Maybe the release yesterday of Brooklyn Decker‘s naked Funny or Die spoof with her Friends With Better Lives co-stars Zoe Lister-Jones and Majandra Delfino helped — the midseason CBS comedy got a 12% ratings bump last night to a 1.9 adults 18-49 rating as FWBL and fellow recent CBS addition Bad Teacher have this and next week to make their case for renewal. Also up double digits from last week was FWBL lead-out Mike & Molly (2.2, up 16%), which featured the return of guest star Susan Sarandon. Completing the “up” night for CBS’ Monday originals was 8 PM anchor 2 Broke Girls (2.2), which grew a tenth. (The network aired The Big Bang Theory and Person Of Interest reruns at 9:30 PM and 10 PM, respectively.)
EXCLUSIVE: Actor-comedian Billy Gardell, the male lead of CBS’ comedy Mike & Molly, has signed with UTA after a two-year stint at CAA. The Chuck Lorre comedy, now in its fourth season, serves as a 9 PM anchor of CBS’ Monday comedy block. In addition to his starring role on the show opposite Melissa McCarthy, Gardell has a lucrative seven-figure comedy touring business and is looking to expand into writing, having recently sold a script to CBS. Gardell also recently shot a comedy special and will next be seen in Clint Eastwood’s Jersey Boys.
CBS Makes Monday Changes: ‘We Are Men’ Cancelled, ‘Mike & Molly’ Slotted At 9 PM, ‘2 Broke Girls’ Moved To 8:30 PM
CBS is stepping in to try to right the Monday ship, which has been destabilized by lackluster performances from most of the network’s new shows. For starters, flailing freshman We Are Men is being pulled after two airings. The half-hour vacancy will be filled by Mike & Molly, which will rejoin the Monday lineup on November 4, anchoring the second hour at 9 PM with its fourth season. The slot’s current occupant, 2 Broke Girls, will slide to 8:30 PM, replacing Men, as of next Monday, with two repeats of The Big Bang Theory and another program airing at 9 PM until Mike & Molly comes on. For now, there are no changes planned at 10 PM where new drama Hostages has flopped, dropping to a 1.2 Live+Same Day rating in its third airing this week. The network brass want to wait for Live+7 numbers on the heavily serialized drama — it received a 50% Live+3 lift in Premiere Week (that dropped to 40% in Week 2) — before making a decision. Additionally, they want to see if improving the 8-10 PM portion of the Monday lineup would help Hostages in any way. The single-camera We Are Men simply didn’t work. CBS put it behind How I Met Your Mother because of pilot testing that showed Men had a younger …
Warner Bros has set Oscar winner Susan Sarandon (Dead Man Walking) to guest in an upcoming episode of Mike & Molly. She’ll play JC Small, a literary icon and Molly’s idol, described as part JD Salinger with a touch of William Faulkner and a sprinkle of Gore Vidal with a beautiful mind and tortured soul. The famed novelist gives Molly a lesson in writing that neither she nor her family are soon to forget. Mike & Molly, starring Melissa McCarthy, Billy Gardell, Katie Mixon, Swoosie Kurtz and Reno Wilson, returns midseason on CBS. Sarandon is repped by ICM Partners.
CBS has pulled tonight’s Mike & Molly third-season finale out of sensitivity to the victims of the devastating tornado in Oklahoma. Titled Windy City, the season finale features Mike and Molly confessing important news to each other as a tornado descends on Chicago. The episode will be replaced by a rerun tonight and broadcast at a later time. Mike & Molly is not on the fall schedule but has been picked up for a 22-episode fourth season.
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.
WEDNESDAY 12:30 AM UPDATE: Insiders tell Deadline that FX as recently as last week wasn’t even going after the off-network cable syndication rights to the CBS comedy Mike & Molly from Warner Bros Domestic Television Distribution. “We were not in the bidding and had no intention to be, based on how crazy-high pricing on sitcoms has been lately,” an executive explains. Conventional wisdom in the syndication community had the sitcom going to TBS in yet another Time Warner synergistic deal. But now the sitcom will debut on FX in September 2014, and the network has cable syndication exclusivity and the ability to air the series in all dayparts. Mike & Molly now joins fellow comedies Two And A Half Men and How I Met Your Mother on the FX roster. So what happened? The bargain basement price.
According to sources, the license fee is under $1 million an episode, with insiders detailing that it sold for as low as $750,000 an episode. ”We came into the bidding at the very end of last week when we got a sense of where the marketplace was,” one executive explains to Deadline. “We felt that this was a very good show that was going to go for a reasonable price and could not resist the value proposition.” Indeed, the price for Mike & Molly looked like pennies compared to the record-setting …
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.
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
Melissa McCarthy continued to deny that there is any plan at present to go ahead with a film sequel to the feature smash Bridesmaids without co-star and co-writer Kristen Wiig. Appearing in Pasadena at TCA during a session promoting the CBS comedy Mike & Molly, McCarthy said of going forward without Wiig: “That seems like a terrible idea. I don’t know anything about it. But I mean, I would do anything with those ladies (from the film). If it’s a weird play in a backyard, I would do it. Bad blood? Oh no. Not at all.” She went on to comment regarding any Universal plan not involving Wiig, “I don’t think that they are. I don’t think that’s factual in any way.”