With upfronts happening in NYC this week, it feels like a lot of the TV action is occurring off-screen. But the reality wars and multiple finales Monday proved the small screen still has a lot of moving and shaking going on. Coming off three nights last week of the live playoff round and a season low, The Voice (3.6/10) took a hit last night — and not just because the AC wasn’t working in the studio for the first part of the show. The Voice was down 12% to hit a performance low for this season, and while it was the night’s top-rated show, CBS’ How I Met Your Mother bested it for the first time in their overlapping half hour. Of course, with a live show expect to see those numbers adjusted in final ratings. The Voice’s lead-out Revolution (1.9/5) was also down, but only 5% from last week. NBC still won in the adults 18-49 demo, while ABC was tops in total viewers.
BREAKING: If Jason Segel isn’t careful, the writer side of his brain might eclipse the actor side. Segel, whose script work includes The Muppets and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, has just made his first big publishing deal. Random House Children’s …
After a month of last-minute haggling between CBS and 20th Century Fox TV over deal points, the network and studio have sealed an agreement for a ninth season of How I Met Your Mother. It will be the veteran comedy’s last season, and the show will finally reveal the identity of the mother. I hear it will be for 24 episodes. All series regulars — Josh Radnor, Jason Segel, Cobie Smulders, Neil Patrick Harris and Alyson Hannigan — are back, as are creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas. To show the cast their commitment to the show, Bays and Thomas were first to close a one-year show deal. Then came the dramatic actor negotiations as chronicled in Nikki Finke’s story that broke the news about HIMYM‘s pending renewal. The prospects of a ninth season appeared all but dead after Segel had held firmly to his decision to leave until an eleventh-hour turnaround. I hear Segel finally changed his mind after reviewing detailed records of the relatively light workload the hybrid series requires for a fat paycheck while also allowing busy actors like him to also pursue a feature career.
CBS’ Nina Tassler On Pending ‘How I Met Your Mother’ Renewal, Jennifer Esposito’s ‘Blue Bloods’ Exit: TCA
No doubt CBS would’ve liked to announce a ninth season renewal for How I Met Your Mother at TCA today but it didn’t as the network and producer 20th Century Fox TV are still haggling over some license fee deal points. (The pacts with creators/showrunners Craig Thomas and Carter Bays and the cast, including Jason Segel are done.) Things are very close. “I will be happy to report in a very few days (a renewal),” CBS’ Nina Tassler said. “I’m confident and excited that all will be resolved. Almost everything is completed.” As for where the show will go next season story-wise, “(Bays and Thomas) had two plans in place — if they had to resolve this year and or if they came back next year,” Tassler said after the session. “So we’ll sit down and talk to them in about a month about their plans for next year.” She assured that “this would be the end as designed by Carter and Craig.”
Tassler was asked about the network’s reputation of being tough on actors on procedural dramas in light of the recent decision to sideline and eventually drop Jennifer Esposito from Blue Bloods. “Oh, I don’t think we are tougher on our actors,” she said. “We employ them for many, many years. In a situation like this we are sorry to see her go, we tried to resolve it, it didn’t quite work out and we wish her the best.”
CBS gave a rare “shout out” to veteran Rules Of Engagement, which has been used to successfully plug holes on the schedule for most of its run, summoned to do it again this midseason on Mondays where it will replace cancelled Partners. “A show that serves us well, it is the best utility warrior on television.”
Asked whether there is a point where CBS would ask 2 Broke Girls executive producer Michael Patrick King to curb the racy content on the show, Tassler said, “I say to Michael as long as you keep us laughing, and as long as we vet stuff through standards and practices, we’re good. It’s an adult comedy. People enjoy it.”
Tassler spent a long time talking about summer series Under The Dome, a Steven Spielberg-produced adaptation of Stephen King’s novel, which was originally developed for sibling pay cable network Showtime.
Exactly a year ago, David Shore, creator/executive producer of Fox’s drama House was pushing the network to make a decision on the future of the show by the end of 2011 so he can give it a proper ending if faced with cancellation. At the time, House was in its eighth season, with Shore and star Hugh Laurie’s contracts coming up. Fox and producing studio Universal TV didn’t have a license fee deal for another season. The network didn’t make a decision by end of December as Shore wished, but by the beginning of February, the verdict was in - House would end its run after eight seasons.
Fast forward a year to this week. CBS‘ comedy How I Met Your Mother is in Season 8 and the last year of its current license deal with the network, with the contracts of creators Craig Thomas and Carter Bays and the cast all up at the end of the season. Like Shore, Thomas and Bays had requested a decision to be made by the end of this month because of the overarching mythology of the show, which needs to begin building toward the big mother reveal when an end date is set. Three weeks before the end of the year, there is activity on all three fronts — talks are underway between CBS and HIMYM producer 20th Century Fox TV as well as between 20th TV and Thomas and Bays and between the studio and reps for the series’ stars, Jason Segel, Josh Radnor, Cobie Smulders, Neil Patrick Harris and Alyson Hannigan.
CBS has been open about its desire to bring HIMYM for another season. “We want the show to come back next year,” the network’s entertainment president Nina Tassler said in August. “We’re not there yet in terms of resolving the situation, but we’re pretty optimistic.” It appears that the studio, 20th TV, and Thomas & Bays are also open to the idea of another season. But what about the cast? A virtual unknown when the show launched in 2005, Segel has seen his feature career take off over the past seven years. I hear that as of now, Segel has indicated that it is unlikely for him to return. He has not shut the door though.
CBS is known to take shots at its competitors, and the network’s entertainment president Nina Tassler came out swinging this morning. She walked out on stage for the CBS TCA executive session carrying a plush monkey, a jab at NBC, which brought in the monkey from its new comedy series Animal Practice to its TCA presentation and party, where she shared the lion’s share of attention with fellow guest Sarah Palin.
“It’s been a TCA full of cell phone announcements from the stage, monkeys, Sarah Palin, renegotiations. I couldn’t resist,” Tassler said of the TCA events from this past week that also included Fox Entertainment president calling new American Idol judge Mariah Carey during Fox’s executive session. While boasting about CBS’ ratings success (the network finished again as the most watched network and No. 2 in 18-49 to Fox this past season), Tassler took issue with another comment from Reilly who said on Monday that Fox’s reign as the top network among adults 18-49 may come to an end next season when CBS has the Super Bowl and AFC Championship Game. “According to Kevin Reilly ‑‑ thank you, Kevin ‑‑ we’ve just been awarded the 18‑49 crown for next year. Thanks, Kevin, but I think we’ll try to earn it before we claim it.”
Tassler confirmed that the network is in talks with 20th Century Fox TV and creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas for a ninth season of veteran comedy How I Met Your Mother. (Tassler’s “pet monkey” wore a HIMYM tie too!) “The show had an incredible year last year,” Tassler said. “We’re having conversations right now about extending it, we want the show to come back next year. We’re still in early conversations, we’re not there yet in terms of resolving the situation, but we’re pretty optimistic.” Talks for a potential Season 9 are starting early because of the concept of HIMYM, which will lead to the reveal of who the mother is, so planning for a final season has to start way in advance. “Craig and Carter have a very strategic wrapup for the show,” Tassler said.
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
The trendy new term at TCA is, “That’s a high-class problem,” and the CBS comedy How I Met Your Mother has one. The show is improbably enjoying its best ratings ever during its seventh season and is also CBS’ youngest-skewing series. And while the series is contracted to remain on the air through next season, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be “8 and out” for the show. Its co-creator and co-showrunner Carter Bays said during a TCA panel this morning that there hasn’t been a discussion about setting a series end date. “Oh, we’ve talked about it,” he admitted, “because we’ve gotten the question a lot. But I don’t think we can say what it will be just now. It’s not a high priority for us. I imagine when we’re going into the final season, we’ll get people hip to that. But right now it’s hard for us to say it will be May 14, 2000-whatever. It will happen when we’re officially out of ideas.” Bays added that he knows what the Mother endgame is going to be but naturally had no inclination to share it. Star Jason Segel added that he’d simply love to see the show go on long enough so the story comes to a natural conclusion, “whether that be 8 or 9 years. I was so relieved when I found out there was an actual plan,” he said.