Opening a new night of original programming is not easy, so expectations for HBO’s new Monday 9 PM comedy block — which faces CBS’ comedies, ABC’s Dancing With The Stars, Fox’s House and ESPN’s Monday Night Football — were modest. Even by that standard, the well-received new Mike White/Laura Dern comedy Enlightened opened low with 210,000 viewers at 9:30 PM. It slipped a little from its lead-in, the third-season premiere of Bored To Death, which drew 240,000 viewers. Quirky noir comedy Bored To Death was down dramatically from its season premiere last fall, which averaged 1.05 million viewers, but back then, the show aired on Sundays following Boardwalk Empire, which drew 3.33 million viewers on the night of the Bored debut. This time around, it is dark comedy Hung that follows Boardwalk Empire and, like Bored to Death last year, it opened with 1.1 million viewers earlier this month. (Boardwalk Empire logged 2.6 million that night) Sophomore comedy How To Make It To America dropped further to 467,000 viewers at 10:30 PM. While soft, the numbers for Bored and Enlightened were only slightly down from the average for another half-hour series that aired outside HBO’s signature Sunday night, drama In Treatment.
EXCLUSIVE: HBO has tapped Joe Pantoliano and Eriq La Salle for arcs on the upcoming second season of comedy series How To Make It In America, about a group of young hustlers in New York. Pantoliano will play Felix Di Florio, Lulu’s (Nicole Laliberte) intimidating and protective father, a powerful and influential New York artist. Pantoliano is a familiar face at HBO. He co-starred on the network’s hit drama The Sopranos, winning an Emmy for his gig. ER alum La Salle will play Everton Thompson, an educated Jamaican community activist who throws a wrench in the growth of Rene’s (Luis Guzman) company.
James Ransone and Mike Zegen are already recurring on HBO series – Treme and Boardwalk Empire, respectively. Now both have landed recurring roles on another HBO show, How To Make It In America. Ransone will do a major arc as Neanderthal Tim – a Brooklyn artist and rival clothing company owner who will be Ben (Bryan Greenberg) and Cam’s (Victor Rasuk) antagonist in Season 2. In November, Ransone was tapped to recur on David Simon’s Treme as Desautel’s (Kim Dickens) roommate who is also a chef. Ransone, repped by Paradigm and Management 360, has previously appeared on HBO’s mini Generation Kill and Simon’s series The Wire. He most recently starred in the film Son Of No One. Zegen, repped by ICM and Principal, is recurring on Boardwalk Empire as famed gangster Benny Siegel.
Jeff Daniels has closed his deal to play the male lead in Aaron Sorkin’s HBO drama pilot set behind the scenes at a cable news show. The project, which recent Oscar winner Sorkin is executive producing with Scott Rudin, centers on news anchor Will McCallister (Daniels), who has his own cable show, a female executive producer and staff. Greg Mottola is directing. Daniels is with ICM.
David Rasche (Ugly Betty) has joined the cast of HBO’s comedy series Bored to Death as a recurring. He will play Bernard Morse, a West Coast rival for George Christopher (Ted Danson). Morse is a health nut with an affinity for Scottish Terriers, and he made his fortune in Silicon Valley with Philip K. Dick-like innovations. Rasche, repped by Innovative and Liebman Entertainment, also recently booked the role of Agent X in Men in Black 3D, which originally was planned for Alec Baldwin.