After intense negotiations, ABC has closed a deal with 20th Century Fox TV for the pickup to series of two comedy pilots, multi-camera Cristela, starring Cristela Alonzo, and Nahnatchka Khan’s single-camera Fresh Off The Boat, as well as the fourth season renewal of comedy series Last Man Standing starring Tim Allen. The holdup had been a request from the network for a license fee reduction on Last Man Standing, something 20th had already agreed last season for what was supposed to be a one-time thing and was unwilling to do it again. The studio had leverage with Cristela and Fresh Off The Boat, which ABC was looking to pick up. After some back-and-forth, a deal has been reached, with all three shows safely on ABC’s schedule next season. Both Cristela and Fresh Off the Boat reflect the immigrant experiences of their creators, Cristela Alonzo, who co-wrote the script with Kevin Hench, and Khan, who based her show on Chef Eddie Huang’s memoir. (Both Khan and Alonzo are first generation Americans.) Both Cristela and Last Men Standing hail from 21 Laps/Adelstein.
ABC & 20th TV Reach Deal: ‘Cristela’ & ‘Fresh Off the Boat’ Picked Up To Series, ‘Last Man Standing’ Renewed
‘Last Man Standing’ And Pilots ‘Cristela’ & ‘Fresh Off The Boat’ Part Of Tense Negotiation Between ABC & 20th TV
It wasn’t hard to notice last night that there was a connection between the three comedy projects that had been expected to get pickups but didn’t: pilots Cristela and Fresh Off The Boat and series Last Man Standing. All three hail from 20th Century Fox TV. I hear the three are part of a negotiation between ABC and the studio that somewhat echoes last year’s four-series negotiation between Sony TV and NBC that included pilots The Blacklist, Welcome To The Family and Night Shift and returning Community. I hear the issue is a request from the network for a license fee reduction on Last Man Standing. I hear the network had made the same request last year after Last Man‘s first season in the lower-trafficked Friday 8 PM slot in what was supposed to be a one-time thing. I hear the studio agreed and Last Man was renewed for a third season.
Further squeezing the license fee for the show may be problematic for the studio as star Tim Allen commands a six-figure per-episode pay check. On the other hand, sibling Twentieth TV had been shopping Last Man for a syndication sale, so getting a fourth season …
ABC has picked up five additional episodes each of Friday comedies Last Man Standing and Malibu Country. After a strong launch earlier this month, both sophomore Last Man and newbie Malibu Country have been sliding in the ratings, with a steeper decline for Malibu, which started off higher. Even so, with DVR viewing included, Last Man Standing ranks as the top-rated show in Friday’s 8 PM half-hour with Adults 18-49 (2.1/7). Retaining 100% of its adult 18-49 lead-in (2.1/7) from Last Man Standing and gaining viewers, Malibu Country starring Reba McEntire stands as TV’s most-watched freshman comedy this season (8.7 million). Part of the reason for the small back order is the fact that the two shows premiered more than a month after the beginning of the season, so ABC won’t need as many episodes. With their partial back orders, Last Man and Malibu Country join new drama Nashville and new comedy The Neighbors, which received full-season pickups with back-nine orders, as did sophomore drama Scandal. New dramas Last Resort and 666 Park Ave. have been cancelled.
As ABC is nearing back episodic decision on new dramas Nashville (UPDATE: Nashville just received a full-season order), Last Resort and 666 Park Ave, I hear the network has ordered three additional scripts each of comedies Malibu Country and Last Man Standing. Both shows started the fall with 13-episode orders. Freshman Malibu Country and sophomore Last Man Standing launched only two weeks ago. Both had a great start in the Friday 8 PM slot before dropping double-digits in Week 2.
After giving comedies a warm welcome back to Friday last week, viewers turned a cold shoulder last night. In their second week, Last Man Standing (1.6/5) was down 16% from last Friday’s fast national, while Malibu Country (1.6/5) tumbled 27% from its premiere. The comedies surrendered the top spot in the 8 PM hour among adults 18-49 to CBS’ Undercover Boss (2.0/7) which, after a mediocre season start last week, jumped 33% to finish a close second for the night in the demo behind former time slot rival Shark Tank (2.1/6). With its comedy lead-in dropping big, Shark Tank slipped 9% from last week’s series highs but still led ABC to a nightly win in 18-49. The network topped the 9 PM and the 10 PM hours in the demo with Shark Tank and 20/20 (1.6/5, up a tenth from last week)
Meanwhile, CSI: NY (1.4/4) didn’t take advantage of its much improved Undercover Boss lead-in, down a tenth from last week. Blue Bloods (1.5/5) was up two tenths with the episode marking the exit of Jennifer Esposito’s character (for now). CBS won the night in total viewers.
Grimm (1.7/5) was down a tenth from last week with virtually no lead-in (comedy repeats that tied the CW’s America’s Next Top Model in the 8 PM hour). It still ranked as the highest-rated scripted show on the night. Dateline (1.3/4) was flat.
Top Model (0.6/2) was up 50% from …
EXCLUSIVE: Nastaran Dibai has been elevated to executive producer/showrunner of Malibu Country. This is the first showrunner gig for Dibai, who had been a co-executive producer on the ABC/ABC Studios freshman comedy since after the pilot. Dibai succeeds Malibu Country creator/executive producer Kevin Abbott who left the series a month ago when he checked himself into rehab. Abbott, who also serves as an executive producer of ABC’s Last Man Standing, has just completed his treatment. He will resume his duties as an executive producer of Last Man Standing but won’t be back on Malibu Country, at least for the foreseeable future. ABC and ABC Studios had put the succession plan with Dibai in place when Abbott originally left and opted not to shake things up again on a show, which is still finding its footing. Additionally, it is unclear whether Abbott is ready to take on a full load of showrunner responsibility right away. Malibu Country is a priority for ABC after a strong premiere last Friday.
Abbott served as showrunner for most of Last Man Standing‘s first season, stepping in for creator Jack Burditt. Abbott passed on Last Man Standing showrunner duties to Tim Doyle in May to focus on Malibu Country. Doyle continues as showrunner; Abbott will serve as executive producer alongside him.
EXCLUSIVE: I’ve learned that Kevin Abbott, creator/executive producer/showrunner of new ABC comedy series Malibu Country and executive producer of the network’s sophomore comedy Last Man Standing, has gone on indefinite medical leave from the two shows after checking himself into a rehab facility. I hear Abbott, a family man, made the decision to seek help and has the support of Malibu Country star/executive producer Reba McEntire and her husband/manager, Narvel Blackstock, also an executive producer on the show. For the time being, Abbott’s showrunner duties on Malibu Country are being divvied up among the show’s senior writing-producing staff. The series, slated to premiere November 2, is several episodes into production on its 13-episode order, and shooting has not been impacted by Abbott’s departure for now.
Shiri Appleby is finalizing a deal for a recurring role on NBC’s new firefighter drama Chicago Fire produced by Dick Wolf. She will play Clarice, the ex-girlfriend of Shay (Lauren German) who is pregnant and married to a rich husband. The pending deal comes on the heels of Appleby booking a recurring role on the second season of the HBO comedy Girls. She is with Gersh and manager John Carrabino.
Amanda Fuller has been cast as a new regular on the second season of the ABC comedy Last Man Standing. She will portray Tim Allen and Nancy Travis’ oldest daughter Kristin, played in the first season by Alexandra Krosney. This is one of several recastings the series is undergoing heading into its sophomore season. Fuller, repped by Global Artists Agency and Thruline, recently recurred on Grey’s Anatomy.
Canadian Emily Bett Rickards has landed a recurring role on the new CW drama Arrow, which takes on the Green Arrow comics. She will play Felicity Smoak, a DC Comics character known for her technical expertise. Smoak on Arrow is a similar character, an IT wunderkind at Queen Consolidated.
Multicamera sitcoms hit a milestone last month when two freshmen, NBC’s Whitney and ABC’s Last Man Standing, were renewed for a second season. It marked the first time a freshman multicamera comedy on a broadcast network other than CBS has made it to Season 2 in five years, since ‘Til Death was awarded a second season on Fox in 2007. Overall, three freshman multicamera comedies, including CBS breakout 2 Broke Girls, went to a second the season, the most in a decade. But despite that major achievement, multicamera comedies lost ground as the single-camera/multicamera divide between CBS and the rest of the broadcast networks deepened this upfront.
ABC, NBC and Fox ordered a combined 14 new comedy series this year, the same as last year, but the number of multicamera comedies dropped by more than half. Of the 14, 5 or 36% were multicamera last year. This time, the number has fallen to two, or 14% — ABC’s Malibu Country and NBC’s Guys With Kids. Fox will have no multicamera series on the air next season, while ABC and NBC will have two each, Malibu Country and Last Man Standing (ABC) and Whitney and Guys With Kids (NBC). In a sign of the hard time the multicamera format has had outside CBS, when ABC recently decided to re-pilot CBS’ Rebel Wilson comedy pilot Super Fun Night, it opted to convert it from multi- to single camera.
Veteran comedy writer-producer Tim Doyle (Rules Of Engagement) has joined ABC’s comedy series Last Man Standing as executive producer/showrunner for its upcoming second season. Kevin Abbott, who held the post for most of last season stepping in for creator Jack Burditt, will continue to serve as an executive producer and will remain integral to Last Man Standing but non-exclusive; his pilot, ABC’s Malibu Country, was picked up to series. (Abbott serves as executive producer/showrunner on Malibu Country, which he’d had in development prior to coming aboard Last Man Standing.) On LMS, which will be paired with Malibu Country on Fridays in the fall, Doyle and Abbott will executive produce alongside Marty Adelstein, Becky Clements, Shawn Levy, Tim Allen, Kevin Hench, Rick Baker, and Richard Messina. In addition to the behind-the-scene showrunner change, there will be an on-screen one too on LMS next season. As our sister site TVLine first reported, Alexandra Krosney, who played the eldest daughter of Tim Allen’s Mike and Nancy Travis’ Vanessa, won’t return, with the role likely recast. Doyle’s credits also include Roseanne, Grace Under Fire, and Ellen. Doyle and Abbott are with CAA.