BUBBLE WATCH 2014: Freshman ABC Comedy ‘Mixology’ Heating Up For Renewal

By | Friday April 18, 2014 @ 5:22pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Mixology Season 2 Renewal ChancesIt has been a three-way race for renewal among three bubble ABC comedies: sophomore The Neighbors and freshmen Trophy Wife and Mixology, There seems to be some movement within the pack, with the youngest, midseason entry Mixology, gaining momentum. I hear the network and the studio already have put in place a leadership plan for next season, with creators Jon Lucas and Scott Moore set to take over the reins as showrunners from Ira Ungerleider, who will be leaving after running the series for its original 13-episode order. What’s more, in a sign of confidence to Lucas & Moore and their lucasmooreshow, I hear ABC Studios is in negotiations with the duo for an overall deal. At the same time last year, ABC Studios inked an overall deal with Dan Fogelman, with his freshman comedy The Neighbors going on to clinch the only comedy renewal for ABC Studios a few weeks later. Mixology – set in a bar over the course of one night — quickly built a core fan base and has supporters at ABC, including network topper Paul Lee. Its ratings have been lackluster at best, but so have been the numbers for Trophy Wife and The Neighbors. Relaunching a heavily serialized comedy in the fall four months after a brief midseason run would be a challenge, though I hear the story might be reset for Season 2.

Related: Bubble Watch 2014: Where Endangered Broadcast Series Stand

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Michelle Obama Books Cameo In Military-Themed ‘Nashville’ Episode

By | Friday April 18, 2014 @ 1:14pm PDT

obamamichelle__130219150049First Lady Michelle Obama will play herself in a cameo appearance on ABC‘s country music drama Nashville on May 7, an episode titled “All Or Nothing With Me” that is set at the Fort Campbell Army base. This comes a couple months after she was set for a cameo on the season finale of Parks And Recreation on April 24, that appearance to promote her “Let’s Move” program targeting child obesity.

Aside from numerous late-night appearances and docu-series, Obama has appeared in only a couple  scripted series including Sesame Street in 2009 and in a cameo on Nickelodeon’s iCarly in 2012. Michelle Obama Appears On The Set Of "iCarly"Obama taped the iCarly appearance in June 2011 while in LA to promote a series of PSAs targeting her “Joining Forces” initiative, designed to raise awareness of military families; iCarly‘s lead character was the daughter of a U.S. service member stationed overseas. That plan was unveiled at the WGA Theatre during a panel sponsored by the Hollywood guilds (and moderated by JJ Abrams) designed to create a dialogue among film and TV folks about ways to share those families’ stories. The Nashville appearance would seem to jibe with that initiative: ABC says the episode’s storyline involves Reyna (Connie Britton) organizing of a charity concert on the Army base after finding out Luke (Will Chase) has been injured in Afghanistan, cutting short his tour. Read More »

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‘Scandal’: Shonda Rhimes Whips Up Spoiler Storm With Season Finale

By | Thursday April 17, 2014 @ 8:08pm PDT

MAJOR SPOILER ALERT: This story contains many details of Thursday’s season finale episode of ABC’s Scandal.

TONY GOLDWYN, SCOTT FOLEY, KERRY WASHINGTONABC’s D.C. drama, created by Shonda Rhimes, has grabbed big ratings over three seasons with a potent mix of wild plot twists and savvy use of social media. In another signature Shonda shocker, Washington fixer Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) tonight watched POTUS Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn) become a virtual certainty to lose his re-election bid when a bomb intended for him goes off at the funeral of a U.S. senator who’d been assassinated by Olivia’s terrorist mom Maya Lewis (Khandi Alexander) in order to get Grant at the funeral, only POTUS isn’t there. But his chief presidential-race rival — and VPOTUS –  Sally Langston (Kate Burton) was there, and survived, and becomes simultaneous ministering angel and Irony Lady at the scene of the blast. President Grant’s day gets considerably worse when he suggests to Olivia that they run away together, marry, move to Vermont and have babies, causing Olivia to have pangs of conscience and spill the beans that Grant’s dad had raped his wife, First Lady Mellie Grant (Bellamy Young), years ago. Read More »

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ABC Pulls Promos For New Series ‘Black Box’ Featuring Bryan Singer’s Name Amid Controversy

By | Thursday April 17, 2014 @ 4:50pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

With Hollywood director Bryan Singer at the center of accusations ofblackbox molesting a minor 15 years ago, his name will not be used to promote new ABC drama series Black Box. A small portion of the promos in … Read More »

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How Social Media Helps Drive ABC’s ‘Scandal’

By | Thursday April 17, 2014 @ 4:12pm PDT

ABP-8201 Scandal KeyArt.inddABC‘s D.C. fixer drama Scandal has built big ratings in three seasons with a potent mix of often ridiculous plot twists and creator Shonda Rhimes’ savvy use of social media, which has bound fans closely to the show and its stars. That combo has paid off: Ahead of tonight’s season finale, which is certain to feature another signature shocker, Scandal has added 3 million viewers (for 11.5 million total). It’s up even more in the key adults 18-49 demo, +43% compared with last season, according to Nielsen. That demographic also represents most of the heaviest social-media users and is fervently sought by marketers.

Related: ‘Scandal’: Shonda Rhimes Does It Again With Season Finale

Scandal table with red borderScandal‘s OMG moments, and the chance to feverishly chat about them online as they happen, have glued fans to the show’s actual broadcasts, instead of waiting to watch an episode later on DVR, VOD or Hulu. To further stick fans to their TV-side seats, Rhimes and other show principals including star Kerry Washington also take part, tweeting and posting with fans before, during and after airings. That close connection has been a crucial part of the show’s growth. According to RelishMIX, the social-media analytics firm, followings for those show-connected accounts have exploded — led by Washington’s Facebook account, which jumped an eye-popping 466% in Season 3. That comes after an offseason filled with awards appearances that really fueled the show’s social-media growth. In fact, says RelishMIX CEO Marc Karzen, the biggest growth in Washington’s Facebook account happened in and around her (very pregnant) appearances at the Golden Globes and SAG Awards. Those red carpet photos set fans abuzz for days.

Related: ‘Scandal’ Among Peabody Award Winners

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Bret Harrison, Aaron McCusker Join ABC’s ‘The Astronaut Wives Club’; Daniel London In WGN’s ‘Manhattan’

By | Thursday April 17, 2014 @ 12:14pm PDT

UPDATED: Bret Harrison aaron2bretharrison1(Orange County) and Aaron McCusker (Shameless, Dexter) have been cast as series regulars in ABC’s 10-episode drama series The Astronaut Wives Club, from Fake Empire, Groundswell Productions and ABC Studios, eyed for 2015. Written by Stephanie Savage based on Lily Koppel’s book and directed by Nick Cassavetes, it tells the real story of the women who stood beside some of the biggest heroes in American history during the height of the space race. Harrison will play Gordon “Gordo” Cooper, one of the original astronauts. His wandering ways pushed his wife, Trudy, to the brink of divorce, but he’s convinced her to come back so he can have his shot at space. McCusker, repped by UK’s Curtis Brown and Kritzer Levine Wilkins Griffin Nilon Entertainment, will play Wally Schirra, another one of the original astronauts who’s also a prankster.
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ABC President Paul Lee Signs New Contract

By | Tuesday April 15, 2014 @ 9:31am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

paulleeABC Entertainment Group president Paul Lee has finalized a new multi-year deal to remain at the helm of the broadcast network and its sibling ABC Studios. With ABC News president Ben Sherwood recently tapped to succeed Anne Read More »

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Director Michael Fresco Re-Ups Deal With ABC Studios

By | Tuesday April 15, 2014 @ 7:00am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

ABC Studios and ABC have inked a third consecutive deal with director-producer Michael Fresco for him to direct and executive produce a pilot next year. Fresco just completed ABC/ABC Studios’ Jeff Lowell pilot and previously has helmed the pilots for Fox’s Raising Hope and ABC’s Better Read More »

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Dominique McElligott To Star In ABC’s ‘The Astronaut Wives Club’

By | Monday April 14, 2014 @ 10:30am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

ncelligottHell On Wheels alumna Dominique McElligott is set for a starring role in ABC’s 10-episode drama series The Astronaut Wives Club, from Fake Empire, Groundswell Productions and ABC Studios. Written by Stephanie Savage based on Lily Koppel’s … Read More »

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PILOTS 2014: Early Buzz Edition

By | Saturday April 12, 2014 @ 1:52pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

panic-buttonWith less than a month until the upfronts, we’re kicking off our annual Pilot Buzz series. As usual, the first edition only includes a limited number of projects that have been garnering early attention as many pilots are still filming. So, if a pilot is not mentioned, it probably means it is too early to weigh in or the feedback I’ve received is inconclusive at this time.

ABC_logo_2007Shonda Rhimes. Viola Davis. Need we say more? ABC’s sexy suspense legal thriller How To Get Away With Murder, executive produced by Rhimes and starring Davis, is packing some heat early on. Secret & Lies starring Ryan Phillippe also is getting encouraging early response. It also has a seven-figure penalty and is directed by Charles McDougall, whose strong pilot record includes Desperate Housewives, The Good Wife and most recently, Resurrection last season. Then there is Marvel’s stealth Agent Carter project. Last year, the company went into Fort Knox mode on its Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot, which was kept under lock and key. They took that a notch further this year with carterAgent Carter. Because there is a prototype — the project is inspired by a one shot, which was featured on the Blu-ray release of Iron Man 3word has been that it would forgo a pilot and go straight to series. The script was finished more than three months ago (“the script is great,” ABC’s Paul Lee said back in January), the option on one-shot’s star Hayley Atwell came up and was extended, but the green light never came. Now there is talk that a pickup for Agent Carter may come along with a renewal for Marvel’s freshman Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., with the new series possibly serving as a bridge between the fall and spring portions of S.H.I.E.L.D.  Also getting various level of early traction at ABC is mystery Sea of Fire and several dark horses, alien drama The Whispers (aka The Visitors), medical drama The Warriors and mystery Clementine. Read More »

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Jimmy Kimmel To Interview Shonda Rhimes After ‘Scandal’ Finale In Special Edition of ‘JKL’

By | Friday April 11, 2014 @ 11:52am PDT

JimmyKimmelABC‘s Jimmy Kimmel Live will be in repeats all next week — except Thursday, when he will interview Scandal creator Shonda Rhimes from the set of her show in what’s being billed as a Jimmy Kimmel Live: Read More »

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James Goldston Tapped To Be ABC News President

By | Thursday April 10, 2014 @ 5:50am PDT

James GoldstonABC made a pro forma announcement this morning, officially naming ABC News SVP James Goldston to replace Ben Sherwood as president of the news division. Last month, when Sherwood was promoted to co-chairman of Disney Media Networks and president of Disney/ABC Television Group, following Anne Sweeney’s surprising decision to step down as president of the Disney/ABC Television Group to become a TV director, the list of possible Sherwood replacements read like this:

1) James Goldston

2) James Goldston

3) James Goldston

abc-news110915165209Goldston’s the guy credited with saving Nightline from oblivion, and turning Good Morning America into the franchise that deposed NBC’s Today as king of the morning show ratings — though Goldston already had been upped to Sherwood’s No. 2 guy, and Tom Cibrowski, who’d worked with Goldston on GMA, had been promoted to GMA chief when the program actually went in for the kill. Discussions about Goldston generally include the expression “golden gut” and he is said to be well-liked in the news division. He’s also considered so valuable to the news operation that discussion of Sherwood-replacement plans didn’t seem to include any other names.

Related: Q&A: Incoming Disney/ABC TV Group Co-Chairman Ben Sherwood
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On The Bubble: Where Endangered Broadcast Series Stand

By | Wednesday April 9, 2014 @ 2:25pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

networklogosIt is very difficult for showrunners to wrap production on a season without knowing if their series would get another season. Unfortunately, that is the nature of the network business, and about two dozen shows go though that every year. Here is a look at each network’s comedy and drama series in peril and their odds for survival.

With all the drama carnage at ABC this season (Lucky 7, Betrayal, Killer Women, Mind Games, The Assets), the network is pretty lean on the hourlong side, and all shows currently on the air have a good shot at coming back. agents of shieldThat includes two freshman series, fall drama Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., despite slipping in the ratings, and midseason entry Resurrection. Of returning dramas, there is no doubt about renewals for Shonda Rhimes’ Grey’s Anatomy, especially with stars Ellen Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey signed on, and Scandal, as well as Castle and Once Upon A Time. While it was heavily on the bubble last season, country music drama Nashville appears in a stronger position this spring and looks likely to continue. And, despite its ratings erosion, Revenge remains a signature, upscale drama for ABC that the network also owns. Because of its heavy mythology with a revenge storyline that has been central to the show since the pilot, it is unlikely that ABC would abruptly end the series without giving it a final chapter to wrap things up.

Things are far murkier on the comedy side where there are three shoe-ins, anchors Modern Family and The Middle and freshman The Goldbergs. None of these hail from ABC’s sister studio, and building a steady comedy pipeline at ABC Studios has been important for the overall health of the company. There are three ABC Studios-produced comedy series on ABC at the moment, all on the bubble: freshmen Trophy Wife and Mixology and sophomore The Neighbors. The network will likely renew at least one comedy from its own studio. (Last year, it picked The Neighbors vs. 20th TV’s How To Live With Your Parents.) Of the three, Trophy Wife seems to have the biggest support and is the most promotable, with KATE SIMSES, ADAM CAMPBELLa star cast led by Malin Akerman and Bradley Whitford. But the name cast also makes Trophy Wife the most expensive, and its ratings are pretty soft. The Neighbors, which comes from prominent Disney writer Dan Fogelman, costs way less, and, while only doing so-so on Fridays, it could deliver something ABC Studios has not seen in a while: a third-year comedy. (Fogelman also has comedy pilot Galavant in the running at ABC.) Then there is Mixology, which has not done well behind Modern Family. It stands out with its unusual structure — set in a bar over the course of one night — it has quickly built a core fan base and has supporters at ABC. But relaunching a heavily serialized comedy in the fall four months after a brief midseason run would be a challenge and growing ratings for such a show with a continues storyline would be very difficult. ABC has a recent history of sticking with narrow, quirky relationship comedies like Happy Endings and Don’t Trust the B—- but all were eventually cancelled. 20th TV’s Last Man Standing starring Tim Allen is quietly wrapping its third season. It has done a decent job as a Friday 8 PM anchor and is ABC’s only multi-camera series. With several high-proile multi-camera pilots, the network could use Last Man Standing as a building block. (How about Allen paired with another comedy vet, Henry Winkler of The Winklers?). Read More »

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UPDATE: Barbara Walters Announces Her Exit Date On ‘The View’

By | Monday April 7, 2014 @ 8:30am PDT

Barbara WaltersUPDATED, 8:30 AM: Barbara Walters got a standing ovation on The View this morning as she announced she will make her final regular appearance on the show Friday, May 16. ”Many of you have had to put up with me since your childhood — and, you’re not free of me yet, because I am not leaving television entirely,” Walters warned. “I will continue  in my role as exec producer of The View…which means I can continue to watch [exec producer] Bill Geddie, with whom I have worked for more than 25 years, get older and balder… as I get blonder.” Read More »

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ABC Tweaks Summer Schedule, Slots ‘Sing Your Face Off’ On Saturday

By | Friday April 4, 2014 @ 12:02pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

rookie-blue-abcFollowing the decision to push limited drama series Astronaut Wives Club to midseason, ABC is reshuffling its summer schedule, which was to feature AWC in the Thursday 9 PM slot starting July 24. Rookie Blue, originally slated to premiere on July 17 and air in the Thursday 10 PM slot, paired with AWC, will now slide to 9 PM and start its season a month earlier, on June 19. (Despite the early start, ABC does not plan to expand the cop drama’s fifth season beyond the previously agreed upon 11 episodes of the 22 produced.) New alternative series The Quest will keep its Thursday 8 PM slot but its premiere is being pushed back by two weeks, from July 19 to July 31, with Wife Swap airing in the 8 PM hour on July 19 and 26. There is no replacement yet for Rookie Blue in the Thursday 10 PM slot in late summer. Read More »

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ABC Summer Series ‘Astronaut Wives Club’ Pushed To Midseason, To Undergo Changes

By | Wednesday April 2, 2014 @ 5:11pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

astronaut-wives-clubEXCLUSIVE: There is a change in plans for ABC‘s 10-episode limited series The Astronaut Wives Club. The project, from Fake Empire, Groundswell Productions and ABC Studios, had been actively casting and getting ready to go into production for a July 24 premiere. Now production has been put on hold, and the series will undergo a creative change. It eyes a fall production start for a midseason 2014-15 launch. Written by Stephanie Savage based on Lily Koppel’s 2013 book, Astronaut Wives Club tells the real story of the women who stood beside some of the biggest heroes in American history during the height of the space race. The book profiles ABC_logo_2007dozens of the wives of Mercury, Gemini and Apollo astronauts. Originally, the series was envisioned to cover only the wives of the astronauts from the Mercury missions. Now ABC is expanding the scope to also include the Gemini and Apollo missions. That will involve reconceiving the arc of the season and expanding the current cast. Additionally, because the series involves the portrayal of real people, it has to go through an extensive clearing process, which has to be done after the scripts have been written. Read More »

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‘Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Crossover With ‘Captain America’ Sequel Revealed: Video

SPOILER ALERT: This story contains details of tonight’s episode of Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Captain America CrossoverWe knew S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Agent Sitwell was in the upcoming Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but tonight on ABC’s Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. we learned how he got there. Is this the crossover between the TV series and the about-to-be-released big-screen sequel that Marvel’s been teasing fans about for weeks? Nobody’s talking in secretive Marveland, but in a sense the truth was already out there  – though probably only the hardcore fanboys picked up on it tonight. Amidst all the SAFFRON BURROWS, TITUS WELLIVER, MAX HERNANDEZusual S.H.I.E.L.D. high-tech shenanigans and drama, tonight’s episode, titled “End Of The Beginning,” opened with a number of agents from the superspy org gathering along with the show’s regular team. Among them is Agent Hand, who was on the series earlier in the season; Agent Blake, who was introduced in the direct-to-video Marvel One-Shot Item 47; and the bespectacled Agent Sitwell.

Related: PaleyFest: ‘S.H.I.E.L.D’ Teases ‘Captain America’ Crossover

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Erin Cummings To Star In ABC’s ‘The Astronaut Wives Club’

By | Tuesday April 1, 2014 @ 4:15pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

cummingserinSpartacus: Blood & Sand alumna Erin Cummings has been cast as one of the leads in ABC’s 10-episode summer drama series The Astronaut Wives Club, from Fake Empire, Groundswell Productions and ABC Studios. Written by Stephanie Savage … Read More »

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Danielle Nicolet Joins ‘Good Session’; Natasha Henstridge To Recur On ‘Selfie’; David Paymer In ‘Red Zone’

By | Tuesday April 1, 2014 @ 4:15pm PDT

Danielle Nicolet (Family Tools) hasNicolet1 joined the cast of CBS’ single-camera comedy pilot Good Session. Written by John Hamburg and Matt Miller and directed by Hamburg, the project revolves around a happy couple, Joel (James Roday) and Lindsay, who go to a therapist (Tracey Ullman) to help them decide if they should have a baby but quickly discover they have more to discuss. Nicolet will play Andrea Fisher, the no-nonsense, straight-talking wife of Joel’s best friend Seth (Rich Sommer). Nicolet, repped by Innovative Artists and KLWGN, most recently recurred on BET’s The Game.

Related: 2014 CBS Pilots
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