Returning strong last week after a long winter break, both ABC’s Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy took a hit last night. Back for the second week since its break, the Shonda Rhimes produced political intrigue series drew a 2.8/8 among adults 18-49 last night. That’s a sharp 18% drop from last week’s results. The Washington D.C.-based show was led in by Rhimes’ Seattle-based Grey’s, which also had returned on February 27. The medical drama pulled a 2.6/7 in the key demo – a 16% slide from last week. ABC started the night with the return of another show that had taken a long hiatus. Back with its first new show since December 12, 2013, Once Upon A Time In Wonderland (0.8/3) was even with that last original. That left the fantasy-drama tying a series low.
The Peacock network’s tie-ins with the Obama administration continue. NBC said today that Michelle Obama will do a cameo on the season finale of Parks And Recreation. Her scene in the episode titled “Moving Up” celebrates healthier out-of-school programs as part of her “Let’s Move” initiative against childhood obesity. The First Lady’s appearance continues a recent trend of NBC team-ups with D.C. heavyweights. She helped goose the ratings for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon last week in a sleepover skit with the host and Will Ferrell. And earlier this week Vice President Joe Biden was the second guest on Seth Meyers’ first night hosting Late Night; the Veep followed Parks And Rec star Amy Poehler, whose character famously idolizes Biden. (He also did a cameo on the sitcom that aired shortly after the 2012 elections.) And on February 14, Community star Joel McHale was tapped as host of the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in May. Then there was pre-pinkeye Bob Costas’ pre-Olympics interview with President Obama on February 6. Michelle Obama’s Parks And Rec episode airs April 24.
Here is Deadline’s annual list of The Overachievers Of Pilot Season. For anyone, landing a pilot is a major accomplishment. These selected few individuals/production companies took that achievement to the next level.
Related: Primetime Pilot Panic!
With marquee comedy clients including Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Kevin Hart, 3 Arts has been building a strong TV production business. The management/production company has set a new personal record this season with nine greenlights. That includes one straight-to-series order for the Tina Fey/Robert Carlock comedy Tooken at NBC, one pilot/series track order at Fox for Cabot College, from Matt Hubbard, Fey and Carlock, and five more pilots: the comedies untitled Kevin Hart project at ABC, Amy Poehler’s Old Soul and Love Is Relative at NBC and Tom Papa’s More Time With the Family at CBS, plus untitled Richard LaGravenese drama at ABC. Additionally, three 3 Arts pilots from last season, Mulaney and Mr. Robinson, recently received series orders for next season.
Amblin TV has one pilot/series track order at Fox for drama Red Band Society, starring Octavia Spencer, and pilot orders for drama The Visitors at ABC and comedy The Money Pit at NBC. Additionally, the company scored a straight-to-series order this season for sci-fi drama Extant, which landed Halle Berry as the lead, for a summer launch.
Related: PILOT SEASON: How Many Orders Is Each Broadcast Network Eyeing This Year
Sarah Timberman and Carl Beverly‘s Timberman-Beverly has a straight-to-series order at ABC for untitled David O. Russell/Susannah Grant drama and three pilots at CBS, comedy The Odd Couple starring Matthew Perry and untitled John Cusack and David Marshall Grant drama projects.
Aaron Kaplan‘s one-man indie shop Kapital Entertainment landed a pilot order with series penalty at ABC for Secrets & Lies, toplined by Ryan Phillippe, and pilot orders for drama The Mysteries of Laura starring Debra Messing at NBC and comedy Dead Boss starring Jane Krakowski at Fox.
30 Rock alum Matt Hubbard, creator/showrunner of Fox’s comedy pilot Cabot College, which is on a series track, has inked a new two-year overall deal with the project’s studio, Universal TV, which also produced 30 Rock. Under the pact, Hubbard will continue on Cabot College, which he is executive producing with Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, and will develop and supervise new projects for the studio. Currently a consulting producer on NBC/Uni TV’s Parks & Recreation, Hubbard spent the last seven seasons as a writer/producer on NBC’s 30 Rock, most recently as a co-executive producer. He won a best comedy writing Emmy in 2009 for the Reunion episode and was subsequently nominated again in this category in 2010 and 2011. He also shared in the show’s best comedy series wins in 2008 and 2009. “Matt is a funny, smart writer with the ability to write hard jokes and great story,” said Uni TV EVP Uni TV Bela Bajaria. Hubbard is repped by UTA and attorney Ken Richman.
Liz Friedlander is set to direct CBS’ Kevin Williamson drama pilot, from WBTV. Written and executive produced by The Following creator Williamson, the psychological thriller centers around a pair of detectives who handle stalking incidents for the Threat Management Unit of the LAPD. Friedlander has a shorthand with Williamson — she has directed multiple episodes of The Following and Williamson’s CW series The Vampire Diaries and helmed the pilot and multiple episodes of CW’s The Secret Circle, which Williamson executive produced.
Craig Zisk (New Girl, Parks & Recreation) is set to direct NBC’s comedy pilot Two To Go, from Universal TV, David Janollari Entertainment and Jason Bateman’s Aggregate Films. Written by Kevin Chelsey and Bryan Shukoff, the project centers on long-time best friends Kurt and Laura who grapple with the challenges of modern-day dating. This marks the second pilot for Zisk this season — he just wrapped ABC’s comedy An American Education. He also was a co-executive producer/director on Fox’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Repped by UTA, Brillstein Entertainment and attorney Jared Levine.
Joe Biden’s heading back to NBC. Calling it “Must-see TV,” the Vice-President’s office announced today via Twitter that Biden will be appearing on the premiere of Late Night With Seth Meyers on February 24. The Veep will be on the new show alongside Meyers ‘former SNL castmate Amy Poehler, who had already been announced as the show’s first guest. This is not the first time the duo have been on screen together. Biden did a cameo back in November 2012 on Poehler’s Parks And Recreation. Rumored to be seriously looking at a 2016 bid for the Oval Office, Biden got a little bit of fictional political stardust last night at the White House State Dinner for the French President. The real life Veep sat with HBO’s Veep star Julia Louis-Dreyfus last night at the gathering. The Emmy-winning actress tweeted a pic of the two Veeps together Tuesday. The two last publicly meet up last April for the real VP’s Being Biden social media series.
Actor-writer Colton Dunn (Key & Peele) has been cast opposite Rob Lowe and Rob Riggle in NBC’s single-camera comedy pilot The Pro. Written by Pete Huyck and Alex Gregory, The Pro centers on former tennis doubles champion “Big Ben” Bertrahm (Lowe), whose career flame-out and misguided investments have left him working as the pro at a tennis and golf club. Dunn will play Lewis, the head engineer and club bookie who fears a change in the status quo when successful and wealthy Bobby Welch (Riggle) arrives as the new tennis pro. Dunn, repped by Paradigm and Prinicpato-Young, has recurred on Parks And Recreation, The League and Burning Love.
NBC’s ‘Chicago Fire’, ‘Parks & Rec’, ‘Grimm’ And ‘Parenthood’ Go Digital To Keep Fans Engaged During Games
NBC announced today it will offer digital series for four of its primetime series; Chicago Fire, Parks And Recreation, Grimm, and Parenthood to keep fans focused in February while Olympics take over NBC’s primetime. All digital series will be streamed on NBC.com, Hulu and YouTube.
From today’s announcement:
UPDATED: NBC has decided to pull The Michael J. Fox Show from the schedule a week after doing the same with its companion Sean Saves The World. Starting this Thursday, NBC will have Olympics coverage in primetime. Beginning February 27, the first Thursday after the Winter Olympics, NBC will air Hollywood Game Night in the 9 PM hour, following Community and Parks & Recreation. Hollywood Game Night, which is produced by Sean Saves The World exec producers Sean Hayes and Todd Milliner, is slated to run through April 3. There is no decision what will go in the 9-10 PM slot after that. Production on The Michael J. Fox Show wrapped in December, and 15 of the 22 completed episodes have aired. There are no plans for the remaining 7 episodes, though the show is not officially cancelled, and NBC brass will try to find a spot for them. All three new NBC Thursday comedies — early casualty Welcome To the Family, Michael J. Fox and Sean Saves The World — have done very poorly in the ratings. In their most recent airing January 24, both Michael J. Fox and Sean logged an underwhelming 0.7 in 18-49 a week after Michael J. Fox posted that dismal 0.6 demo rating. “We like [MJ Fox]. We like Sean Hayes’ show a lot. Creatively, we think they’re good shows, and we’re really unhappy that we can’t find …
We’re in the midst of the annual ritual of broadcast casting executives chasing their tails, also known as casting the leads of dozens of network pilots at the same time. As usual, many pilots go after the same names, resulting in a few actors holding a slew of offers thus bringing pilot season to a standstill.
Related: Primetime Pilot Panic Listings
Last year, Damages‘ Rose Byrne was the focus of attention with virtually every pilot vying for her, but she ended up passing on all. Actresses receiving multiple offers early on this season but not yet committing include Jennifer Connelly, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Diane Lane, Maria Bello, Hilary Swank, Octavia Spencer, Felicity Huffman, Kyra Sedgwick, Sarah Chalke and Elizabeth Banks. We already had a very elusive leading lady, Tea Leoni, locked in for a pilot, CBS drama Madam Secretary, with popular pilot targets Jack Davenport, Jennifer Carpenter (both on ABC’s Sea Of Fire) and David Schwimmer (ABC’s Irreversible) also spoken for. Several usual suspects, including Ellie Kemper and Natasha Lyonne, got an early jump by attaching themselves to projects (NBC’s Tina Fey/Robert Carlock series for Kemper, the Amy Poehler pilot for Lyonne).
EXCLUSIVE: HBO has optioned the novel Lookaway, Lookaway by Wilton Barnhardt for a comedy series, which will be executive produced by former HBO entertainment president-turned-producer Sue Naegle and top comedy producer, 3 Arts’ David Miner (30 Rock, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Parks & Recreation). The project, set in Charlotte, North Carolina’s high society, is described as a scathing comic window into the dysfunction of the American family, as Old South traditions clash with 21st Century realities of sex, race, religion and class. Barnhardt will co-executive produce. Search is underway for a writer to pen the project, with Barnhardt involved at the story stage. Naegle, who left HBO in September, also serves as an executive producer on Robert Kirkman’s drama Outcast for HBO sibling Cinemax and Fox International Channels. The Lookaway, Lookaway novel is repped by RWSG.
Sundance Awards: ‘Whiplash’ & ‘Rich Hill’ Win Grand Jury Prizes; Dramatic Directing Goes To Cutter Hodierne For ‘Fishing Without Nets’
It was the first major deal of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and tonight Whiplash was the big winner at the fest’s Awards Ceremony. The Damien Chazelle-directed film about a young drummer, played by Miles Teller, and his demanding teacher, played by JK Simmons, took both the U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury prize and the Audience Award. “This is awesome, thanks so much,” said Chazelle accepting the pic’s Audience Award earlier in the evening. Little did he know the fest hit would go on to win Sundance’s top dramatic prize. The U.S. Documentary Award went to the Andrew Droz Palermo and Tracy Droz Tragos-directed Rich Hill, about three small town Missouri boys seeking better from their sometimes bleak environment. Also making waves with buzzy Sundance awards tonight were first-time director Justin Simien, whose conversation-sparking Dear White People nabbed a Special Jury Prize for Breakthrough Talent; the Ethiopian World Cinema Dramatic Audience Award winner Difret, exec produced by Angelina Jolie; and the Nick Cave docu 20,000 Days On Earth which snagged both Best Directing and Best Editing in the World Cinema Documentary category.
Hosted by Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally, this year’s Awards started over 30 minutes later than its scheduled 6PM PT kick-off time. Once things got going, after a lurid but lame routine by the hosts, it moved fast. Like last year when Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who had his own directorial feature debut Don Jon premiere at Sundance 2013, hosted the awards ceremony, Offerman and Mullally both have films at the festival. The Parks & Recreation star fronted Nick Offerman: American Ham, which premiered on January 23 in Salt Lake City, and Mullally is one of the voices in the English-language version of the animated pic Ernest & Celestine, which was screened January 18 as part of the new Sundance Kids selection. Offerman and Mullally opened with a monologue that centered more on their sex life than indie film. “In short, we have seen your movies and we have found them arousing,” deadpanned Offerman.
Departing Parks & Recreation original cast member Rashida Jones has lined up her next series vehicle, signing on to play the lead in TBS‘ single-camera comedy Tribeca, co-created and directed by Steve Carell. Co-written by Carell and his wife, actress Nancy Carell, Tribeca is a satirical look at a police procedural anchored by Angie Tribeca (Jones), an outspoken 10-year veteran of the LAPD’s elite RHCU (Really Heinous Crimes Unit). The project explores an eccentric but brilliant group of people who investigate crime, reveal way too much personal information, and refuse to rest until justice has been served…sort of. A lone wolf, Angie is not thrilled when told she has to work with a partner. The Carells are executive producing the pilot through their Carousel TV, with production tentatively scheduled for February/March. Jones had been in high demand since word leaked in that summer that she would be leaving Parks & Recreation. The actress, repped by UTA and attorney James Adams, had been very busy as a producer via her shingle with Will McCormack Le Train Train. In its first year under a deal at Warner Bros TV, the company has sold six project and recently landed its first pilot order for comedy A to Z at NBC. Picking a starring vehicle outside of her deal was somewhat surprising but I hear Carell actively pursued her, and she sparked to the premise of …
The success on other nights this fall has made NBC‘s ratings struggles on Thursday even more glaring. “Thursday night is a real challenge for us, something that we’re well aware of as we head into pilot season and start to think about the fall schedule next year,” NBC Chairman Bob Greenblatt said at TCA today. “Comedy has proven to be very difficult for us.” No kidding. This past Thursday, The Michael J. Fox Show hit a series low of 0.6 rating in 18-49, a number a show rarely logs and lives to see another airing. ”We’re, obviously, not happy about a .6 for any show and especially for Michael J. Fox,” Greenblatt said. “We like that show. We like Sean Hayes’ show a lot. Creatively, we think they’re good shows, and we’re really unhappy that we can’t find an audience for them in those time periods. So we’re going to still work hard to see what we can do on Thursday nights. It is a real, real uphill battle.”
Greenblatt’s initial assessment of Michael J. Fox Show‘s renewal chances was pretty grim: “Obviously, we have to see how it plays out for the next few months and then get in the scheduling room and make some hard decisions. It’s not anywhere near where we’d like it to be.” He got more optimistic as the session went on. “I’d love to figure out a way to bring it back,” he said. “We may move it around the schedule a little bit.”
NBC Chairman made the announcement when pressed by critics at TCA about the future of well reviewed by ratings-challenged Parks & Recreation. He initially said he was “bullish” on the show’s chances before going a step further, stating that “Parks & Recreation is going to have a seventh season.” NBC entertainment president Jennifer Salke was quick to jump in and note that a renewal for Parks & Recreation does not impact a pickup decision on Community, which NBC brass also like but will evaluate their comedy plans for next season before making a decision.
Parks & Recreation star and Golden Globes co-host Amy Poehler has inked a three-year overall deal with NBC and Universal TV, the studio behind the praised comedy. The first project under the pact is a comedy co-created by Poehler, which has received a pilot green light from NBC. Tentatively titled Old Soul, it stars Natasha Lyonne as a young woman who’s trying to find herself, but in the meantime she’s working as the aide to a group of opinionated elderly people. “This show, hopefully, will blow up some of the cliches we think about old people,” NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt said. “It’s been a while since The Golden Girls gave us a funny and insightful ensemble of seniors, and I hope this show will do that too.” Greenblatt later noted that he wants seniors represented on TV.
“There’s great actors available to play roles like this.We spend a lot of time looking for 20‑ and 30‑somethings and not that much time looking for 60‑somethings.So we just thought it was a different way to go with a comedy landscape that starts to feel very familiar and homogeneous.”Poehler co-created the project with Jonathan Fener and Josh Bycel, who also have an overall deal at Uni TV. The script was written on spec and was only delivered a couple of days ago. The three executive produce with 3 Arts’ Dave …