EXCLUSIVE: Jennifer Johnson, executive producer/showrunner of Fox’s freshman drama Alcatraz, has signed an overall deal with 20th Century Fox TV after a five-year stint at Warner Bros TV, which produces Alcatraz. 20th TV chairman Dana Walden noted …
Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
During today’s TCA panel on Fox’s midseason time-travel series Alcatraz, executive producer J.J. Abrams was quick to defend November’s decision to tinker with the show’s existing episodes, as well as make a change in creative leadership at the top. Both, he said, were opportunities to improve the series before it went on the air, rather than being indicators of a show in trouble. In early November, the series put filming of new episodes on hold to do reshoots on some of the completed episodes. Then, mid-month, co-creator/executive producer/showrunner Elizabeth Sarnoff departed the series over creative differences, leaving it to be co-run by Jennifer Johnson and Daniel Pyne.
Fox Announces Midseason Sched: ‘Touch’ Gets Monday 9 PM Slot, ‘American Idol’ Paired With ‘Mobbed’ On Wednesdays
Fox today was the last broadcast network to reveal its midseason plans. There were no major surprises. The J.J. Abrams-produced time-travel drama Alcatraz will air in the Monday 9 PM slot as announced at Fox’s upfront in May. As expected, it will share the slot — once occupied by real-time drama 24 – with 24 star Kiefer Sutherland’s new drama series Touch. Alcatraz launches on January 16, Touch on March 19 after a preview on January 25 behind American Idol.
Resurrected comedy Breaking In officially joins Fox’s new two-hour, four-show Tuesday comedy block that will launch March 6, when Glee goes on hiatus before returning with all-original episodes. With pilots Family Album and Little In Common dead, Fox is short a show for the block, so it will air New Girl reruns along with new episodes of New Girl, Raising Hope and Breaking In. The multi-camera I Hate My Teenage Daughter, which premiered after The X Factor last night, is not on the schedule, but Fox says that it will return as originally planned in spring, airing behind a 90-minute Idol performance show. Idol‘s premiere date has been tweaked. The reality competition series was originally going to launch its 11th season behind the NFC Championship game on Jan. 22. Idol will still air after the big game, but as a special. The new season will now start on Jan. 18 with a Wednesday-Thursday premiere. Fox also kept its original scheduling plan for Bones spinoff The Finder intact. It will premiere on January 12 behind a Bones rerun and will air after the Idol results show starting the following week. Bones will return in the spring. New animated series Napoleon Dynamite has been assigned the Sunday 8:30 PM slot currently occupied by Allen Gregory, also per Fox’s original plans. Here is Fox’s midseason schedule with premiere dates:
EXCLUSIVE: Fox’s midseason drama Alcatraz has put filming new episodes on hold to do reshoots on some of the 7 completed episodes. The series will stay in production, doing additional principal photography on previous episodes before proceeding with filming the remaining 6 episodes of the series’ 13-episode order. The J.J. Abrams-produced Alcatraz is an ambitious time-travel drama, and since the show is not on a tight delivery schedule, the producers opted to slow down and make improvements on some of the finished episodes. The reshoots are expected to last 1-2 weeks. Unlike another ambitious midseason drama, NBC’s Awake, which recently shut down production for a couple of weeks to work with scripts, Alcatraz is expected to stay in continuous production, segueing from reshoots to filming new episodes. Here is a recent trailer for the show:
Deadline Comic-Con TV Contributor Gary Hodges reports:
While a studio presence for movies is shaping up to be a little thin at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con (save for notable exceptions like the Cowboys and Aliens premiere and a rumored Steven Spielberg pop-in), the television side of things doesn’t seem bad at all. In fact, it already is looking pretty meaty, promising to keep small-screen aficionados (and this Deadline writer) hustling if they want to see every panel the convention has to offer. The announcements are still rolling in and the official schedule is probably still a couple weeks away, but here are a few of the juicier tidbits about what to expect at the July 21-24 event that we’ve heard so far.
20th Century Fox has announced that it will be promoting at least 13 shows this year with panels, from the familiar (Bones, Family Guy, The Simpsons and Glee, all with their respective casts) to a handful of new offerings. Probably the one garnering the most interest is Terra Nova, the sci-fi drama that boasts Spielberg as an executive producer and a ballsy commitment from Fox, which has already ordered 13 episodes (said to cost about $4 million apiece). The show should find a receptive audience at the convention, as it tells the story of how Earth in the year 2149 is apparently so bad, time-traveling to 85 million years ago to be chased and eaten by expensive CGI dinosaurs is considered an improvement. Another new Fox offering that’s interesting and destined to be fodder for the talking heads is Allen Gregory, an animated series about the titular precocious 7-year-old boy (voiced by Judd Apatow-darling Jonah Hill) and his gay dads. There’s also an animated Napoleon Dynamite series on the way, with the film’s original cast returning to do the voice work, and Awake, a sci-fi drama about a detective (Jason Isaacs) who, after a car accident, finds he can occupy two parallel realities: one where his wife died in the crash, and a second where it was his son who perished. No word yet on which reality has Fox canceling every other new series because they poured all their money into Terra Nova’s gaping prehistoric mouth.
Warner Bros will also be there in force, with a 3,000-square-foot booth on the show floor and 16 shows in their lineup. Most of the shows are old standbys; then again, most are also beloved by the average convention-goer. The Big Bang Theory cast is always welcomed with enthusiasm, making their scheduled appearance a no-brainer. Likewise Chuck, Fringe, Nikita, Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries and curiously apostrophe-free Childrens Hospital all will have no problem finding happy, receptive attendees to fill seats for a chance to glimpse their favorite star in the flesh. As for new fare, the enigmatic drama Alcatraz opens present-day with 302 people — wardens and prisoners — suddenly reappearing in the infamous prison, 50 years after their mysterious disappearance. It also stars Lost alumnus Jorge Garcia as a “hippie geek” Alcatraz expert, a challenging-sounding role that I hope he’s up for. Person of Interest is a sci-fi series about a computer program that predicts future crime victims (sounding a bit like Minority Report, but minus the precognitive crack babies who sit in a bathtub all day) and the former CIA agent (Jim Caviezel) who is tasked with trying to solve the crimes. Lastly, WB will roll out The Secret Circle, a young-adult fantasy-horror-romance series based on the book of the same name. In the series, teenaged Cassie (played by Britt Robertson) discovers she comes from a family of witches. Oh, and love; she also discovers love.
Seven broadcast and one cable series made the cut in the Most Exciting New Series category at the inaugural Critics’ Choice Television Awards. The category, voted by broadcast journalists who have seen the pilots and any available episodes, recognizes shows premiering after June 1, 2011. Some of the most buzzed-about new series, including NBC’s Smash and Fox’s New Girl and Terra Nova, made the list, while others, including CBS’ Person of Interest and 2 Broke Girls and ABC’s Pan Am, didn’t. Here are the honorees (there will be no winner in the category, with all eight shows acknowledged at the awards show June 20):
Alcatraz – Fox – Warner Bros.
Apartment 23 - ABC – 20th Century Fox
Awake – NBC – 20th Century Fox
Falling Skies – TNT – DreamWorks
New Girl – Fox – 20th Century Fox
Ringer - CW – CBS Studios
Smash - NBC – DreamWorks/Universal Media
Terra Nova – Fox – 20th Century Fox
Exactly 20 years ago, German rock band Scorpions released Wind of Change, which became an anthem for our generation of young Eastern Europeans going through a dramatic political change: the fall of communism. Coming back from the broadcast upfront presentations in New York last week, I’ve been having a hard time getting the catchy tune out of my head. While less far-reaching and profound, there is a clear sense of changing of the guard and a new direction for the broadcast networks this year. I can’t remember a time where the majority of the networks had new heads at their upfront presentations. Paul Lee took over for Steve McPherson at ABC, Bob Greenblatt for Jeff Gaspin and Angela Bromstad at NBC, and Mark Pedowitz is succeeding Dawn Ostroff at the CW. There is a similar changing of the guard among the top TV producers this year. Upstart Chernin Entertainment and DreamWorks TV, which is re-entering the broadcast arena, topped the pods with the most new series, three each, with another recently launched company, Aaron Kaplan’s Kapital Entertainment, scoring two new shows. And in its first season, Marty Adelstein and Shawn Levy’s 21 Laps/Adelstein Prods.got one pilot, Tim Allen’s Last Man Standing, picked up to pilot, with another, Fox’s Family Album, in serious contention. Meanwhile, such longtime upfront fixtures as Jerry Bruckheimer TV, Mark Gordon Co. and Wonderland didn’t land any new series for next season.
How many new comedy series with a female lead were picked up last May? Zero. How many have been picked up so far this season? Every single one. All four new comedy series ordered so far by Fox and NBC this season have female leads. That is how many the four broadcast networks combined have on the air this season: NBC’s 30 Rock starring Tina Fey and Parks and Recreation starring Amy Poehler, and ABC’s The Middle starring Patricia Heaton and Cougar Town starring Courteney Cox. Half of those were created by women. All four of the newly picked series come from female creators. While not at 100%, female-centered series are also dominant on the drama side. One of the two new Fox dramas, Alcatraz, has a female lead, Sarah Jones, and was co-written by a female writer, Liz Sarnoff. Of the two NBC drama pickups, one is the female-centered Prime Suspect starring Maria Bello and written by Alexandra Cunningham and the other the female-skewing Smash, which has two leads, one played by Debra Messing. And the two locks at ABC are all about ladies (though penned by male writers), Charlie’s Angels and Good Christian Bitches.
The four newly picked up half-hour series will probably be joined by 3-4 more for a complete domination of the freshman comedy class of 2011 the way ensemble relationship comedies were all the craze last year. What’s more, it looks like as many as three new comedy series are two-female lead shows.
3RD UPDATE: Fox Orders ‘Finder’, ‘Alcatraz’, ‘Daughter’ & ‘New Girl’ To Series, ‘Council’, ‘Locke’, ‘Bellevue’, ‘Outnumbered’ & ‘Iceland’ Dead; ‘Exit’, ‘Album’ & ‘Common’ Still In Play
UPDATE 9 PM: A Locke & Key limited series/miniseries was a stretch, and it seems that it is not happening. The show is now heading to the death pile. And yes, comedy Outnumbered is dead too. Surprisingly, multi-family comedy Little In Common starring Rob Corddry and Kevin Hart, which had …