ABC dominated every half-hour of primetime last night with The Bachelorette (2.6/8), up 18% from last Monday, which was Memorial Day, and Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition (2.2/8), down 8% from its Memorial Day premiere. ABC won the night in both adults 18-49 (2.4/7) and total viewers (7.2 million). The season premiere of Fox’s MasterChef (1.8/6) at 8 PM was down 33% from its summer debut last season. Accounting for some of the drop is the fact that last year’s premiere aired in late July, when TV usage is higher with a solid lead-in from Hell’s Kitchen. The cooking reality show was followed by a House repeat (1.2/3). NBC was the only English-language network to offer first-run programming last night, a new episode of canceled drama Law & Order: LA (1.3/3) at 10 PM, down 13% from last Monday. It was preceded by Law & Order: CI, which was down 10%. Leading the all-rerun CBS lineup was Two and a Half Men with Charlie Sheen, which scored the highest demo rating, 1.6/4.
There was chatter at NBC’s upfront presentation that isolated 2011-12 NBC Primetime Preview press binders included a page for Wonder Woman as a new series. Everything was fine in the New Series section of the NBC binder I found waiting for me when I came back from New York, but the Returning Series section included two intriguing entries: freshman drama Law & Order: Los Angeles and comedy Outsourced. Both were canceled last Friday, so their glossy pages, accidentally included by the fulfillment house contracted for the binders, provide an eerie peek into what could have been. “Fusing the classic ripped-from-the-headlines storytelling with the distinctive backdrop of LA, the newest addition to the Law & Order franchise is back to delve further into the unique attitudes, cultures and crimes of the West Coast,” is the opening line in the LOLA profile. Outsourced‘s writeup provides a glimpse at some of the producers’ ideas for the now-scrapped Season 2 of the workplace comedy. “After surviving his first year managing the call center in India, Todd’s ready for some bigger challenges — should he try to make his relationship with Asha a bit more than work-related? Is his team ready for a trip to America for training and some good ol’ USA traditions like beer pong?” We’ll never know …
It’s one and out for NBC’s latest Law & Order spinoff. I hear the network just canceled Law & Order: Los Angeles. It is hard to imagine what more NBC could do with the series. After a slow start, the network put the series on hiatus. Dick Wolf did a complete overhaul, bumping up Alfred Molina and Terrence Howard, letting go of several cast members, including Skeet Ulrich, and bringing in Law & Order veteran Alana De La Garza. But after a wide marketing campaign, the crime drama relaunched to ratings that were lower than the unimpressive numbers for its original run. LOLA did get a second chance at a complete reboot, something very few shows get. Its demise underscores the fact that, while dreaded and sometimes outrageously expensive, TV pilots serve a purpose. LOLA was hastily picked up straight-to-series as NBC canceled the mothership Law & Order series last May. The show tried to make amends midstream, but that is hard to do that after a poor launch.
It was another sad Monday ratings performance for NBC, which hit another season low on the night with all original programming. Chuck (1.3/4) was even with last week, tying its series low. But it also delivered NBC’s highest demo rating last night. The Event (1.1/3) was down 13% from its last original two weeks ago for a series low. And the relaunch of Law & Order: Los Angeles continues to sputter. In its second week since the series’ return last Monday, the Law & Order spinoff drew a 1.1/3, down a steep 27% from the two-hour midseason premiere last week. Such an underwhelming performance bodes well for David E. Kelley’s Harry’s Law, which did better in the slot earlier this midseason.
ABC’s Dancing With the Stars performance show (3.9/11) was down 13% from last week to rank as the lowest-rated spring performance telecast ever for the venerable reality franchise. In its special airing after Dancing, a new Cougar Town (2.3/6) was down 15% from its last original Feb. 2. Proving that comedy series do better in a block, even with a weaker lead-in, that last original followed a Modern Family repeat. The first of a slew of specials about the upcoming Royal Wedding, ABC News: William & Catherine: A Modern Fairytale, averaged a 1.7/4 at 10 PM.
Dick Wolf has said that, after the creative revamp of Law & Order: Los Angeles, it will more closely resemble the mothership Law & Order series. And now LOLA is doing exactly what L&O famously did – take a big local crime story and do a fictional version of it. An upcoming episode of the spinoff, which is now filming, features a storyline clearly inspired by the recent murder of top Hollywood publicist Ronni Chasen. In the episode, entitled Benedict Canyon, a famous Hollywood stylist is murdered in what initially appears a random robbery gone bad. But, while in the case of Chasen the investigation ruled the murder just that – the result of a random robbery – the case on LOLA takes multiple turns and gets more sinister as dark family secrets are revealed.
Meanwhile, eagle-eyed viewers probably noticed that in the new NBC promos for the April 11 return of LOLA, the title of the show is listed as Law & Order: LA. Along with the show, its title is getting a makeover too – it is being shortened from the original Law & Order: Los Angeles.
Retooled freshman drama Law & Order: Los Angeles will return to the schedule with a two-hour episode on Monday, April 11 and will move to its regular Monday 10 PM time period the following week. “We are pleased to welcome Law & Order: Los Angeles back to NBC’s regular lineup,” NBC’s chairman Bob Greenblatt said. “Dick Wolf and his team have made some exciting creative changes and we can’t wait to re-introduce the show to audiences.”
LOLA will see Alfred Molina in his new role as Detectives Ricardo Morales, partnered with Tomas “TJ” Jaruszalski (Corey Stoll) as they pursue cases through the diverse City of Angels. As part of the creative overhaul of the show, which included the departure of 3 regulars, including Skeet Ulrich, Alana de la Garza, veteran of the mothership Law & Order series, is joining the series, reprising her role as Deputy District Attorney Connie Rubirosa. Staying put is Terrence Howard as Deputy District Attorney Jonah “Joe” Dekker.
Earlier this season, LOLA averaged a 2.5/7 in adults 18-49 and 9.0 million viewers overall. The show launched to some gripes from die-hard Law & Order fans that the newest installment has strayed from what made the first 3 Law & Order series work. In the new incarnation of LOLA, the producers are addressing that, making the series closer in feel to the others, darker and less “blue sky” than its original run in the fall.
L&O creator …
EXCLUSIVE: Earlier this afternoon, we broke the news about the ongoing creative overhaul of NBC’s Law & Order: Los Angeles that has led to the departure of two regulars, Regina Hall and Megan Boone, who play DDAs on the Law & Order spinoff. They have now been joined by Skeet Ulrich, the first actor to be cast on LOLA back in July, who will also be leaving the series as part of the the creative revamp. Ulrich plays Detective Rex Winters, one of the two cops on the Wolf Films/UMS-produced police-legal drama. I hear that Law & Order chief Dick Wolf, who has also tweaked his other Law & Order series during their first seasons, will make the changes on LOLA on the fly, without stopping production on the show that is now filming Episode 12.
EXCLUSIVE: Alfred Molina and Terrence Howard are getting a boss — veteran actor Peter Coyote has joined the cast of NBC’s new crime drama Law & Order: Los Angeles as the District Attorney. On the Wolf Films/UMS’ series, Coyote will supervise DAs Peter Morales (Molina) and Jonah “Joe” Dekker (Howard). The Law & Order spinoff premieres on September 29th. It also co-stars Skeet Ulrich, Corey Stoll, Megan Boone, Regina Hall and Rachel Ticotin. Coyote most recently recurred as the U.S. President on ABC’s FlashForward last season.
Meanwhile, Will Yun Lee will be recurring on another freshman drama, Hawaii Five-0, after gust starring in the pilot. On the reboot, which debuts on Monday, APA-repped Lee will reprise his role in the pilot as outlaw Sang Min.