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. READ MORE »
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.
Development Season 2013: Fewer Dramas, Bigger (And Overblown) Commitments, Early Orders, Spinoffs, Adaptations & Remakes
Network drama has been on a roll with a string of strong premieres the last two seasons — Revolution, The Following and Arrow last season and The Blacklist, Sleepy Hollow and Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. and The Originals this fall. But the genre will have to rely heavily on the quality vs. quantity principal if its wants to continue its hot streak as the volume is definitely not there for next season. The drama buying got off to a very sluggish start in the summer and never found a higher gear. Drama pitches were down across the board. For instance, I hear NBC took in 280 hourlong pitches, down from 330 last season. It eventually ordered 20-30 fewer drama scripts this year vs. 2012. “It was like Halloween with the networks living on a street where no one came to trick or treat,” one industry insider lamented. “They were open for months but no one was knocking on their doors.” Why was that? Likely because network dramas are not that special any more.
For decades, the broadcast networks were the home of drama series everyone was watching and critics loved. Then in 1999, David E. Kelley almost didn’t go out on stage to receive a best drama series Emmy for his ABC series The Practice. In his defense, he said he “thought they had made a mistake, and that The Sopranos had won.” It hadn’t, and broadcast dramas held their grip on the top a category for four more years until HBO’s mob drama in 2004 became the first cable show ever to win the best series Emmy in a precursor of the tidal shift to come. Cable dramas now have won the top Emmy for the past seven years, with no signs of them letting up, while the U.S. commercial broadcasters were shut out completely from the category the last two years. Right now, working on a cable drama is more prestigious that writing on a broadcast one. With broadcast dramas no longer the syndication cash cows they once were, studios don’t pay a premium for writers to develop such shows anymore. “If they are not getting real money to develop for broadcast, writers may as well do cable for the creative freedom,” one observer noted. Besides the prestige and awards recognition, cable dramas also are becoming more lucrative financially because of services like Netflix where serialized series are a top draw. And let’s not forget that the highest-rated scripted series on television for the past two years is a cable drama, AMC’s The Walking Dead. All that has led to an exodus of broadcast showrunners to cable. The writers room of Emmy-winning first season of Showtime’s Homeland alone featured enough showrunner-level writers to service several broadcast dramas.
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.
Fall Status Report: Solid New Dramas, Soft Comedies, Where Do Networks Stand, Does Tracking Matter, Will NBC Keep Must See TV
Seven weeks into the 2013-14 season, the dust has started to settle, the strongest new shows have been renewed, the biggest duds have been cancelled, and the borderline performers have been getting a mix of both. Some anticipated time slot wars materialized, like the Tuesday 8 PM hour where incumbent NCIS and newcomers Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. and The Originals all have been competitive, and some didn’t, like the hyped Blacklist-Hostages showdown, which turned to be a lopsided match. Which leads us to one of the lessons of this fall, that pre-launch tracking is not that reliable.
Until the very start of the fall season, CBS’ Hostages was tracking on par with NBC’s The Blacklist. But when ratings for premiere night were in, Blacklist more than doubled Hostages‘ demo tally. While boosted by DVR viewing, Hostages never became the breakout hit it was tipped to be.
What has mattered in a big way this fall are lead-ins, even with DVR penetration at 48%. NBC’s Blacklist and hot sophomore drama Chicago Fire have been helped tremendously by The Voice. CBS’ new Thursday comedies The Millers and The Crazy Ones owe their well being (and back orders) to The Big Bang Theory. When Big Bang switched to a repeat, the newbies’ fortunes plunged. (list of all new fall shows with their status after the jump)
On the surface, a whopping nine new comedy series have been given back orders on the Big 4 networks (all but ABC’s Super Fun Night and NBC’s Sean Saves The World have received full-season pickups), along with NBC’s The Michael J. Fox Show, which had a 22-episode order, vs. three new dramas, including the Season 2 pickup for Fox’s Sleepy Hollow. But the three dramas – Blacklist, Sleepy Hollow and Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. — are the freshmen that have shown breakout potential this fall while comedies had another off year. That is not terribly alarming to network brass as some comedy hits have taken time to grow, such as Cheers, Seinfeld and more recently The Office, The Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother. Problem is that we haven’t seen much of that in the past couple of years. Instead, there have been a ton of comedies that started promisingly (like 2 Broke Girls and Suburgatory) and then lost their way or started off soft and never went to another level before the cancellation ae fell on them after 1, 2 or 3 seasons, like ABC’s Happy Endings and Don’t Trust The B—- In Apt 23, NBC’s Whitney and Fox’s Ben & Kate.
There has been an increase in the comedy volume put out by the networks in the past couple of years. That, combined with the lack of half-hour breakouts, has led to many but weakened comedy blocks. We have the most two-hour comedy blocks on the Big 4 — five — in a decade.
White House To Address ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’ Segment After Protest Petition Logs 100,000 Signatures: Video
The White House will weigh in on one of Jimmy Kimmel Live’s Kids Table segments, after a petition protesting that broadcast logged the required 100,000 signatures within 30 days. The petition was started after the October 16 broadcast of the ABC late night show featured Kimmel asking a group of precocious well-dressed kids about this and that, including how to spell Barack Obama. Kids Table segments routinely feature Kimmel getting unscripted responses from kids to issues of the day. Big question of that day: how to repay the $1.3 trillion the U.S. owes China. “Kill everyone in China,” giggled a little boy named Braxton.
The White House says it will comment on 6-year-old Braxton’s comment and the JKL broadcast in an online post. White House petition rules require a petition to collect 100,000 signatures within 30 days – November 18 in this case, in order to merit response. This petition hit that threshold this morning. The White House raised the number of petition signatures required last January, after a petition calling for the deportation of CNN’s British primetime anchor Piers Morgan, and other petitions, very quickly hit the previous 25,000 signature threshold.
“The kids might not know anything better. However, Jimmy Kimmel and ABC’s management are adults. They had a choice not to air this racist program, which promotes racial hatred,” the petition reads. “The program is totally unacceptable and it must be cut. A sincere apology must be issued. It is extremely distasteful and this is the same rhetoric used in Nazi Germany against Jewish people.” ABC did, in fact, issue an apology, and did promise to cut the Kids Table segment from all future plays of that episode of JKL on all platforms. “We would never purposefully broadcast anything to upset the Chinese community, Asian community, anyone of Chinese descent or any community at large…our objective is to entertain,” ABC said in a statement.
EXCLUSIVE: Golden Boys? Three decades after Golden Girls‘ successful 173-episode run on NBC, ABC is developing an ensemble comedy about people in retirement age, this time on the male side. The project, from The Neighbors creator Dan Fogelman and The George Lopez Show co-creator Robert Borden, revolves around three long-lost basketball teammates who reconnect in their 60s and discover they still have a lot to learn about love and friendship. Borden is writing and will executive produce with Fogelman through Fogelman’s Rhode Island Ave. Prods and ABC Studios.
It is good timing for the project, coming on the heels of a weekend where three opening movies featured stars over 60: Fogelman-penned comedy Last Vegas (Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Michael Douglas and Kevin Kline) and dramas Ender’s Game (Harrison Ford) and All Is Lost (Robert Redford). With the baby boomers entering retirement, there is a growing audience for entertainment featuring more mature stars, with such movies showing far stronger legs, like 2007′s The Bucket List, headlined by Freeman and Jack Nicholson, which stayed in theaters for more than months, growing its domestic tally to $93.5 million.
EXCLUSIVE: Producing duo Kelly Ripa and husband Mark Consuelos have teamed with writing duo Andrew Leeds and David Lampson, creators of last season’s pilot Brenda Forever, for another half-hour comedy project with a female protagonist. Poor Pam, which has been set up at ABC through ABC Studios, centers on Poor Pam, that friend everyone feels bad for. Single, unemployed, almost broke, living in the shadow of her famous sister — everyone has it better than Pam. But that doesn’t get her down. Poor Pam always looks on the bright side of life, and she’s always ready to go another round, no matter how many times she gets dropped on her ass. Leeds and Lampson will write the script and executive produce with Ripa and Consuelos. The project was developed internally at Ripa and Consuelos’ Milojo Prods with Albert Bianchini, who oversees the company’s projects.