I hear CBS might be done ordering new series, at least until after its upfront presentation on Wednesday. The network already has picked up five comedy series and three dramas, including two pickups on Sunday, of drama Reckless and comedy …
It isn’t the kind of thing a network exec wants to admit the week before broadcasters open the upfront ad sales season. But the News Corp COO, in a quarterly call with analysts, couldn’t avoid the fact that this season’s ratings declines show “it’s not been a great year for the broadcast business overall from a creative perspective.” Carey says it’s time for networks to “discard a few habits and rules and take some shots. Hopefully next week will be the beginning of that process.” While he didn’t offer specifics, he says one possibility is to “be a bit more targeted [in programming] and invest deeper—take fewer bets and bet deeper.” Carey acknowledged that as digital video becomes more popular “there’s no question there’ll be more and more choices and people will find those choices.” But the exec says he still has faith in broadcasting — as long as it can collect revenues from subscriptions as well as ad sales. He declined to offer more insight into his recent threat to make Fox a pay TV service if the courts jeopardize the dual revenue stream model. Some analysts say that could happen if justices agree that streaming service Aereo can distribute local over-the-air signals without paying broadcasters. “If that dual revenue stream is not available, there are other paths we can pursue,” Carey says. He adds that the “most exciting” opportunity for Hulu is to focus on boosting subscriptions. Broadcasters can add “original and other unique product” and “take advantage of its leadership position in the digital space.”
UPDATED 2011 UPFRONTS SCHEDULE & PARTY LIST
Sunday, May 15
9:00 PM: UTA Upfronts Party
Location: Lavo, 39 E. 58th Street
Monday, May 16
11:00 AM: NBC Announcement (evite ticket)
Location: Hilton Hotel – 3rd Floor, 1335 Avenue of the Americas
Lunch to follow upfront – Location TBD
4:00 PM: FBC Announcement (evite ticket)
Location: The New Beacon Theatre, …
Once again the broadcast upfronts are upon us. With less than a month until the five nets start to unveil their fall plans in New York, it’s time to begin our favorite guessing game of which pilots are likely to make it to series for next season. It is still early and many pilots have yet to be completed or even delivered, but there are some early standouts, like Fox’s comedy The New Girl and ABC’s Don’t Hate The Bitch In Apt. 23. I hear these two have ranked as 20th TV’s highest-testing comedy pilots in 10 years. After a season of no breakout comedy series, the genre might do well next season if strong preliminary pilot buzz is any indication. So here is early intelligence on what looks hot (and not) at the broadcast networks. (If your favorite pilot is not mentioned, it doesn’t mean it’s doomed: it just mean I don’t have enough intel on it yet. Check back for my next Pilot Panic update next week.)
Despite disappointing performance from most of Fox’s new series, especially on the drama side, the network doesn’t have many needs for next season with X Factor launching in the fall, all animated comedies already renewed, plus Raising Hope and Fringe, and midseason comedy Breaking In also in the mix. With two new animated series, Napoleon Dynamite and Allen Gregory, also on tap for 2011-12, and the renewal deals for Bones and House bound to close, there really isn’t much space for new scripted fare. Especially if Human Target gets renewed for a possible pairing with Fringe on Friday. And with the Kiefer Sutherland-Tim Kring pilot Touch, which won’t film until June, looking very likely for a midseason order.
All hail THE NEW GIRL! Great early buzz on Liz Meriwether’s comedy pilot directed by Jake Kasdan and starring Zooey Deschanel as an unlucky-in-love teacher who moves in with three unruly guys. The pilot has been testing through the roof and appears a shoe-in for a series pickup.
The Shawn Levy-directed comedy pilot FAMILY ALBUM is not such a slam-dunk but has a lot going going for it, including stars Mike O’Malley and Rachael Harris, and is considered a solid contender. Also promising, largely because of its star Jaime Pressly, is multicamera comedy pilot I HATE MY TEENAGE DAUGHTER.