Judy Garland wore an iconic blue gingham from Kansas to Emerald City and back in The Wizard Of Oz. And this weekend that dress fetched a cool green $480,000 at Julien’s Auctions in Beverly Hills. Steve McQueen’s racing jacket went for …
NBC’s The Playboy Club and Prime Suspect and ABC’s Charlie’s Angels had two things in common going into this fall. Highly recognizable titles, for once, as they all were based on famous brands. And they all got on the air after 2 consecutive rounds of development. Now they share something else: they all launched to disappointingly low ratings and are staring down the cancellation barrel. How did that happen?
Just a month ago, things were looking up for the 3 series. Besides pre-sold titles, all were backed by extensive promotional campaigns and all had a strong marketing hook. For Playboy Club, it was the Playboy empire which threw its support by hosting pre-launch parties at the Playboy mansion and doing a special cover of Playboy magazine promoting the show’s launch. For Charlie’s Angels, it was Drew Barrymore’s involvement as an executive producer. (She even appeared as a presenter at the Emmys alongside the series’ stars.) Prime Suspect had a well-known film actress, Maria Bello, as the lead. Additionally, in their road to the screen, all 3 drams seemed to follow the successful formula of CBS’s Hawaii Five-0. CBS originally put the reboot of the classic procedural in development during the 2008-09 development season with Ed Bernero as the writer. The project didn’t go to pilot, and the following season, CBS tried again with new writers: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Peter Lenkov. The script sailed through the pilot stage and the show landed on CBS’ 2010 fall schedule.
Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of TCA.
At this summer’s TCA, across the networks, there has been more than one panel including earnest, beautiful young women, mostly clad in teeny-tiny skirts and architecturally challenging platform heels, talking about how retro shows about gaggles of “girls” answering primarily to male bosses are actually all about female empowerment. Network execs and show producers also seem to be repeating the girl-power mantra. The main cases in point: NBC’s set-in-the-’60s The Playboy Club, ABC’s new Pan Am and the remake of the 1976-81 series Charlie’s Angels, co-executive produced by Leonard Goldberg with Drew Barrymore (veteran of the Charlie’s Angels movies) and creators/executive producers Al Gough and Miles Millar (both of Smallville). The show was unveiled at last month’s Comic-Con with the phrase: “These ain’t your mama’s angels.”
Following this morning’s Charlie’s Angels panel, I asked Millar the empowerment question: Really? He at first seemed to be addressing the issue by saying that initially, Gough’s and Miller’s wives didn’t want them to do the show. Why? Because the original angels were such role models to the producers’ spouses, Millar said reverently. “They didn’t believe we could do it [and maintain] the legacy of Charlie’s Angels.” Millar said during the panel that the idea of the new series was not to make “a cynical remake” of the original, nor to assume the same tone as the movies, about which Gough said: “[They were] superheroes for girls, post-Matrix … [the new show will] bring to the table more grounded, more real” characters with somewhat dark back stories. “You want to have something to come back to every week.” Describing the tone of the new show, Gough said: “If Jack Bauer and Carrie Bradshaw had a love child, it would be [the new] Charlie’s Angels.”
Running out of slots for comedy series and striking out with new dramas in the fall, NBC and ABC in midseason expanded their existing two-hour comedy blocks on Thursday and Wednesday, respectively, to three hours, to largely uninspiring results. Going into next fall, the 10-11 PM comedy hours are being scrapped in favor of opening up more traditional 8-9 PM comedy blocks on other nights. In another sign of the resurgence of the comedy genre, for the first time in six years, each of the Big Four broadcast networks will have two comedy blocks on the fall schedule. Interestingly, both NBC and ABC opted to launch their new comedy blocks in the time periods where they most recently ran comedies. And just like the last time, both NBC and ABC populated the blocks with new comedies. In fall 2006, NBC launched 30 Rock and Twenty Good Years from 8-9 PM on Wednesday, the same time slot the network is using this year for new comedies Up All Night and Free Agents. ABC, which is going with the Tim Allen vehicle Last Man Standing and Chris Moynihan’s Man Up Tuesdays 8-9 PM, last tried comedies on the night in the fall of 2007, with then-newbies Cavemen and Carpoolers.
Something else happened this season: the return of the 10 PM drama. Scores of new dramas met their demise trying to get off the ground in the hour over the past few years, with the only shows to make it were modest hits Brothers and Sisters, Castle and The Good Wife. Uncertain about the prospects of 10 PM dramas, NBC even tried a Jay Leno talk show in the slot two seasons ago and had since kept the hour comedy/reality branded. But this season, all four freshman dramas to make it to Season 2 were 10 PM shows: CBS’ Hawaii Five-0 and Blue Bloods, ABC’s Body of Proof and NBC’s Harry’s Law. What’s more, for the first time in five years, all Big 3 networks have scheduled dramas in the 10 PM slot every night Sunday through Thursday.
When he took the stage for his first ABC upfront presentation, the network’s new president Paul Lee was quick to bring up the event’s main attraction. “When Anne Sweeney called me about this job, I asked myself, ‘Do I really want to be humiliated by Jimmy Kimmel in front of hundreds of people?’ The answer was: ‘Absolutely’ ”
Right away, Lee, who was visibly nervous, branded the network’s new lineup “pure entertainment,” so he began presenting ABC’s fall schedule with Thursday night, showcasing new 8 PM anchor Charlie’s Angels. “I’ve wanted to remake Charlie’s Angels since I was 14,” Lee said. He explained the decision to schedule the remake Thursdays at 8 PM with the fact that it will be the only scripted drama in the slot (besides CW).
Tim Allen was on hand to promote his new ABC comedy Last Man Standing. “It’s about a man in a women’s world. Its original name was The Paul Lee Story.” That was not the only jab at his new boss. “You can dump the accent, you got the job,” he told British-born Lee.
After the clip for ABC’s new cross-dressing comedy Work It, Lee justified his decision to pick up the show with, “So sue me, I’m a Brit,” segueing to “Talking about cross-dressing, here’s Jimmy Kimmel.”
Kimmel was his usual irreverent self. Here are some of his top barbs:
ABC Unveils 2011-12 Primetime Schedule
We may have the first head-to-head faceoff of two-hour comedy blocks in years this spring. ABC, which is launching a new Tuesday 8-9 PM comedy block with the Tim Allen starrer Last Man Standing and Chris Moynihan’s Man Up, leading into the Dancing With the Stars result show, plans to extend the block to two hours between the two cycles of Dancing, ABC Entertainment Group president Paul Lee announced at a press conference this morning. In what could be dubbed “men vs. women,” the two comedies with male leads will be followed by Courteney Cox’s Cougar Town and freshman Apartment 23 starring Krysten Ritter. Fox, of course, already has a 8-10 PM comedy block anchored by Glee at 8 PM and announced yesterday that it will convert it into a four-show block in March when Glee goes on hiatus. Since Dancing usually returns at the end of March, there is a good chance for the two four-comedy blocks to go toe to toe for a couple of weeks, a return to the old times when comedy ruled primetime with blocks on virtually every night of the week.
Home Improvement star Tim Allen is returning to ABC’s primetime, and the network will use his star power to launch a new comedy block. As we predicted, the network is opening up a 8-10 PM comedy block on Tuesday, with Allen’s comedy Last Man Standing anchoring it. ABC will be launching roughly half of its 13 new scripted series in the fall, including Charlie’s Angels, which has been given the tough task to open Thursday night. The network proved it was serious about Happy Endings, giving the modestly rated midseason series its prime comedy slot after Modern Family. Also noteworthy: 1960s soap Pan Am landed the post-Desperate Housewives slot, and ABC opted to go scripted in the Sunday 8 PM slot long occupied by Extreme Makeover: Home Edition with new fantasy series Once Upon a Time. ABC’s top series, Dancing With the Stars, Grey’s Anatomy and Desperate Housewives are staying put. Held for midseason are high-profile new entries Good Christian Belles and The River as well as returning comedy Cougar Town. All fall series have received traditional 13-episode orders, while the size of the orders for most midseason shows have not been determined. Here is ABC’s release with the fall schedule:
New ABC series for the 2011-12 season are “Apartment 23,” “Charlie’s Angels,” “Good Christian Belles,” “Last Man Standing,” “Man Up,” “Missing,” “Once Upon a Time,” “Pan Am,” “Revenge,” “The River,” “Scandal,” “Suburgatory” and “Work It.”
“America’s Funniest Home Videos,” “The Bachelor,” “Body of Proof,” “Dancing with the Stars,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” “Happy Endings,” “Secret Millionaire,” “Shark Tank” and “20/20” join previously announced returning series “Castle,” “Cougar Town,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “The Middle,” “Modern Family” and “Private Practice.” “Saturday Night College Football” also returns.
ABC’s fall primetime schedule is as follows; new shows are in bold:
8:00 p.m. “Dancing with the Stars”
10:00 p.m. “Castle”
8:00 p.m. “Last Man Standing”
8:30 p.m. “Man Up”
9:00 p.m. “Dancing with the Stars the Results Show”
10:00 p.m. “Body of Proof”
8:00 p.m. “The Middle”
8:30 p.m. “Suburgatory”
9:00 p.m. “Modern Family”
9:30 p.m. “Happy Endings”
10:00 p.m. “Revenge”
8:00 p.m. “Charlie’s Angels”
9:00 p.m. “Grey’s Anatomy”
10:00 p.m. “Private Practice”
8:00 p.m. “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”
9:00 p.m. “Shark Tank”
10:00 p.m. “20/20”
8:00 p.m. “Saturday Night College Football”
7:00 p.m. “America’s Funniest Home Videos”
8:00 p.m. “Once Upon a Time”
9:00 p.m. “Desperate Housewives”
10:00 p.m. “Pan Am”
NEW FALL AND MIDSEASON SERIES:
UPDATED: In features, it is the norm for big franchise movies to have multiple writers take a pass at a script before they get greenlighted. Now that MO seems to have migrated to TV in the case of tentpole series based on famous properties. During the 2008-09 development season, CBS put in development a reboot of iconic TV series Hawaii Five-0 penned by former Criminal Minds showrunner Ed Bernero. The project didn’t go to pilot, and the next season, CBS tried again with new writers: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Peter Lenkov. The script sailed through the pilot stage and the show landed on CBS’ 2010 fall schedule. This season, the same happened to 4 shows with pre-sold titles: ABC’s Charlie’s Angels, based on the classic series, and Pan Am, inspired by the famous airline, as well as NBC’s Prime Suspect, an adaptation of the acclaimed British series, and The Playboy Club, inspired by the original Playboy club in Chicago. The first 3 were originally developed last season with different writers: Charlie’s Angels was written by Josh Friedman, Prime Suspect by Hank Steinberg and Playboy (then Bunny Tales) by Becky Mode. None of them went to pilot but, just like Hawaii Five-0 last year, ABC and NBC took a second stab at remaking Charlie’s Angels and Prime Suspect and creating a Playboy club show this season with new writers.