Mark Roberts, the creator of Mike & Molly, will be leaving the CBS comedy series, which was recently renewed for a fourth season. Roberts “will be stepping down from his showrunner and executive producer roles after three successful seasons to focus on other projects,” Mike & Molly producer Warner Bros. TV said in a statement to Deadline. “Al Higgins, currently co-executive producer of Mike & Molly, has been named executive producer and will serve as day-to-day showrunner of the comedy for its upcoming fourth season.” The studio would not comment on the reasons for the change, however there has been speculation for months that the show’s cast and crew were not happy with Roberts. Veteran comedy writer-producer Higgins has been on Mike & Molly since after the pilot. His previous series credits include NewsRadio and Malcolm In The Middle. On Mike & Molly, he will serve as executive producer alongside Chuck Lorre, who has four series on the air and has not been really involved with Mike & Molly this past season. The comedy starring Melissa McCarthy and Billy Gardell will have some time to accommodate the showrunner transition as it is slated for midseason.
UPDATE: TBS Lands ’2 Broke Girls’ Off-Net Rights For Record $1.7 Million; CBS Stations Pick Up ’2 Broke Girls’ And ‘Mike & Molly’
UPDATED: A week after the deadline for bids on Warner Bros. comedy series 2 Broke Girls, the hot CBS freshman has found a buyer in TBS in a deal that sources said is setting a new cable record for an off-network sale. I hear the license fee is a record-setting $1.7 million per episode, eclipsing the previous record of $1.5 million an episode set by The Big Bang Theory, which also went to TBS. (Modern Family was sold for close to that to USA in 2010.) Additionally, CBS TV Stations has acquired both 2 Broke Girls and the other comedy series Warner Bros has been shopping, sophomore Mike & Molly, for debuts in 2015 and 2014, respectively. Final cable bids for Mike & Molly are due tonight, with a sale expected next week. Warner Bros. TV Distribution took out 2 Broke Girls and Mike & Molly early in part to secure station sales before another multi-camera sitcom, Charlie Sheen’s Anger Management, hits the marketplace. The latter has been aggressively promoting its availability to stations in face of competition from 2 Broke Girls and Mike & Molly.
The high price for 2 Broke Girls at TBS stems from the scarcity of marquee multi-camera sitcoms for basic cable networks to acquire. TBS, a sibling of Warner Bros, is riding high on the ratings success of another young-skewing CBS/Warner Bros off-network comedy acquisition, The Big Bang Theory, the No. 1 sitcom on basic cable, and word is the network was very aggressive in pursuing 2 Broke Girls, which was put on the market after only one season. It will join TBS’ lineup in 2015. “When 2 Broke Girls premiered last fall, it immediately found its audience and appeared to us to be a perfect fit for TBS,” said TNT and TBS programming head Michael Wright. “We believe 2 Broke Girls is poised to enjoy a long, successful run, and we look forward to adding it to the TBS lineup.”
Chuck Lorre has experienced the lows and highs of network TV situation comedies, from the challenging situation with Grace Under Fire (1993-98) and Cybill (1995-98) to his current status as co-creator and driving force behind a trio of CBS comedies: Two And A Half Men, The Big Bang Theory and Mike & Molly. It doesn’t sound like it’s gone according to any kind of plan, and in fact that’s the case, as the sometimes fiery, always funny, veteran showrunner makes clear. If he deserves at least a humanitarian Emmy for surviving the ordeal of Two And A Half Men star Charlie Sheen’s three-and-a-half men meltdown the previous season, he’s been in the game long enough not to expect much.
AWARDSLINE: Let’s start with Two And A Half Men. Why was it important to you to keep it on the air even after part of that eighth season got scratched?
CHUCK LORRE: It wasn’t simply my decision. There were a lot of people involved and so forth. Including, you know, you’ve got Warner Bros. who had a great deal with it, economically, at stake. But by and large there was a family of people that had worked together for eight years and a lot of people were counting on the show continuing for a number of reasons. One was it was a livelihood for a lot of people and we had a great time on it and had a lot of fun doing the show all the time.
Deadline’s Diane Haithman and Ray Richmond were backstage at the Primetime Emmy Awards tonight to hear what the winners had to say.
Julie Bowen and Ty Burrell came backstage together after winning the awards for Outstanding Supporting Actress and Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series. The Modern Family stars were asked first about being part of a show that is breaking ground for gays. Burrell said, “I don’t know, in terms of America, it feels very, very good to be on a show that seems like it’s slowly changing a lot of minds. Eric [Stonestreet] and Jesse [Tyler Ferguson] deserve all of the credit for that, and our amazing showrunners. It’s a great thing to just peripherally go to events and just basically start to talk about those characters like any other characters, relating to their life — it’s pretty cool.” Bowen joked, “As a straight woman, and part of a straight couple on the show, I feel marginalized.” On a more serious note, she added: “It’s absurd that it’s even an issue, but where it’s an issue, I’m glad that we are part of helping change minds.” Using the word “straight” in a different context, Burrell praised Bowen: “It’s even greater credit to what Julie does that the straight-person wins an Emmy, I don’t think that happens very often. In a couple there’s usually a straight-man and a wilder character. It’s due to her resourcefulness as an actor.” On going back to the set with an Emmy when other cast members were also nominated, Burrell said: “Eric won last year, and Ed [O'Neill] actually just said something really sweet right before the award, ‘whoever wins deserves it.’ I feel like we’re trying to enjoy this moment more than anything — we know this doesn’t last forever; we’re having a lot of fun.” Bowen said about her surprise win, “I kinda thought it was a lock on Betty White. If I didn’t have a dog in this fight, and I had two, I would have voted for Betty White. Claire is not necessarily fall-down funny every time.” She credits the writers for having found ways to make her character have many dimensions and “not just be the mom.” …
Later, Steve Levitan and Jeffrey Richman, winners for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series, were asked how it feels for Modern Family to be sweeping the awards so far, with wins in every category they’ve been eligible for. Levitan: “We’re beyond thrilled with the way things have gone, obviously. It’s an embarrassment of riches, and from the bottom of our hearts we feel that Ty Burrell and Julie Bowen deserved to win. (Outstanding Director in a Comedy Series winner) Michael Alan Spiller, not so much. To tell you the truth, it’s a little surreal.” They were then asked what they did to ramp up the stories and quality of Modern Family in Season 2. Levitan: “We feel like we know the characters a little bit better this year. There was such dedication this year to keeping the quality up. We all live in fear of the quality dipping so we work extra hard to make sure that doesn’t happen. … I’ll also tell you that our kids are the unsung heroes of the show. What they do on this show is amazing. We ask them to do such complicated turns and they nail it constantly. They’re playing at the same level as the adults and that’s a rare thing.” …