Here is one problem with the current broadcast comedy series — there are too many “hammock” shows that do respectable business with a strong lead-in but not enough tentpole comedies to hold those comedy tents that are popping up all over the schedule. CBS has that problem with its Monday lineup. 2 Broke Girls, which was red hot airing in the hammock 8:30 PM slot in its first season, was promoted to the 9 PM anchor slot last fall. It gradually lost steam. Its decline was accelerated this fall to a point where CBS decided to put the show back at 8:30 PM for much needed rehab. The move has worked well for 2 Broke Girls, which immediately rebounded. Last night, it inched up another tenth to a 2.7 in adults 18-49, only a tenth from its season high posted by the September opener. That despite its lead-in, How I Met Your Mother (3.1), being down 9% week to week. It still was CBS’ highest rated program of the night. Therein lies the problem. Another comedy, which has done perfectly fine as a “hammock” show at 9:30 PM, Mike & Molly, was assigned the 9 PM slot. In its season premiere last week, Mike & Molly logged its lowest-rated opener but still held onto its 2 Broke Girls lead-in. Last night, the comedy starring Melissa McCarthy (2.2) fell 15% from last Monday’s debut and 19% from its lead-in. The ratings slide continued with Mom (1.9, down 5% to tie its lowest fast national to date) and Hostages (1.1, flat and tied for series low).
The Mindy Project showrunner appears to be fed up with notes from the Fox Decency Police, and has tweeted one such memo — presumably to embarrass the division. In its pre-shoot memo about one of the comedy’s episodes, The Fox Decency Police made these requests:
Page 13: Please substitute for Peter’s “balls” reference.
Page 28 Please substitute for Mindy’s “penis” reference.
Please substitute for Mindy’s “69″ reference.
Decency Police and their “We’ll trade you one penis for two vaginas” memos are always good for a laugh on a slow day, which may explain why today The Reporters Who Cover Television glommed on to showrunner Matt Warburton‘s tweet of several days ago (you know how it is: TV critic re-tweets it, Defamer posts it, more media pick it up). In the Twitter post, he took a photo of the memo and added, “The Mindy Project is a classy show for grown ups”, like he meant it to sting. And yet, ask someone attached to the show’s production or broadcast why it’s still on the air with the numbers it’s getting these days and you probably ARE going to get an earful of “Mindy is a very upscale show, with a 142 index in the demo in $100K+ homes, ranking No. 9 among major broadcast network shows in this category, and the highest indexing of any Fox entertainment series.”
Still, you can’t help but feel for Warburton. His series is getting clobbered by NBC’s The Voice in its time slot (last season NBC had little-watched comedies Go On and The New Normal in the second hour of primetime on the night).
Anthony D’Alessandro is Managing Editor of AwardsLine.
After stealing comedic thunder from the goddesses in her 2000 debut as the foul-mouthed Jewish princess Jenny Brier in Sex And The City, Kat Dennings made an impression on the show’s creator, Michael Patrick King. So when King offered Dennings a shot at playing a free-spirited New York waitress in the CBS series 2 Broke Girls, which he co-created with Whitney Cummings, choosing between film or TV was a little easier for the actress. Kind of a Laverne & Shirley for the millennial set, the series finds Dennings is right at home as Max Black, delivering one-liners in the style of Bea Arthur, Megan Mullally or even Fran Drescher. In fact, since her early teens—and without any acting lessons—Dennings has vamped and deadpanned, a natural talent that’s given her the opportunity to work with director Judd Apatow on The 40-Year-Old Virgin and play a supporting comic-relief role in Marvel’s Thor franchise.
Related: EMMYS: Comedy Series Overview
Ross Lincoln is a Deadline contributor.
Fans learned that Max Black’s mother might never make an appearance, while Garrett Morris and Jennifer Coolidge proved their improv skills haven’t been diluted by the relative comfort of …
UPDATE: TBS Lands ’2 Broke Girls’ Off-Net Rights For Record $1.7 Million; CBS Stations Pick Up ’2 Broke Girls’ And ‘Mike & Molly’
UPDATED: A week after the deadline for bids on Warner Bros. comedy series 2 Broke Girls, the hot CBS freshman has found a buyer in TBS in a deal that sources said is setting a new cable record for an off-network sale. I hear the license fee is a record-setting $1.7 million per episode, eclipsing the previous record of $1.5 million an episode set by The Big Bang Theory, which also went to TBS. (Modern Family was sold for close to that to USA in 2010.) Additionally, CBS TV Stations has acquired both 2 Broke Girls and the other comedy series Warner Bros has been shopping, sophomore Mike & Molly, for debuts in 2015 and 2014, respectively. Final cable bids for Mike & Molly are due tonight, with a sale expected next week. Warner Bros. TV Distribution took out 2 Broke Girls and Mike & Molly early in part to secure station sales before another multi-camera sitcom, Charlie Sheen’s Anger Management, hits the marketplace. The latter has been aggressively promoting its availability to stations in face of competition from 2 Broke Girls and Mike & Molly.
The high price for 2 Broke Girls at TBS stems from the scarcity of marquee multi-camera sitcoms for basic cable networks to acquire. TBS, a sibling of Warner Bros, is riding high on the ratings success of another young-skewing CBS/Warner Bros off-network comedy acquisition, The Big Bang Theory, the No. 1 sitcom on basic cable, and word is the network was very aggressive in pursuing 2 Broke Girls, which was put on the market after only one season. It will join TBS’ lineup in 2015. “When 2 Broke Girls premiered last fall, it immediately found its audience and appeared to us to be a perfect fit for TBS,” said TNT and TBS programming head Michael Wright. “We believe 2 Broke Girls is poised to enjoy a long, successful run, and we look forward to adding it to the TBS lineup.”
Multicamera sitcoms hit a milestone last month when two freshmen, NBC’s Whitney and ABC’s Last Man Standing, were renewed for a second season. It marked the first time a freshman multicamera comedy on a broadcast network other than CBS has made it to Season 2 in five years, since ‘Til Death was awarded a second season on Fox in 2007. Overall, three freshman multicamera comedies, including CBS breakout 2 Broke Girls, went to a second the season, the most in a decade. But despite that major achievement, multicamera comedies lost ground as the single-camera/multicamera divide between CBS and the rest of the broadcast networks deepened this upfront.
ABC, NBC and Fox ordered a combined 14 new comedy series this year, the same as last year, but the number of multicamera comedies dropped by more than half. Of the 14, 5 or 36% were multicamera last year. This time, the number has fallen to two, or 14% — ABC’s Malibu Country and NBC’s Guys With Kids. Fox will have no multicamera series on the air next season, while ABC and NBC will have two each, Malibu Country and Last Man Standing (ABC) and Whitney and Guys With Kids (NBC). In a sign of the hard time the multicamera format has had outside CBS, when ABC recently decided to re-pilot CBS’ Rebel Wilson comedy pilot Super Fun Night, it opted to convert it from multi- to single camera.
Every year, CBS goes for a couple of major scheduling moves in anchor slots. This year, it is 2 Broke Girls moving to the tentpole Monday 9 PM position after breaking out at 8:30 PM this season. After seven seasons in the Monday 9 PM slot, Two And A Half Men is moving to the Thursday 8:30 slot behind The Big Bang Theory. That is a role-reversal for the two comedies as Big Bang grew into a hit behind Men on Monday. The 2 Broke Girls move reflects CBS’ strategy to support “shows that have momentum, trying to catch them on the way up,” CBS’ scheduling guru Kelly Kahl said at the network’s press breakfast. As for sending Men to Thursday, “we’ve created a super comedy hour,” Kahl said. Men was brought over because the network had difficulty finding a show as broad as Big Bang for the 8:30 PM slot to create flow on the night and help 9 PM drama Person Of Interest grow.
Kahl took a snipe at ABC, NBC and Fox, which all scheduled single-camera comedies in the Tuesday 9 PM hour, calling the pileup “a comedy Sigalert”. “It’s good to have a drama there,” he said of CBS, which is sticking with NCIS: LA in the slot. CBS’ entertainment president Nina Tassler said it was a toss-up decision which CSI spinoff to cancel, which ultimately came down to whose slot the network found more suitable for The Mentalist as it didn’t want to have any of the veteran CSIs change nights again. “It was about keeping the flow, and Miami was the odd man out,” she said. As for veteran comedy Rules Of Engagement, “we’re still discussing it, no decision has been made,” Tassler said.
CBS is introducing four new shows in the fall: comedy Partners and dramas Vegas, Elementary and Made In Jersey. The strategy was “protecting our new shows, with all of them having hits in front of them,” Kahl said. Partners follows How I Met Your Mother on Monday, Vegas is behind NCIS: LA on Tuesday, Elementary behind Person of Interest on Thursday and Made In Jersey behind CSI: NY on Friday.
Here’s the CBS 2012-2013 schedule:
(N=New, NT=New Time)
8 PM HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER
8:30 PM PARTNERS (N)
9 PM 2 BROKE GIRLS (NT)
9:30 PM MIKE & MOLLY
10 PM HAWAII FIVE-0
8 PM NCIS
9 PM NCIS: LOS ANGELES
10 PM VEGAS (N)
Glimpse At CBS’ Fall Schedule? Network Tries Out ‘Mentalist’ On Friday & 8-10 PM Thursday Comedy Block
Every year at this time, CBS‘ scheduling guru Kelly Kahl experiments with moves that, if successful, lead to permanent changes on the network’s fall schedule the following season. When years ago The Big Bang Theory, then a Monday 8:30 PM show, did great when tested behind Two And A Half Men, it was moved there the following year, starting the comedy’s rapid ascent to blockbuster hit status. In January 2010, CBS tried comedy repeats, including Big Bang, in the Thursday 8-9 PM hour — then still occupied by Survivor. While they didn’t pop, the network pushed through with a move of Big Bang to Thursday 8 PM anyway, and it was successful. Most recently last season, CBS tried out Friday’s breakout Blue Bloods in the Wednesday 10 PM slot and the Thursday 10 PM player The Mentalist in the 9 PM Thursday slot. Neither did particularly well in their new berths, and CBS ultimately kept them in their old slots for this season’s schedule.
Now CBS is at it again during the slow time when many shows are in repeats. A new episode of The Mentalist airs tonight at 9 PM. As an older-skewing series (mature women love Simon Baker!), the procedural should be able to fit into CBS’ Friday lineup, paired with Blue Bloods. The experiment doesn’t bode well for the current occupant of the Friday 9 PM slot, CSI: NY, which already had its order cut this season and has been benched for a period of time. Will it be the first of the CSI series to go off the air?
The other CBS scheduling tryout is one that I have been advocating since 2 Broke Girls launched big in the fall and went on to top Two And A Half Men in the demo a couple of times — a two-hour comedy block on Thursday, something the network will pilot April 12. With NBC’s comedy lineup a shadow of its former self from the glory Must See TV days, CBS can expand its comedy invasion on the night, and it has the weapons to do it.
Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
At today’s contentious TCA panel on 2 Broke Girls, creator/executive producer Michael Patrick King defended the comedy against continuing criticism that it traffics in ethnic stereotypes. The heated exchanges left King disappointed by the end of the session, when he said he arrived thinking the panel was going to be fun. As when the show came on the air, the questions mostly centered on Asian character Han Lee (Matthew Moy). “I’m gay. We put in gay stereotypes — I don’t get offended by any of this,” said the producer during the panel with stars Kat Denning and Beth Behrs. “I find it comic to take everybody down.” A questioner weren’t going to let him off that easily, asking if being part of a marginalized group gives one license to stereotype others. King shot back: “I would say it’s about being a comedy writer. It gives you permission to be an outsider and poke fun at what people think about other people.” King bristled at further questions about whether CBS entertainment president Nina Tassler had specifically asked King to “dimensionalize” characters beyond the stereotypes. When pressed, King acknowledged Tassler had used the word “dimensionalize” but said: “The characters are dimensional. And they are seen in segments of 21 minutes; you are limited in the amount of dimension you can see.” To his questioner, he added heatedly: “I will call you in five years” to see if the critic would find the characters fleshed out.” While denying the overuse of ethnic stereotypes, King did say he was proud that after the first three episodes of the series, the Han Lee character has only been the butt of short jokes, not Asian jokes.