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ANALYSIS: Lessons Of The Fall & What Lies Ahead For The Big 4 Broadcast Networks

Nellie Andreeva

As broadcast network executives were leaving for their holiday destinations last week, most of them were certainly glad to get away, and not only because of  the dreary wet Los Angeles weather. The broadcast networks had little to cheer about this fall, which failed to produce breakout hits of the size of Modern Family or Glee a year ago. This year, the breakout hits were all on cable: The Walking Dead on AMC and Rizzoli & Isles on TNT, which ranked as the top basic cable series of 2010 among adults 18-49 and total viewers, respectively. The biggest new reality hit was also on cable, MTV’s Jersey Shore, which launched at the very end of 2009. Here are some notes on the fall season, evaluation of the performance of the individual networks and a look ahead at midseason.

- The biggest thing on TV this season has been football, which set ratings records for NBC and ESPN. It dwarfed the entertainment competition not only in live viewing but also in Live+7 where scripted series gain a significant chunk of their viewership.

- It’s nearly impossible to launch a new series at 8 PM. Two of the 3 new 8 PM series, NBC’s Undercovers and ABC’s My Generation, are history, while ABC’s No Ordinary Family was on a ratings decline until moving to 9 PM where its numbers stabilized. NBC’s new reality series School Pride barely registered in the Friday 8 PM slot, raising concern over CBS’ plan to launch new drama Chaos in the slot in midseason.

- Big-name producers don’t guarantee success unless the name is Chuck Lorre. While the Lorre-produced new CBS sitcom Mike & Molly is the highest-rated new series this fall in the 18-49 demo, J.J. Abrams’ Undercovers went bust as did the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced ABC legal drama The Whole Truth, while another Bruckheimer series, Chase, is fading. The jury is still out on Dick Wolf’s Law & Order spinoff Law & Order: Los Angeles, which has had so-so ratings so far. Next up are Shonda Rhimes with ABC’s Off the Map and David E. Kelley with NBC’s Harry’s Law.

- Texas proved the unluckiest setting for new series. Of the four freshman series set and filmed in the Lone Star state, My Generation, Lone Star, The Good Guys and Chase, 3 have been already been canceled and one, Chase, is struggling. Read More »

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CBS Announces Mid-Season Schedule: ‘Mad Love’ To Monday And ‘Chaos’ To Friday

Nellie Andreeva

My colleague Michael Ausiello already scooped CBS’ biggest scheduling change this midseason: freshman cop family drama Blue Bloods will get a four-week trial run in the Wednesday 10 PM slot beginning Jan. 19, while the current occupant of the Wednesday 10 PM time period, freshman legal dramedy The Defenders, will relocate to the Friday 8 PM berth on Feb. 4, following the series finale of veteran paranormal drama Medium. No surprise in the launch strategy for CBS’ midseason drama Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior, which will succeed Blue Bloods in the Wednesday 10 PM slot beginning Feb. 16 when Blue Bloods will return to its Friday 10 PM home. The Criminal Minds spinoff was widely expected to air behind the mothership series the way NCIS: LA follows NCIS on Tuesday. But somewhat unexpected was the harsh treatment of CBS’ other midseason drama series Chaos. CBS brass fought hard for the series, whose midseason pickup originally fell through after a deal with producing studio 20th Century Fox TV could not be reached. The project was later resurrected, picked up and made a co-production with CBS TV Studios. But now, the comedic drama about a group of rogue CIA spies has been assigned the tough Friday 8 PM slot where it will succeed The Defenders on April 1 when the freshman will have completed its reduced first-season order. (I’m sure the producers of the series starring Freddy Rodriguez are hoping … Read More »

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Hispanics About To Top Young Viewership

Nellie Andreeva

The rise of Hispanics in the U.S. is undisputable, even with the recession slowing down immigration. Their impact on U.S. TV viewership is growing, too. Nielsen just released an estimate projecting that 40% of new TV homes next year will be Latino. Overall, that is a 3% growth in the number of Hispanic TV households vs. .5% increase for African American TV homes. Meanwhile, top Spanish-language broadcaster Univision reported its first weekly win in the key adults 18-49 demographic, beating its English-language counterparts for the first time last week. Granted, the win involves an atypical week, one that included part of the Labor Day weekend that is especially slow for the traditional broadcasters. And Univision featured a strong Mexico vs. Ecuador soccer game and the finale of one of its telenovelas. Still, the win is impressive and was Univision’s 14th weekly victory in adults 18-34, a demographic once completely owned by Fox.

The English-language networks must be taking notice. Read More »

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UTA Signs ‘Chaos’ Star Freddy Rodriguez

By | Friday August 20, 2010 @ 12:42pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Freddy Rodriguez who headlines CBS’ midseason drama series Chaos, has signed with UTA for representation. This marks the actor’s return to UTA after being repped by ICM for the past 3 years. On Tom Spezialy/Brett Ratner’s Chaos, Rodriguez plays agent Rick Martinez, the leader of a group of rogue CIA operatives. The project received a midseason series order by CBS last month after negotiations between the network and 20th TV had broken off and the options on the actors had expired. UTA also recently signed Chaos co-star James Murray. Rodriguez’s previous TV credits include a role on Six Feet Under, which earned him an Emmy nomination, and a stint on Ugly Betty. His feature credits include Lady in the Water, Poseidon and Grindhouse. Rodriguez will continue to be repped by Kass and Stokes Management and attorney Steve Warren.

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It’s Official: ‘Chaos’ Picked Up To Series At CBS For Midseason

Nellie Andreeva

Back From the Dead: CBS’ ‘Chaos’ Is Alive!

CBS eyeTom Spezialy’s CIA drama pilot Chaos completed its remarkable comeback with a midseason series order at CBS. The network and producing studio 20th Century Fox TV just closed a deal for a 13-episode order to the Brett Ratner-directed pilot. Chaos was presumed dead 3 weeks ago when CBS and 20th TV could not come to an agreement after 5 weeks of negotiations and the options on the actors were let to expire on June 30. Freddy RodriguezBut in the past 3 days, the network and the studio were able to patch things up on the dealmaking front (the lunch CBS Entertainment president Nina Tassler had with 20th TV chairmen Dana Walden and Gary Newman on Monday certainly helped) and to get the cast back. Closing the deals for the actors was no small feat, especially as it was accomplished in 48 hours. Coming back for the series are the pilot’s star Freddy Rodriguez and co-stars Eric Close, James Murray, Tim Blake Nelson and Carmen Ejogo. Per decision the network and studio made right after the upfront, Stephen Rea, who was also in the pilot, will be recast.

Chaos joins another comeback kid at 20th TV, drama pilot Breakout Kings, which landed a pickup at A&E after being passed on by Fox. At CBS, Chaos joins the network’s other midseason drama series, Criminal Minds: Suspect Read More »

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