Becki Newton is set as the lead character in Fox’s six-episode, single-camera ensemble comedy series Weird Loners, written by Michael Weithorn and directed by Jake Kasdan for 20th TV. It tells the story of four relationship-phobic people, three of them played by Newton, Zachary Knighton and Nate Torrence, who are unexpectedly thrust into one another’s lives and form an unlikely bond in a townhouse in Queens, NY. Newton’s Caryn is a high-strung dental hygienist who is a pushover where handsome, charming men are concerned, but who always comes on too strong and fast for any relationship to last. This marks a return to Fox for the always-in-demand Newton who toplined the network’s comedy series The Goodwin Games last season. The Ugly Betty and How I Met Your Mother alumna is with UTA, Management 360 and SMGSB. Weithorn and Kasdan exec produce Weird Loners with Kasdan’s producing partner Melvin Mar.
In what may be the last pilot order this season, Fox has given the green light to Goodwin Games, a single-camera comedy from How I Met Your Mother co-creators/executive producers Carter Bays & Craig Thomas and fellow HIMYM executive producer Chris Harris. The project had been cast-contingent on securing Ugly Betty alumna Becki Newton as one of the leads. After lengthy negotiations, Newton, who fielded several other pilot offers, agreed to board the project, triggering a pilot order. The Goodwin Games, from 20th Century Fox TV where Bays, Thomas and Harris are under deals, revolves around three siblings, one played by Newton, who reconnect after the death of their father. The project extends Newton’s relationship with Bays, Thomas and Harris — she currently recurs on How I Met Your Mother. I hear that the HIMYM stint actually came out of an early exploratory meeting the actress had with Bays and Thomas about Goodwin Games. The project landed at Fox in September with a big put pilot commitment after a bidding war. Newton is with UTA, Management 360 and attorney Rick Genow. Bays and Thomas are with UTA, Harris is with CAA and 3 Arts.
EXCLUSIVE: Becki Newton has signed with UTA. The Ugly Betty standout fielded interest from several major agencies after recently leaving Gersh where she had been a long-time client, ultimately landing at UTA. Following the end of ABC’s Ugly Betty, Newton has been hotly pursued for new comedy series. She recently starred in the NBC anthology hourlong comedy Love Bites and headlined CBS’ comedy pilot Home Grown last year. Newton, who continues to be repped by Management 360, is about to begin filming a high-profile arc on the CBS comedy series How I Met Your Mother.
CBS’ comedy pilot from Jeff and Jackie Filgo has won the Becki Newton sweepstakes. With several pilots vying for the former Ugly Betty co-star, Newton picked the CBS family comedy (formerly Homegrown) as her starring vehicle this pilot season. The pilot is formally in second position to Newton’s NBC series Love Bites, which is yet to be scheduled and has little chance of returning for a second season.
The untitled Filgos project centers on a blue-collar guy who wrestles with how to parent his unmarried grown daughter (Newton) and her 12-year-old son while sharing a house with them as well as his wife and his recently widowed mother. Newton is with Gersh.
In other pilot castings, singer-songwriter-actress Caitlin Crosby has joined NBC’s drama A Mann’s World, starring Don Johnson as a fiftysomething Beverly Hills hairdresser. Crosby, repped by Paradigm and John Carrabino, will play the genius hair colorist at the salon.
It is the end of January, and pilot offers to actors are going out fast and furious. Like every year, there are several actors that attract the lion’s share of offers. In the leading man category, two 40-something actors, Friday Night Lights star Kyle Chandler and Brotherhood alum Jason Isaacs, are red-hot, fielding a half-dozen offers each.
Among the ladies, Ugly Betty alumna Becki Newton is once again in demand despite the fact that her pilot gig could be in second position to her current series, NBC’s midseason dramedy Love Bites whose prospects are dim with a cut-back order and no premiere date set. (Love Bites co-star Greg Grunberg already booked the lead in the A&E pilot Big Mike in first position). Also sitting on multiple offers is Gilmore Girls alumna Krysten Ritter. Casting directors on several projects are also sending out feelers to Christina Applegate, who just gave birth to her first child. Other TV actors lured to return to series TV are Debra Messing, Jason Bateman, James Spader, Daniel Sunjata, Ali Larter, Lizzy Caplan and Katee Sackhoff.
NBC has cut the order to midseason dramedy Love Bites from 13 to 9. The anthology series, originally slated for a fall launch in the Thursday 10 PM slot, was pushed to midseason after a series of setbacks, including the pregnancy of star Becki Newton, the decision by creator/executive producer Cindy Chupack to step down from day-to-day showrunner duties and the exit of Jordana Spiro because of her commitment to TBS’ My Boys. However, word is NBC brass are happy with the episodes they’ve seen and resorted to the order reduction as they’re running out of shelf space for midseason. NBC has 9 new and returning series – 6 scripted and 3 unscripted – on deck for midseason. Love Bites is one of 3, including half-hour comedies Friends with Benefits and The Paul Reiser Show, which are yet to be scheduled.
Former Will & Grace executive producers/showrunners Tracy Poust and Jon Kinnally have inked a two-year overall deal with Universal Media Studios. Under the pact, said to be seven-figure per year, the two have joined new NBC/UMS anthology dramedy series Love Bites as executive producers. They will serve as writing showrunners on the show, working alongside executive producers/non-writing showrunners Shelley McCrory and director Marc Buckland. Poust and Kinnally replace Love Bites creator Cindy Chupack who recently stepped down from day-to-day showrunner duties because of personal matters but continues to write for the show.
Under their overall deal with UMS, Poust and Kinnally, who are friends with Chupack, originally planned to consult on Love Bites while focusing on development. But when approached for the showrunner gig, the duo, who spent the last 4 years on ABC’s Ugly Betty, decided to go for it, segueing to another hourlong dramedy and reuniting with Betty co-star Becki Newton, who is the star of Love Bites. Newton, who recently announced she is pregnant, presents one of the challenges Love Bites currently faces as her character is virgin in the pilot. Another challenge is the pending departure of Jordana Spiro who was to topline the series with Newton but her character will be phased out because of the actress’ commitment to TBS’ My Boys. Newton’s baby news and Chupack’s exit from the helm of the show led to NBC’s decision to pull Love Bites from the fall schedule, …