Last Man Standing creator Jack Burditt is leaving the freshman ABC comedy series. Veteran comedy showrunner Kevin Abbott is expected to take over the reins of the show after Thanksgiving if he gets a sign-off from TV Land, where he is under contract. For 20th Century Fox TV, which produces Last Man Standing, Abbott was the top choice to replace Burditt as he successfully stepped in for the departing creator of another 20th TV comedy, Reba, several years ago. Coincidentally, Abbott is now writing a new comedy project starring Reba McEntire, which has a put pilot commitment at ABC. If it goes to series and Last Man Standing is renewed for a second season, Abbott will run both series concurrently. In addition to shepherding the McEntire-starring project Malibu Country, Abbott also has a deal with TV Land, where serves as a consulting producer on Retired At 35. He is now in the process of getting out of his contract at the cable network to join Last Man Standing. Burditt, on whose life Last Man Standing is based, suffered a family tragedy earlier this fall. He took an extended leave of absence, and when he eventually returned on the show, he felt he couldn’t stay on for the long haul. READ MORE »
ABC Gives Full-Season Orders To ‘Once Upon A Time’, ‘Last Man Standing’ & ‘Happy Endings’; 5 Scripts For ‘Pan Am’
ABC just gave full-season orders to three more series: freshmen Once Upon A Time and Last Man Standing and sophomore Happy Endings, which previously received a pickup of six additional scripts. Additionally, struggling new drama Pan Am is staying …
It turns out Modern Family was the Robin that signaled the comedy spring at the broadcast networks. Two years after the Emmy-winning ABC series became the first out-of-the-gate big comedy hit in years, the genre’s comeback is complete, while dramas appear headed for a down cycle. Here are the facts:
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.
Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of TCA.
Tim Allen was talking trash and slinging jokes at today’s TCA panel on the new sitcom from Jack Burditt (30 Rock) Last Man Standing. The show marks Allen’s return to ABC after his hit show about a manly man, Home Improvement (1991-99).
A lot has changed since then. “I believe that at HI we were doing a 28 share, sometimes into a 30 share, with 30 million viewers,” Allen recalled. “We could tell the president what to do at that time.” It’s a “tighter leadership” now at ABC, he added. “I don’t want to say cheaper but I just did. Sometimes leaner is better. In this case, it’s not. We drink water out of a hose. There are no water bottles at ABC.”
After Home Improvement, Allen cracked that he had received “thousands, hundreds, no, millions of offers” for new series. “Every day it was an offer. I had an ‘offer office.’ ” He said that he would have liked to do a legal drama: “I like Castle, but that was already done,” he said. He said he had an offer for a legal series but added “I’m not going to tell you, it’s too embarrassing. It’s on the air now, and they cast a woman in the part,” a hint pointing to Harry’s Law ,whose lead was originally conceived as a man. Other Last Man cast members joked that the series was actually ABC’s reboot of Charlie’s Angels. “Yes, I was the middle one. I’m very attractive in a halter,” Allen joked. Asked why all men on TV these days seem to be “douche bags,” Allen replied: “That was the working title for this show actually … but Fox got it … they have a lot of douche bags, actually.”
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.
After getting to the brink of extinction on ABC, NBC and Fox last year, multicamera comedies staged a comeback this upfront season. While the genre has been alive and well on CBS, the number of multicamera comedies on the other broadcast networks had steadily declined in the past few years to three during the 2009-10 season — the short-lived ABC’s Hank, Fox’s Brothers and NBC’s 100 Questions, which didn’t even air in-season — then to only one this season, ABC’s Better with You, which also has been canceled. But sitcoms rebounded this year, with ABC, Fox and NBC ordering a total of five multicamera comedies: NBC’s Whitney and Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea, ABC’s Last Man Standing and Work It and Fox’s I Hate My Teenage Daughter. Three of them, Last Men Standing, Whitney and I Hate My Teenage Daughter, are on the fall schedule in key slots — Tim Allen’s Last Man Standing is launching a new comedy block for ABC on Tuesday, while Whitney and Teenage Daughter landed their networks’ cushiest time periods: after The Office and The X Factor, respectively.
When he took the stage for his first ABC upfront presentation, the network’s new president Paul Lee was quick to bring up the event’s main attraction. “When Anne Sweeney called me about this job, I asked myself, ‘Do I really want to be humiliated by Jimmy Kimmel in front of hundreds of people?’ The answer was: ‘Absolutely’ ”
Right away, Lee, who was visibly nervous, branded the network’s new lineup “pure entertainment,” so he began presenting ABC’s fall schedule with Thursday night, showcasing new 8 PM anchor Charlie’s Angels. “I’ve wanted to remake Charlie’s Angels since I was 14,” Lee said. He explained the decision to schedule the remake Thursdays at 8 PM with the fact that it will be the only scripted drama in the slot (besides CW).
Tim Allen was on hand to promote his new ABC comedy Last Man Standing. “It’s about a man in a women’s world. Its original name was The Paul Lee Story.” That was not the only jab at his new boss. “You can dump the accent, you got the job,” he told British-born Lee.
After the clip for ABC’s new cross-dressing comedy Work It, Lee justified his decision to pick up the show with, “So sue me, I’m a Brit,” segueing to “Talking about cross-dressing, here’s Jimmy Kimmel.”
Kimmel was his usual irreverent self. Here are some of his top barbs:
ABC Unveils 2011-12 Primetime Schedule
We may have the first head-to-head faceoff of two-hour comedy blocks in years this spring. ABC, which is launching a new Tuesday 8-9 PM comedy block with the Tim Allen starrer Last Man Standing and Chris Moynihan’s Man Up, leading into the Dancing With the Stars result show, plans to extend the block to two hours between the two cycles of Dancing, ABC Entertainment Group president Paul Lee announced at a press conference this morning. In what could be dubbed “men vs. women,” the two comedies with male leads will be followed by Courteney Cox’s Cougar Town and freshman Apartment 23 starring Krysten Ritter. Fox, of course, already has a 8-10 PM comedy block anchored by Glee at 8 PM and announced yesterday that it will convert it into a four-show block in March when Glee goes on hiatus. Since Dancing usually returns at the end of March, there is a good chance for the two four-comedy blocks to go toe to toe for a couple of weeks, a return to the old times when comedy ruled primetime with blocks on virtually every night of the week.
Home Improvement star Tim Allen is returning to ABC’s primetime, and the network will use his star power to launch a new comedy block. As we predicted, the network is opening up a 8-10 PM comedy block on Tuesday, with Allen’s comedy Last Man Standing anchoring it. ABC will be launching roughly half of its 13 new scripted series in the fall, including Charlie’s Angels, which has been given the tough task to open Thursday night. The network proved it was serious about Happy Endings, giving the modestly rated midseason series its prime comedy slot after Modern Family. Also noteworthy: 1960s soap Pan Am landed the post-Desperate Housewives slot, and ABC opted to go scripted in the Sunday 8 PM slot long occupied by Extreme Makeover: Home Edition with new fantasy series Once Upon a Time. ABC’s top series, Dancing With the Stars, Grey’s Anatomy and Desperate Housewives are staying put. Held for midseason are high-profile new entries Good Christian Belles and The River as well as returning comedy Cougar Town. All fall series have received traditional 13-episode orders, while the size of the orders for most midseason shows have not been determined. Here is ABC’s release with the fall schedule:
New ABC series for the 2011-12 season are “Apartment 23,” “Charlie’s Angels,” “Good Christian Belles,” “Last Man Standing,” “Man Up,” “Missing,” “Once Upon a Time,” “Pan Am,” “Revenge,” “The River,” “Scandal,” “Suburgatory” and “Work It.”
“America’s Funniest Home Videos,” “The Bachelor,” “Body of Proof,” “Dancing with the Stars,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” “Happy Endings,” “Secret Millionaire,” “Shark Tank” and “20/20” join previously announced returning series “Castle,” “Cougar Town,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “The Middle,” “Modern Family” and “Private Practice.” “Saturday Night College Football” also returns.
ABC’s fall primetime schedule is as follows; new shows are in bold:
8:00 p.m. “Dancing with the Stars”
10:00 p.m. “Castle”
8:00 p.m. “Last Man Standing”
8:30 p.m. “Man Up”
9:00 p.m. “Dancing with the Stars the Results Show”
10:00 p.m. “Body of Proof”
8:00 p.m. “The Middle”
8:30 p.m. “Suburgatory”
9:00 p.m. “Modern Family”
9:30 p.m. “Happy Endings”
10:00 p.m. “Revenge”
8:00 p.m. “Charlie’s Angels”
9:00 p.m. “Grey’s Anatomy”
10:00 p.m. “Private Practice”
8:00 p.m. “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”
9:00 p.m. “Shark Tank”
10:00 p.m. “20/20”
8:00 p.m. “Saturday Night College Football”
7:00 p.m. “America’s Funniest Home Videos”
8:00 p.m. “Once Upon a Time”
9:00 p.m. “Desperate Housewives”
10:00 p.m. “Pan Am”
NEW FALL AND MIDSEASON SERIES:
EXCLUSIVE: Paramount has just closed a deal to purchase the LAST MAN STANDING and develop it as a multiplatform franchise property. The hugely sought-after graphic novel from Heavy Metal publishing was the sensation of this past Comic-Con when it debuted. Marc Evans, President of Production for Paramount, played a major role in bringing this into the studio. Scott Aversano will produce with Daniel LuVisi, the artist and creator of the graphic novel. The project will be executive produced by Stephan Lokotsch, Russell Binder, and Peter Levin. The novel will be expanded into a comic book by Kevin Eastman’s Heavy Metal publishing label. Attorney Craig Jacobson made the deal. The graphic novel which was 2 1/2 years in the making and sold out within 2 hours will be expanded into a comic book series for Kevin Eastman’s Heavy Metal publishing.
Dan LuVisi told my pal Peter Levin’s Geek Chic Daily that Last Man Standing, or “LMS”, “takes place 600 years in the future, in an alternate universe and is about Gabriel, this invincible soldier, who’s been created to help win a war Earth got itself too deep into with Mars. After Gabe wins the war, he comes back down to Earth and is celebrated as this incredible hero. From there, he becomes somewhat of a celebrity, a Superman of this story, but then it all takes a quick turn. Gabriel is framed for an atrocious crime,