Forget billboards, the co-creator and stars of NBC’s midseason comedy series Undateable are embarking on a multi-city, cross-country comedy tour to promote their show that will hit all the top TV markets. The tour will feature series co-creator/exec producer Bill Lawrence and stars Chris D’Elia, Brent Morin, Ron Funches and Rick Glassman — all stand-up comedians — with each show showcasing a stand-up set from each of the actors sneaking the humor on the show and Lawrence serving as host. “Since it’s so hard to launch a network comedy in this competitive landscape, we thought we would try a little grassroots marketing,” said co-creator/executive producer Adam Sztykiel. “Plus, it will be exciting to see Bill travel around in a van.”
UPDATE: NBC also gave a pilot order to single-camera comedy The Pro, starring and executive produced by Rob Lowe. Comedy veterans Pete Huyck and Alex Gregory wrote write the script and serve as showrunners, with Todd Holland set to direct. The project, which had a production commitment, stems from a development deal NBC inked with Lowe in the summer when he was finalizing his upcoming exit from Parks And Recreation. It is co-produced by ABC Studios, which has a deal with Huyck and Gregory, and Universal TV, with ABC Studios taking lead. The Pro stars Lowe as former tennis doubles champion “Big Ben” Bertrahm, whose career flame-out and misguided investments have left him working as the pro at a tennis and golf club, where he tries to hustle and charm his way back into America’s 1%. Huyck and Gregory are executive producing with Holland and Karey Burke through their Uni TV-based Dark Toy banner, and Brillstein Entertainment’s Marc Gurvitz.
EXCLUSIVE: NBC has put in development a multi-camera comedy produced by Bill Lawrence. Written by Dan Lagana, co-creator of the MTV series Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous, Stand-Up Guy centers on a young comedian who pursues his lifelong dream of being a working stand-up while juggling the growing responsibilities of being a husband and soon-to-be-father at home. Warner Bros TV and Lawrence’s studio-based Doozer are producing, with Lagana, Lawrence and Jeff Ingold executive producing. Lagana, repped by CAA and Karl Austen, also developed a dad comedy with WBTV two seasons ago when the project sold to Fox. ICM-repped Doozer, which has four series on the air – Cougar Town on TBS and upcoming Ground Floor on TBS, Surviving Jack on Fox and Undateable on NBC — also has a Jeff Astrof multi-camera comedy project at CBS with a put pilot commitment.
EXCLUSIVE: Having just released Unvarnished, her first new album since 2006, iconic punk rocker Joan Jett is returning to the big screen — both in front of and behind it. Along with her Blackheart Films partners Kenny Laguna and Carianne Brinkman, Jett is executive producing the dark indie romantic comedy Undateable John. She will play a Venice Beach surf punk musician who befriends misfit lovebirds Jane (Estella Warren) and former pro surfer John (John Philbin) at an AA meeting. The recovery tale, directed by Demian Lichtenstein from a script by Cynthia Posner, also stars Daryl Hannah, Tom Arnold, Margaret Cho, Meredith Baxter, and Shannen Doherty. Jett’s most recent screen foray came as exec producer of the story about the formation and breakup of her groundbreaking punk band dramatized in The Runaways, which cast Twilight Saga‘s Kristen Stewart. Jett is no stranger to acting; she starred with Michael J. Fox in 1987′s Light Of Day and appeared on Broadway in a early 2000s revival of The Rocky Horror Show. Undateable John is shooting now in LA, and Jett’s supplying tunes for the soundtrack.
UPDATE: NBC Cancels ‘Welcome To The Family’ & ‘Ironside’, Gives ‘Sean Saves The World’ Script Order, Sets Premiere Dates For ‘Community’ & ‘Chicago PD’
UPDATE, 1:55 PM: I’ve learned that NBC‘s other new Thursday comedy awaiting word on its fate, Sean Saves The World, has received an order for 4 additional scripts. While the series posted a 1.1 in adults 18-49 last night, same as freshly cancelled Ironside, it does build on its Welcome To The Family lead-in (0.9 last night), and NBC brass have been encouraged with the show’s creative direction. The third new NBC comedy, The Michael J. Fox Show, has a 22-episode order.
PREVIOUS 13:35: NBC has pulled Ironside and Welcome To The Family three weeks into their freshman runs. Welcome To The Family is gone effective immediately, while Ironside will air one more episode next Wednesday before falling off the schedule. Beginning October 30, repeats, Dateline and specials will air in Ironside’s 10 PM berth until January 8, when Chicago Fire spinoff Chicago P.D. will debut in the slot that successfully launched the mothership series last season. On Thursdays, NBC will air a mix of back-to-back Parks And Recreation episodes and various specials for the next two months, with veteran Community launching its fifth season on January 2 with back-to-back episodes from 8-9 PM before moving to its old 8 PM slot, with current occupant Parks And Rec sliding to Welcome To The Family‘s 8:30 PM period beginning with the January 9 episode, the show’s 100th. Ironside and Welcome To The Family have been among NBC’s lowest-rated series on the air. In their most recent airings, Ironside logged a 1.1 in 18-49, flat with the previous week and the same as Sean Saves The World, while Welcome To The Family was up a tenth to a 0.9. Here is a rundown of NBC’s plans for the two time periods:
EXCLUSIVE: In a competitive situation with multiple networks chasing, Fox has landed Chasing Skips, an hourlong action-comedy project from Cougar Town executive producer/showrunner Blake McCormick and the series’ co-creator Bill Lawrence. Written by McCormick, Chasing Skips centers on two down-on-their-luck guys in search of a way to improve their lives who decide to enter the world of bounty hunting, despite having no experience and very few skills. Warner Bros TV and Lawrence’s studio-based Doozer are producing, with McCormick, Lawrence and Jeff Ingold executive producing. Chasing Skips stems from a blind script deal McCormick inked with Warner Bros TV through Doozer in May in conjunction with his appointment as new showrunner of Cougar Town for its upcoming fifth season.
EXCLUSIVE: In a competitive situation with multiple networks bidding, CBS has nabbed a multi-camera family comedy from comedy veterans Jeff Astrof (Grounded For Life) and Scrubs and Cougar Town creator Bill Lawrence with a put pilot commitment. Written by Astrof, Middlescence centers on a married couple that struggles to raise four adolescents: their two kids, her older brother and his mother. Warner Bros. TV and Lawrence’s studio-based Doozer Prods. are producing, with Astrof and Doozer’s Lawrence and Jeff Ingold executive producing. The family comedy stems from Astrof’s relationship with Lawrence, Doozer and Warners on the upcoming TBS comedy Ground Floor, co-created/executive produced by Lawrence. In June, Astrof, repped by ICM Partners and Michael Gendler, was brought in as executive producer/showrunner of the series in a deal that also included a two-script development deal with Warner Bros. TV. This marks the first sale this season for ICM-repped Doozer, which has four series on the air, returning Cougar Town on TBS and upcoming Ground Floor on TBS, Surviving Jack on Fox and Undateable on NBC.
Matthew Vafiadis and Jennifer Danska have joined Relativity Television‘s Ellen Rakieten Entertainment as SVP Development. Both will report directly to Ellen Rakieten. Vafiadis previously served as Development and Current Executive at BBC Worldwide & Adjacent Productions, where he managed the sales of series, specials, original formats and UK reformats. While at BBC he executive produced What Not To Wear (TLC) and developed and executive produced Breaking Pointe (CW) and Big Brooklyn Style (TLC). Danska previously served as SVP of Development and Current at Kinetic Entertainment. There she executive produced Perez Hilton All-Access (CW/ITV2), and worked on such shows as Betty White’s Off Their Rockers (NBC) and You Deserve It (ABC).
EXCLUSIVE: Briga Heelan is making a return to NBC/Warner Bros.’s midseason series Undateable, re-joining the Bill Lawrence comedy as a recurring. She will reprise the role of Nicki she played in the pilot as a guest star. The bromantic comedy centers on Danny (Chris D’Elia) and Justin (Brent Morin) — two very different guys who are bonded by their common inability to attract women. Heelan first came into the Lawrence/Warner Bros. family in March when she was cast as the female lead in the TBS comedy pilot Ground Floor. A month later, she was brought in as a last-minute replacement of originally cast series regular Aly Michalka in the Undateable pilot. Because of her commitment to Ground Floor, Heelan did the NBC pilot as a guest star. Then on May 10, within a few hours both Ground Floor and Undateable were picked up to series. Lawrence wanted Heelan for both shows, and the studio tried to make things work but ultimately the verdict was that the dates could not be worked out, and Megan Park was cast in the Nicki role as a new regular. But meanwhile, the schedules for Ground Floor and Undateable were synched up enough for Heelan to be able to do the NBC comedy on a recurring basis without interfering with her starring duties on the TBS sitcom. (Both comedies are multi-camera, which require fewer production days than single-camera shows.) …
EXCLUSIVE: The Secret Life Of The American Teenager co-star Megan Park has been cast as a regular on NBC’s midseason multi-camera comedy series Undateable, from Warner Bros. TV and Bill Lawrence’s Doozer Prods. The bromantic comedy centers on Danny (Chris D’Elia) and Justin (Brent Morin) — two very different guys who are bonded by their common inability to attract women. Park will play Nicki, the eternally optimistic young waitress who is a recent transplant to Detroit from a small town in the Upper Peninsula. She’s treated like a little sister by all the regulars at Justin’s bar, but Justin secretly has feelings for her. The role has been vacant since originally cast Aly Michalka exited before the taping of the pilot. Briga Heelan, stepped in at the last minute to play the role in the pilot as a guest star as she was the female lead in Lawrence’s TBS comedy pilot Ground Floor, which was picked up to series the same day as Undateable, making her unavailable to continue on the NBC show. This is one of two regular roles on Undateable that have been recast. In the other one, David Flynn replaced Matthew Wilkas. Park is with Paradigm and Joannie Burstein.
David Fynn has landed a regular role on NBC’s midseason comedy Undateable, from executive producer Bill Lawrence and Warner Bros TV. The bromantic comedy centers on Danny (Chris D’Elia) and Justin (Brent Morin) — two very different guys who are bonded by their common inability to attract women. Flynn, repped by Luber Roklin, Gersh and Shepherd Management in the UK, will play Brett, Justin’s gay and prohibitively picky undateable friend who always finds something wrong with a guy. He replaces Matthew Wilkas, who plated the role in the pilot. This is one of two re-castings on Undateable after it was picked up to series. The series also is looking for an actress to replace Briga Heelan, who co-starred in the pilot as a guest star as she had already been cast as the female lead in the TBS pilot Ground Floor, which went to series.
EXCLUSIVE: Comedy veteran Jeff Astrof (Grounded For Life) has been tapped as executive producer/showrunner of TBS’ new comedy series Ground Floor, from Bill Lawrence’s Doozer and Warner Horizon. Additionally, Astrof has signed a two-script development deal with Warner Bros. TV. Ground Floor, which Cougar Town co-creator Lawrence wrote with Greg Malins, is a workplace comedy with a romantic twist that stars Skylar Astin, Briga Heelan and John C. McGinley. Astrof will serve as executive producer alongside Lawrence and Jeff Ingold. The project, which received a 10-episode series order last month, has been looking for a showrunner as Lawrence also landed two new series on the broadcast networks for next season, Undateable on NBC and Surviving Jack on Fox. Astrof, repped by ICM Partners and Michael Gendler, most recently wrote and executive produced the multi-camera version of John Leguizamo’s family comedy pilot King John, which was shot and was in serious contention for a series pickup. Last season, he also sold multi-camera comedy project Fat, Forty And Fired to ABC with a put pilot commitment.
There will be some recasting on NBC’s newly picked up multi-camera comedy series Undateable, from Warner Bros. TV and Bill Lawrence’s Doozer Prods. The bromantic comedy centers on Danny (Chris D’Elia) and Justin (Brent Morin) — two very different guys who are bonded by their common inability to attract women. One of the recastings was expected. It involves Briga Heelan, who stepped in at the last minute to replace originally cast Aly Michalka. Heelan plays the female lead in Lawrence’s TBS comedy Ground Floor, which was picked up to series the same day as Undateable. Her casting as a guest star on Undateable stemmed from her relationship with Lawrence and Warners on Ground Floor. There was an effort to find a way for her to do both series but that proved impossible, so the role on Undateable, Maddie, a waitress in Justin’s (Morin) bar who is endlessly attracted to jerks and bad pickup lines, will now be recast. Also leaving the project is Matthew Wilkas, who played Brett, Justin’s gay and prohibitively picky undateable friend who always finds something wrong with a guy.
2013-14 NBC New Series
About A Boy – Based on the best-selling Nick Hornby (“High Fidelity,” “An Education”) novel, writer Jason Katims (“Friday Night Lights,” “Parenthood”) and director Jon Favreau (“Iron Man,” “Revolution”) present a different kind of coming-of-age story. Will Freeman (David Walton, “Bent,” “Perfect Couples”) lives a charmed existence as the ultimate man-child. After writing a hit song, he was granted a life of free time, free love and freedom from financial woes. He’s single, unemployed and loving it. So imagine his surprise when Fiona (Minnie Driver, “Good Will Hunting,” “Barney’s Version”), a needy single mom and her oddly charming 11-year-old son, Marcus (Benjamin Stockham, “1600 Penn”), move in next door and disrupt his perfect world. When Marcus begins dropping by his home unannounced, Will’s not so sure about being a kid’s new best friend, until, of course, Will discovers that women find single dads irresistible. That changes everything and a deal is struck: Marcus will pretend to be Will’s son and, in return, Marcus is allowed to chill at Will’s house. Before he realizes it, Will starts to enjoy the visits and even finds himself looking out for the kid. In fact, this newfound friendship may very well teach him a thing or two that he never imagined possible — about himself and caring for others. Writer Jason Katims, director Jon Favreau, Tim Bevan (“Les Misérables,” “About a Boy”), Eric Fellner (“Les Misérables,” “About a Boy”), Liza Chasin (“Les Misérables,” “About …
As movie sequels dominate the box office with more than 30 slated this year alone, including Iron Man 3, Star Trek 2 and Hangover 3, television too is increasingly relying on expanding TV franchises. In a symbolic move, as the last CSI spinoff, CSI: NY, bowed out this season, a record three new spinoff series are joining the broadcast schedule for next season: The Once Upon A Time spinoff Once Upon A Time In Wonderland, The Vampire Diaries offshoot The Originals on the CW, and Chicago Fire‘s Chicago PD on NBC. They will join returning spinoffs NCIS: LA and Law & Order: SVU. Of the four spinoff projects that were in consideration for next season, only one, CBS’ NCIS: Red, didn’t get a series pickup. “Sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t,” CBS entertainment president Nina Tassler said last week about the decision. “Protecting (the NCIS franchise) was really important.” She indicated that the network is open to trying the spinoff again. Indeed, I hear there is talk about revisiting NCIS: Red with a new cast.
Once a staple in comedy with All In The Family, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Cosby Show, Cheers and Family Guy among the slew of hit series to launch spinoffs, offshoots are primarily limited to drama these days. NBC tried …
First off, congratulations to all writers, producers, actors and agents who landed new series this week. I know it wasn’t easy. Here is Deadline’s annual list of those who excelled at the upfronts. I tried to be inclusive, but if I’ve missed anyone who’s had a banner week, let me know. I’ve also compiled a list of pods and independent producers with multiple broadcast series.
Cougar Town co-creator Bill Lawrence and his Doozer banner had three new series unveiled at the upfronts this week: comedies Undateable on NBC, Surviving Jack on Fox and Ground Floor on TBS. Also, TBS recently renewed Cougar Town for a fifth season.
J.J. Abrams‘ Bad Robot claimed one of the top new drama series last season with NBC’s Revolution and one of the hottest sophomore shows with CBS’ Person Of Interest. The company is keeping the momentum with two new series orders for next season: Almost Human at Fox and Believe at NBC.
Independent producer Aaron Kaplan of Kapital Entertainment received two new series orders from the broadcast networks: Back In The Game at ABC and Friends With Better Lives at CBS. Additionally, his freshman ABC comedy The Neighbors was renewed and his ABC pilot Bad Management is in serious contention for a series pickup. Kaplan also received two cable series orders in the past month, for Chasing Life on ABC Family and Instant Mom on NickMom, and also has comedy series Wendell & Vinnie on Nick at Nite and pilot HR at Lifetime.
Writer-producer Julie Plec also landed two new series this week, both at the CW: She wrote/executive produces the planted Vampire Diaries spinoff The Originals and executive produces The Tomorrow People. Additionally, she executive produces TVD, giving her three series on the air next season. (Fellow Tomorrow People executive producer Greg Berlanti has two, including returning CW hit Arrow.)
NBC’s 2013-14 Schedule: ‘Revolution’ Moves To Wednesday, ‘Parenthood’ To Thursday, ‘Blacklist’ Gets Post ‘Voice’ Slot
Family comedies and action dramas dominate NBC‘s new series additions for next season. NBC is introducing six series in the fall — comedies Welcome to the Family, Sean Saves the World, and The Michael J. Fox Show; and dramas The Blacklist, Ironside and Dracula; with five more set for midseason– comedies The Family Guide and About A Boy, and dramas Believe, Crisis and Crossbones. (Dracula and Crossbones were carried over from last upfront/off-season). Not scheduled yet are newly picked up dramas Chicago PD and The Night Shift and comedy Undateable as well as last-minute renewal Community. On the returning series side, missing from the announcement are long-time reality staple Celebrity Apprentice and well reviewed freshman drama Hannibal as NBC is yet to make a pickup decision on both. Here is NBC’s fall and midseason schedules with analysis and new series descriptions underneath. As expected, the network is spreading its launches between the fall and spring, tied to its Winter Olympics coverage:
NBC FALL 2013-14 SCHEDULE
(New programs in UPPER CASE; all times ET)
8-10 p.m. – “The Voice”
10-11 p.m. – “THE BLACKLIST”
8-9 p.m. – “The Biggest Loser” (New Day and Time)
9-10 p.m. – “The Voice” (New time)
10-11 p.m. – “Chicago Fire” (New Day and Time)
8-9 p.m. – “Revolution” (New Day and Time)
9-10 p.m. – ”Law & Order: SVU”
10-11 p.m. – “IRONSIDE”
8-8:30 p.m. – “Parks and Recreation” (New time)
8:30-9 p.m. – “WELCOME TO THE FAMILY”
9-9:30 p.m. – “SEAN SAVES THE WORLD”
9:30-10 p.m. – “THE MICHAEL J. FOX SHOW”
10-11 p.m. – “Parenthood” (New Day and Time)
8-9 p.m. – “Dateline NBC”
9-10 p.m. – “Grimm”
10-11 p.m. – “DRACULA”
7:00-8:15 p.m. – “Football Night in America”
8:15-11:30 p.m. – “NBC Sunday Night Football”
NBC faces the task of scheduling six new comedies for next season with only two returning half-hour series: Community, which received an eleventh-hour 13-episode renewal, and Parks & Recreation. The network may just have the right man for the job. This is head of scheduling Jeff Bader‘s first turn at bat after moving to NBC last summer. As a long-time scheduling topper at ABC, he was presented with a similar challenge four years ago when the network picked up five new comedy series and returned two. Like Parks & Rec and Community, those two returning comedies, Scrubs and Better Off Ted, were quirky cult shows and not anchors that could launch new series. What Bader and ABC brass did back then was let Scrubs and Ted be, pairing them together for what became both series’ final season. Then they took four new comedies and launched a new two-hour comedy block on Wednesday. It worked – three of the four comedies are still on the air: Modern Family and The Middle on ABC and Cougar Town on TBS. (The fourth, Hank, was quickly cancelled.)
Bader may take a similar approach at NBC. Like at ABC in 2009, the two returning NBC comedies are workplace, while most of the new series are family or family-esque (Michael J. Fox, Welcome To The Family, The Family Guide, Sean Saves The World, About A Boy). Coincidentally, the last new comedy series this year, Undateable, is a multi-camera show about dating, which was also the case at ABC in 2009 with Romantically Challenged, which was scheduled behind Dancing With The Stars.
Clues had been coming in for the past couple of weeks. After last fall failed to produce a single breakout new comedy series, the networks stepped up their comedy development efforts. That resulted in a glut of hot comedy pilots that made network executives giddy. It was clear that, with the nets fawning over their comedy development, they would likely bet heavily on new half-hour series. But they went further — an almost complete redo of last season on the comedy side, as if it never happened. Out of 16 new comedies picked up last May, only one, Fox‘s The Mindy Project, has been renewed. Another one, ABC‘s The Neighbors, is expected to join it after a deal is completed. Compare that to 7 freshman half-hour series who made it to Year 2 last May.
So far, 19 new comedy series have been picked up for next season by the broadcast networks. One to two more will likely be added by Monday, with NBC‘s Craig Robinson and CBS‘ Friends with Better Lives among those talked about. (Fox’s To My Assistant and NBC’s Assistance also have a shot down the road after possible retool.) Not surprisingly, NBC leads the pack with 6 half-hour series already ordered. With The Office leaving, NBC pretty much wiped the slate clean, only bringing back Parks & …