EXCLUSIVE: Childrens Hospital co-star Ken Marino has joined the cast of the upcoming fourth and final season of HBO‘s comedy series Eastbound & Down, starring Danny McBride as self-obsessed and self-destructive baseball player Kenny Powers. Marino is slated to appear in all eight episodes from Season 4, playing Guy Young, a middle-aged athlete who’s still living the high life and partying it up every weekend. Also cast as a recurring next season is Tim Heidecker as Gene, a vanilla guy in Kenny’s neighborhood. He has nothing in common with Kenny and lacks even a basic sense of humor.
HBO Ends ‘Eastbound & Down’ With Season 4; ‘Boardwalk Empire’, Larry David’s ‘Clear History’ & ‘Hello Ladies’ Premieres Set
HBO said today that Eastbound & Down’s upcoming fourth season will be its last. The previously announced eight-episode Season 4 of self-obsessed and self-destructive baseball player Kenny Powers, starring Danny McBride, will debut September 29. Sources says that after convincing McBride, Will Ferrell, Andy McKay and the show’s other producers to not end things at the conclusion of Season 3, HBO hoped that Eastbound would continue on past a fourth season. However, the Eastbound gang had decided that four cycles was enough. HBO also announced Thursday that the Larry David film Clear History will air August 10 and that Boardwalk Empire will be back for its fourth season September 8. The cable network’s new comedy Hello Ladies, starring Stephen Merchant as a man looking for love in LA, will make its debut on September 29 in the 10 PM slot for an eight-episode first season right before Eastbound & Down.
NEW YORK, June 6, 2013 – EASTBOUND & DOWN, the raucous HBO comedy series from creators Danny McBride and Jody Hill, begins shooting its eight-episode fourth and final season tomorrow in North Carolina, with the season scheduled to launch SUNDAY, SEPT. 29 (10:00-10:30 p.m. ET/PT). McBride stars in the show as the irrepressible Kenny Powers, the former major league pitcher who is larger than life… and death.
In the third season of EASTBOUND & DOWN, which concluded in April 2012, Kenny Powers finally made it back to the majors and recaptured his former glory, only to fake his own death and run back home to his beloved April, the mother of his child. The upcoming fourth season picks up the action several years later and finds Kenny living the American Dream with his family in North Carolina.
Adam Buckman is a contributor to AwardsLine.
Viewers have embraced a certain degree of raunch in their TV comedies, but the Emmys have not quite caught up with them.
Though there have been exceptions in recent years – with nominations and scattered awards going to some of TV’s more adult-oriented comedy series, such as Curb Your Enthusiasm or Nurse Jackie – the lion’s share of Emmy attention continues to be paid to mainstream comedies on broadcast television, even though some of them, too, have pushed the content envelope in recent seasons.
Producers of some of TV’s raunchier comedies say they’d love Emmy recognition, but they’re not holding their breath. “I think it would be a huge honor obviously to have that sort of recognition,” says Danny McBride, co-creator, executive producer and star of the decidedly off-color Eastbound & Down on HBO. “Eastbound & Down is of a very crude nature, and the comic sensibility is dark. I don’t think you really see shows of that nature awarded in that way,” he said.
FX Announces Midseason Schedule
USA Network has firmed up its midseason schedule, which will feature the return of White Collar on January 17 and Royal Pains on January 18 and the premiere of new drama Common Law on January 26. White Collar and Royal Pains will air on the same nights they did in the summer — Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively — but will slide from 9 PM to 10 PM. Common Law, which stars Michael Ealy and Warren Kole as a pair of detectives forced to attend couples counseling, will air Thursdays at 10 PM. For the first time in awhile for a rookie USA series, Common Law will launch with no original lead-in from an established show. This past midseason, Fairly Legal launched on Thursdays 10 PM behind Royal Pains.
HBO’s off-beat comedy series Eastbound & Down will return for a third season on February 19, followed by the debut of Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant’s latest series Life’s Too Short. The comedies will air in the 10 PM hour, following new drama Luck, which launches January 29 following a preview after the season finale of Boardwalk Empire on December 11. Life’s Too Short is a faux documentary starring actor Warwick Davis as a fictionalized version of himself: a down-and-out little person desperately trying to hustle and connive his way back into the spotlight. Gervais will be able to promote Life’s Too Short with his stint as host of the Golden Globes in January.
Competition for Emmy nominations among this year’s Outstanding Comedy Series contestants is no laughing matter. The showdown between two 20th Century TV hits is more intense than ever, with Modern Family showrunners Steve Levitan and Christopher Lloyd trying to score their second consecutive Emmy win, while Glee executive producer Ryan Murphy is hoping to edge them out. That is, if one or more of a duo of up-and-comers — Community or Parks and Recreation — don’t act as spoilers. Then again, past Emmy stalwarts 30 Rock or The Office could resurface. Or Showtime’s bold, female-skewing dramedies Nurse Jackie or newbie The Big C might seize the spotlight. And don’t rule out the possibility of CBS’ The Big Bang Theory finally scoring a nod in its fourth season, or How I Met Your Mother receiving recognition in its sixth. And then there are the underdogs. As The Middle’s co-showrunner Eileen Heisler (with DeAnn Heline) says about ABC’s Wednesday night lineup, “We’re really grateful to Modern Family for bringing attention to family shows. We’ve benefi tted from their success, but I think it takes a little longer for people to realize the next door neighbor in The Middle is edgy and wry.”
If Modern Family does repeat, no ABC sitcom has managed that feat since Taxi more than 30 years ago. Of course, NBC’s won three years running. And Frasier took home a record five in succession between 1994 and 1998. So it can be done. But that doesn’t mean Modern Family’s Christopher Lloyd thinks it’s a shoo-in. “Among certain segments of the blogosphere who first anointed the show that everybody is supposed to be watching, there’s another rush to declare that it stinks now. And then there will be others who’ll want to say ‘I told you so’ when it wins again.”
There’s general agreement it would take a miracle for any freshman broadcast network comedy to crash this year’s top comedy series’ Emmy party, with the possible exception of Fox’s Raising Hope. Though there’s a sliver of daylight for a newbie cable show like The Big C, despite the fact it’s a dramedy. Cable continues to make inroads in the comedy series categories, evidenced by Showtime’s Nurse Jackie capturing eight Emmy nominations last year, including one for top comedy; with Showtime’s Weeds as well as HBO’s Entourage and Curb Your Enthusiasm landing series nods in recent years. This year, TV Land’s Hot in Cleveland has Emmy buzz. But only one cable comedy has ever won: HBO’s Sex and the City in 2001.
Here’s our assessment of the chances for this year’s comedy series in alphabetical order:
Although the NBC hitcom’s three-year winning streak ended last year (done in by ABC’s freshman breakout, Modern Family), it remains an industry darling — with good reason. While not as consistent as its earlier seasons, its comedy quality never seems to wane. So, without ever actually going away, it could be primed for a comeback. But the show, which celebrated its 100th episode this season, may also be mistakenly placed in the “been there, done that” category, even with red-hot writer/producer/actress/author Tina Fey at the helm (the recent Tracy Morgan scandal notwithstanding). But if the Academy revisits NBC’s quirky workplace comedies, they just might opt for the newer Parks and Recreation or Community.
THE BIG BANG THEORY
As popular as this CBS smash is, it has yet to be Emmy nominated despite originality in its scripts and ensemble. Kudos to the producers for broadening the cast this season and stepping up the romance for Mayim Bialik’s and Melissa Rauch’s roles, especially after Jim Parsons was acknowledged as last year’s Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series winner for nerd-chic hilarity. If you’re going to vote for a Chuck Lorre show this year, this one’s decidedly less baggage-laden than Two and a Half Men, which lost its Sheen.
THE BIG C
With lead Laura Linney considered a shoo-in for an Emmy nod, a side effect is that her show’s chances of breaking into the Outstanding Comedy Series Emmy race likely increases as well. Question is, did they increase enough? Is the TV Academy ready to honor a dark comedy centering on a woman’s battle with cancer? Perhaps it’s time. If so, there could be two Showtime noms in this category for the first time, assuming Nurse Jackie repeats. Says showrunner Jenny Bicks, “It’s not going to be an easy fight for us.”
Forever floating on the renewal bubble (it will live on for a fifth and final short season of 13 episodes next season), Chuck has a well-earned reputation as The Little Show that Could. But, plucky as it is, the unlikely spy yarn remains a significant Emmy long-shot. Besides, NBC already has a couple of potential sleeper contenders at the ready in Parks and Recreation and Community.
What is arguably NBC’s most innovative comedy shoots high creatively but has yet to land commensurate ratings. Critics, however, have been quick to sing the show’s praises, perhaps loudly enough to help get it noticed by Emmy voters. Remember when Fox’s Arrested Development used critical praise to trump low viewership? Showrunner Dan Harmon likens Community’s comedy to “Krispy Kreme — we just have to get it into people’s mouths.” Or, in the case of Academy voters, into their DVD players.
In its second season, the wine-soaked “Friends for grownups” really came into its own as an ensemble comedy rather than just a Courteney Cox vehicle. And it’s even poking fun at the icky title that long ago ceased to have anything to do with the series premise. Nonetheless, it’s probably not ABC’s Wednesday night show with the most heat in this comedy category because of Modern Family.
EASTBOUND & DOWN
This back-to-fi rst-base comedy about a washed-up baseball player enjoys the prestige of HBO and the marquee value of Will Ferrell as a producer. But it’s perhaps too raunchy for older TV Academy voters. Given that producer-star Danny McBride says this forthcoming third season will be its last, Eastbound & Down likely will strike out Emmy-wise.
After landing nominations in the top comedy category for three years running, HBO’s Hollywood insider send-up didn’t make the cut the last go-round. If shut out again, it’s because Academy voters have moved on from an aging series that returns for its shortened eighth and final season on July 24th. It didn’t help when news leaked out in May that HBO pulled it from broadcast syndication by Warner Bros Domestic TV.
If the television industry’s insiders love anything more than laughing, it’s laughing at itself (see 30 Rock, Curb Your Enthusiasm). And there’s been buzz about how this Showtime Brits-out-of-water comedy reinvented Matt LeBlanc. But, even if he might, the series probably doesn’t have a high enough profile yet to garner an Emmy nod.
In 2009, the Fox show that wouldn’t die became the first animated series in nearly half a century to win an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Comedy Series. But it was shut out the very next year. So expect the next TV Academy recognition for Family Guy around 2060. One question mark is whether the toon’s unique in-your-face way of campaigning for Emmy helps or hurts to sway voters. Then again, this is the comedy series category.
The second seasons of two underrated HBO comedy series, Bored to Death and Eastbound & Down, will premiere on Sept. 26. Bored to Death, starring Jason Schwartzman, Ted Danson and Zach Galifianakis, will air at 10PM, followed by Danny McBride’s Eastbound & Down at 10:30 PM.