NBC Cancels New Comedy ‘Free Agents’

By | Thursday October 6, 2011 @ 9:51am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

UPDATE 11:30 AM: NBC has made it official: Starting next week, repeats of Whitney will air in the Wednesday 8:30 PM slot vacated by Free Agents.

PREVIOUS: The inevitable happened this morning after another poor showing from NBC’s freshman Read More »

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RATINGS RAT RACE: No Boot Camp Bump For ‘X Factor’ But Fox Still Wins Night

Nellie Andreeva

We’ve yet to see the ratings growth on The X Factor that Simon Cowell keeps promising, but at least the show is maintaining its ratings levels. The first 90-minute edition of the singing series, which entered the boot camp phase … Read More »

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NBC’s Bob Greenblatt Not Rushing To Cancel Low-Rated ‘Playboy Club’ Or ‘Free Agents’

By | Thursday September 29, 2011 @ 11:08pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

There have been rampant rumors this week that NBC is cancelling underperforming new series The Playboy Club and Free Agents. It’s because the shows have logged 2 and 3 low-rated airings, respectively, dropping double-digits week-to-week. Also in danger is the network’s … Read More »

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RATINGS RAT RACE: ‘Suburgatory’ Opens Well To Seal Comedy Genre’s Comeback

Nellie Andreeva

Comedy’s hot streak this fall continues with another solid opening for a new half-hour show, ABC’s Suburgatory. The comedy starring Jane Levy and Jeremy Sisto drew a 3.3/9 among adults 18-49 at 8:30 PM, up 27% from the premiere of Better With You in the slot last fall for ABC’s biggest comedy debut in the half-hour in eight years. It also grew significantly from its lead-in, The Middle (2.6/8), which was down 16% from its season premiere last week. Suburgatory joins Fox’s New Girl, CBS’ 2 Broke Girls and NBC’s Up All Night and Whitney as the latest new comedy this season to open well. That gives every major broadcast network at least one promising new comedy in a single season — something we haven’t seen in ages — sealing the comedy genre’s comeback after a long drought. And comedy is not done for the season, with at least two more buzzworthy new half-hour entries — ABC’s Tim Allen-starrer Last Man Standing and Apartment 23 – showing potential to break out.

In its third week, Up All Night (2.1/6) shed two tenths vs. its time-slot premiere last week. It still performed better than all other NBC series on the night: doomed freshman Free Agents (1.0/3, down 23%), equally endangered sophomore Harry’s Law (1.2/3, flat with its season premiere last week) and Law & Order: SVU (2.0/5, down 17%). Read More »

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PREMIERE WEEK: Comedies In Comeback, Dramas Mixed While NBC & CW Struggle

Nellie Andreeva

As network executives break out the “I Survived Premiere Week” T-shirts, they are probably relieved as most nets have something to brag about. Overall, the comedy genre’s comeback was in full force: Half-hour series had a big showing, claiming the top six highest-rated non-sports programs of premiere week among adults 18-49, including rookies 2 Broke Girls (7.1/16 in Live+Same Day) and New Girl (4.8/12) and returning Two and a Half Men (10.7/25), Modern Family (average of 6.1/16 for two episodes), How I Met Your Mother (5.0/13) and The Big Bang Theory (5.0/15). (Additionally, Modern Family, HIMYM and The Middle were all up double-digits from last fall’s premieres, while Big Bang was essentially flat). For comparison, the highest-rated drama series last week was veteran NCIS (4.3/12) and the highest-rated reality series was the X Factor premiere (4.4/12).

Comedies also stood out among the crop of new series, with two potential breakout hits, Fox’s New Girl and CBS’ 2 Broke Girls; two promising new entries, NBC’s Whitney (3.3/8) and Up All Night (2.4/7); and only one dud, NBC’s Free Agents (1.3/4). In contrast, there were no drama breakouts this past week, with four solid openers — ABC’s Revenge (3.3/9) and Pan Am (3.1/8) and CBS’ Person of Interest (3.1/8) and Unforgettable (2.9/8) — and three disappointments in NBC’s The Playboy Club (1.6/4) and Prime Suspect (1.8/5) and ABC’s Charlie’s Angels (2.1/6). Read More »

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RATINGS RAT RACE: ‘X Factor’ Premiere Falls Short, ‘Revenge’ Off To Strong Start

Nellie Andreeva

UPDATE: The premiere of Simon Cowell’s The X Factor drew a modest (by mega talent competition series standards) 4.2 rating/12 share in adults 18-49 and 12.1 million viewers. That fell short not only of the January season premiere of American Idol (9.7/26, 21.6 million viewers in the fast nationals) but also the April debut of NBC’s The Voice (5.1/13, 11.8 million) in the demo. It also fell well short of Cowell’s publicly stated expectations of beating Idol and attracting 20 million viewers. In the 9 PM hour, X Factor was beaten by ABC’s Modern Family in both 18-49 and total viewers and CBS’ Criminal Minds in viewers. Still, by virtue of Fox’s long history of low fall ratings, X Factor delivered Fox its first premiere week Wednesday win in 18-49 in 18 years and its highest-rated Wednesday in 13 years.

ABC (4.1/11, 11.4 million) had a great night against X Factor, with its returning series The Middle and Modern Family both growing from last fall and hitting demo series highs, and new drama Revenge launching well at 10 PM. The hourlong season premiere of The Middle (3.0/9) at 8 PM was up 11% from last September when the show’s season opener was a half-hour. At 9 PM, off its sweep at the Emmys, Modern Family (6.0/15, 14.3 million) opened its third season up 18% from the Season 2 premiere and ranked as the highest-rated program of the night in both the demo (by a wide margin) and total viewers. It also provided a strong lead-in for new soap Revenge (3.4/9, 10.1 million), which gave ABC its best debut in the Wednesday 10 PM time period in four years, outpacing last fall’s debut of The Whole Truth in the hour by 127% and topping the hour in 18-49. Read More »

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RATINGS RAT RACE: ‘Survivor’, ‘Top Model’ Down In Return, ‘Up All Night’ Solid In Preview, ‘Free Agents’ Not So Much

Nellie Andreeva

Pre-fall launches continued last night with the season premiere of CBS veteran Survivor and previews of new NBC comedies Up All Night and Free Agents, while two summer staples, NBC’s America’s Got Talent and CBS’ Big Brother, wrapped their seasons.

Encouraging news for NBC’s new Christina Applegate-starring comedy Up All Night, which opened with a 3.7/10 at 10 PM, following the season finale of Talent (3.5/10 in adults 18-49). It built on its lead-in and ranked as the top program of the night in the demo. Up All Night can use the sampling as it has been tasked with anchoring a new Wednesday 8-9 PM comedy block for NBC starting next week. It is not clear how much help it will get from its companion, the Hank Azaria-starring Free Agents, which faltered in the preview last night, posting a 2.1/6 and dropping almost half of its Up All Night lead-in. Overall, the rookie comedies (average of 2.9/8 in 18-49) performed better than the now-defunct legal drama Outlaw (2.4/7), which NBC previewed behind the Talent finale last September. As for Talent (3.5/10), it was down 10% vs. last year’s finale, but comparing fast nationals-to-fast nationals, it was down 5%. NBC (3.3/9, 12.3 million) won the night in 18-49 and total viewers. Read More »

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New Broadcast Season: Which Network’s Got The X Factor?

Nellie Andreeva

The broadcast season unofficially kicks off tonight. And just like in a kids board game, the youngest of the networks, the CW, got to start first, unspooling its new series Ringer starring Sarah Michelle Gellar. Also launching tonight are the new seasons of the CW’s 90210 and NBC’s Parenthood, marking the unofficial start of the new season, which kicks in on Monday. Here are the networks’ standings going into the fall season:

With Yankees, Red Sox and Phillies on tap for baseball’s postseason this year, along with the heavily promoted The X Factor and new big-budget dinosaur drama Terra Nova, Fox is in a position to significantly outperform last fall when the network carried the National League Championship Series and had two DOA shows, drama Lone Star and comedy Running Wilde. The question marks at the network this fall are the new comedies, New Girl and I Hate My Teenage Daughter, though both are propped up by solid lead-ins, Glee and X Factor, respectively, and whether Glee and House can rebound after a disappointing 2010-11 season. If the stars align and X Factor lives up to its ratings expectations, Fox may win the fourth quarter as it did two years ago when it also had the American League Championship Series and the highly rated freshman season of Glee.

Fox’s main rival for the top spot in the fall will be the epitome of stability, CBS, which will get a ratings boost from the re-launch of Two and a Half Men. The consensus is that CBS has potential breakout hits on its hands with new Monday comedy Two Broke Girls, which is launching behind the much-hyped return of Two and a Half Men, and possibly Thursday drama Person of Interest. The network is getting high marks for taking its aging series such as the CSI franchise and Survivor and relocating them to troubled spots on the schedule that they shore up. The network is expected to accomplish that again this season with the mothership CSI series, which is moving to Wednesday 10 PM, with its replacement on Thursday, Person of Interest, looking to do at least as well as CSI if not better. The only question marks at CBS are new Thursday 8:30 comedy How To Be a Gentleman and where Men will settle after the initial ratings spike. Read More »

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BBC America To Air Original ‘Free Agents’

By | Monday August 29, 2011 @ 9:23am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

A month after NBC’s version of the British comedy series Free Agents premieres, the original will make its U.S. debut on BBC America. The hit BBC romantic comedy set in the office of a London talent agency stars … Read More »

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TCA: NBC Lets Slip A Slight British Accent

Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of TCA.

At the NBCUniversal press sessions at Monday’s TCA, not one but two of the new series introduced here are re-imaginings of British shows. In the morning, it was the comedy Free Agents. This afternoon, it was the Maria Bello starrer Prime Suspect, a re-invention of the critically acclaimed British procedural drama starring Helen Mirren as Jane Tennison, a homicide detective with a dark side. This time around, England is New York City, and Maria Bello is Jane Timoney, a brilliant “bad cop” disliked by her squad. She’s all tough and stuff. At age 44, Bello joins the ranks of glamorous middle-aged actresses who have found a place for themselves in TV’s procedural dramas.

Also like the producers of Free Agents, co-executive producer/writer Alexandra Cunningham said the show would be a little less dark than seems to suit British tastes: While the New Jane drinks like the Old Jane, the story lines won’t delve into alcoholism. New Jane smokes like Old Jane — but in the USA in 2011, she’s trying to quit. (Bello also confessed that she is a smoker.) Said Cunningham: “The thing that makes this different from other procedurals is the humor,” which she adds will harken to the style of Hill Street Blues and Barney Miller. Read More »

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TCA: NBC Looks To Break Into Comedy Club With “Crooked” ‘Free Agents’

Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of TCA.

TCA: NBC Renews Overall Deal With Greg Daniels, Signs Pacts With Gary Sanchez Prods, Sean Hayes & More From Exec Panel
In his executive session this morning at TCA in Beverly Hills, NBC entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt, addressing the idea that NBC wants to raise its stakes in the scripted comedy business, admitted only half-jokingly that introducing a new comedy in any time slot in today’s TV landscape is like “standing in the middle of the 405.” And at TCA, NBC’s new comedy Free Agents, based on the British series, was the first to merge onto the freeway in a late-morning panel.

The Wednesday night show, described by the network as a “crooked romantic comedy” from creator John Enbom and director-producer Todd Holland, stars Hank Azaria and Kathryn Hahn as two corporate PR executives — read damage control experts — whose own personal lives are more of a mess than the people they represent. Hahn’s character drinks too much to cover her pain over the death of her fiance. Azaria’s character is a divorced dad who apparently is as outspokenly miserable as Ray Romano’s character in TNT’s recently cancelled dramedy Men of a Certain Age. In the series, the two grapple with the aftermath of an unexpected romantic tryst. Read More »

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2011 Fall Schedule: 10-11 PM Comedies Out, 8 PM Comedy Blocks And 10 PM Dramas In

Nellie Andreeva

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. Read More »

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2ND UPDATE: NBC Picks Up Comedies Parham/St. Clair, ‘Bent’, Chelsea Handler, ‘Free Agents’, Passes On More Pilots

By | Friday May 13, 2011 @ 9:36am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

NBC Picks Up ‘Awake,’ ‘Playboy’ & ‘Grimm’
‘Wonder Woman’ Not Going Ahead At NBC, ‘Mann’s World’ May Be Shopped To Cable

UPDATE: I hear NBC just picked up two more comedy pilots: romantic comedy Bent, starring Amanda Peet … Read More »

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Ben Rappaport To Star In CBS Half-Hour Pilot, Anthony Head Cast In NBC Comedy

By | Wednesday March 23, 2011 @ 7:15pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Ben Rappaport, star of NBC’s freshman comedy Outsourced, has been cast as the lead in CBS’ untitled Peter Knight comedy pilot. The project, from Sony and Happy Madison, is a workplace ensemble revolving around the young-adult … Read More »

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Kathryn Hahn Tapped As Female Lead In NBC’s Comedy Pilot ‘Free Agents’

By | Monday March 21, 2011 @ 5:00pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Kathryn Hahn is set as the female lead opposite Hank Azaria in NBC’s single-camera comedy pilot Free Agents. The romantic comedy, based on the UK series of the same name, explores the attraction between two quirky PR executives working together … Read More »

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Hank Azaria To Star In NBC’s Comedy Pilot ‘Free Agents’

By | Monday March 7, 2011 @ 11:25am PST
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: Hank Azaria has been tapped to star in NBC’s single-camera comedy pilot Free Agents, lifting the contingency on the project. The romantic comedy, based on the UK series of the same name, explores the attraction between two quirky PR … Read More »

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NBC Picks Up 4 More Pilots: Drama From ‘Lone Star’ Creator, 3 Comedies

Nellie Andreeva

UPDATED: NBC has picked up to pilot REM, the spec by Lone Star creator Kyle Killen which was taken out by 20th TV a couple of weeks ago. Additionally, the network has given the green light to 3 more … Read More »

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