. Here are ABC’s new mideason premiere dates, followed by descriptions of the new series:
EXCLUSIVE: In a competitive situation, ABC has landed hot Israeli talent competition reality format Rising Star. The network has given a 10-episode order to the series, which will air next summer. Rising Star is the first hot international singing format to hit the U.S. since The Voice. It also is the first project to come out of the recently launched Keshet DCP, a joint venture between Keshet International (Homeland) and DC Media, the parent company of dick clark prods. (So You Think You Can Dance). Keshet DCP is producing Rising Star, which joins such established talent competition series that also launched in the summer as American Idol, Dancing With The Stars, America’s Got Talent, and SYTYCD.
The on-going multi-million legal drama between Prospect Park and ABC over licensed soaps All My Children and One Life To Live looks poised to get much rougher and much pricier. Nearly seven months after Jeff Kwatinetz and former Walt Disney Studios president Rich Frank’s company first filed a breach of contract lawsuit against ABC, their lawyers Wednesday entered an amended complaint in LA Superior Court. One big change is how much money the plaintiffs are seeking. “As a direct and proximate result of ABC’s breaches, Prospect Park has been damaged in an amount to be determined at trial, but including at least $30 million in out-of-pocket losses and/or at least $95 million in lost profits,” says today’s filing. That’s way up from the $25 million the plaintiffs were looking for in April. Claims that ABC called “baseless” then. The now amended suit also includes claims of promissory fraud and declaratory relief and seeks Prospect Park’s continued licensing fee payments to be waived and an extension of that agreement while the case goes on – which could be years.
In addition to previous allegations of dirty dealing on ABC’s part, today’s filing says that the network inked long term agreements with OLTL actors behind the production company’s back. in the hope of creating a new property of its own. “Unbeknownst to Prospect Park, at …