After so many duds this season, you start to root for a new ABC show to open. Upcoming drama Resurrection now remains the network’s last and only hope after back-to-back disappointments from the launches of drama Mind Games and comedy Mixology this week. Last night’s debut of Mixology (1.8 in adults 18-49) ranked as ABC’s lowest-rated comedy premiere this season and the third lowest overall for a Monday-Thursday comedy, only behind NBC’s now defunct Welcome To The Family (1.1) and Sean Saves The World (1.4). And that’s with one of the best comedy lead-ins on television, Modern Family, marking the lowest-rated debut following ABC’s flagship comedy. Yes, Modern Family is not the ratings powerhouse it used to be, with last night’s episode (3.1) down 11% from the last original to a season low. But still, Mixology‘s premiere rating was down a big 38% from the short-lived How To Live With Your Parents that premiered behind Modern Family last spring. The rest of ABC’s series also were down from their pre-Olympics originals. The Middle (1.8) was down 18%, Suburgatory (1.5) down 12% and Nashville (1.2) down 8%, all tying season lows.
With the February 26 premiere of ABC’s new comedy Mixology, executive producer Ryan Seacrest makes his first foray into scripted series. At today’s TCA, Seacrest denied that this move into scripted foreshadows the death of reality TV.
“Not anytime soon,” Seacrest said, appearing on the panel with EPs John Lucas and Scott Moore (feature scribes new to TV) and the cast of 10 regulars. “I’m reading about Kim Kardashian every day.”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” an audience member responded.
“It’s my pleasure. Look, you asked,” Seacrest joked back. But he acknowledged that his production company “has a balance slate, we do produce a lot of unscripted . . . [but] we hope to achieve balance.”
Set in a Manhattan bar, the 13 episodes will track one night in the lives of five young men and 15 young women looking for love. Lucas and Moore said that while the season arc takes place over a single evening, the audience will come to know the characters through flashbacks in the style of Lost. (After the session, Moore declined to say whether a second season of the show would bring in an entirely new set of characters.)
ABC has firmed up its midseason scheduling plans. With Super Fun Night only getting a Back 4 order, the network will try out another new comedy series, Mixology, in the Wednesday 9:30 PM slot behind Modern Family. The high-concept series, which takes place at a bar over the course of one night and features a 10-member core cast, will premiere on February 26. ABC previously used flagship Modern Family to launch another single-camera young ensemble comedy, Happy Endings, which recently ended its run. Meanwhile, Suburgatory will return to its original Tuesday 8:30 PM slot where it was so successful in its first season, launching Season 3 on January 15 to succeed departing Back In The Game.
ABC is making changes to some previously announced midseason moves. Once Upon A Time and Revenge are still slated to return from their winter hiatuses on March 9, joined by new drama Resurrection. But Revenge will move to 10 PM, with Resurrection taking over its 9 PM slot. With its supernatural theme (Resurrection is about deceased loved ones returning to a small town), it is considered a better fit for dark-ish fairytale drama Once than the glitzy soap Revenge. On Thursday, ABC was to launch adventure reality series The Quest, from The Amazing Race creators, on January 2. The competition has now been pushed to summer, with cooking reality series The Taste and CIA drama The Assets taking over Thursday night while Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal are on hiatus, returning on February 27. In another tweak, Nashville — originally slated to go on hiatus like Once, Grey’s and Scandal under ABC’s newly adopted split-season model before returning on February 26 — will now stay on, airing a total of four originals in January and February. I hear ABC brass felt that maybe they were taking too many dramas off, and Nashville‘s strong DVR following could help it through repeats. Of the freshman dramas, Betrayal will have aired its entire limited-run first season before it goes off the air, while Once Upon A Time In Wonderland will air its fall finale on Dec. 12 and will return with a few more originals in the spring. New procedurals Killer Women and Mind Games will split the Tuesday 10 PM slot previously occupied by cancelled drama Lucky 7. Here are ABC’s new mideason premiere dates, followed by descriptions of the new series:
EXCLUSIVE: Actress Mercedes Masohn is leaving ABC’s comedy pilot Mixology. The project, written by feature scribes Jon Lucas and Scott Moore (The Hangover) in their pilot debut, and directed by Larry Charles, is an ambitious high-concept effort featuring 10 lead characters. Set in the world of a sexy Manhattan bar, Mixology chronicles the exploits of singles, five guys and five girls, in search of love — all over the course of one night. Masohn was to play one of them, Maya. She was one of the first actors cast in the project more than a month ago while Charles’ deal was still being finalized and Nina Wass was just joining as non-writing executive producer. Nine other regulars have been cast since Masohn came on board and Lucas and Moore, with input from Charles and Wass, have tweaked some elements of the pilot, including the Maya character. “Masohn is an incredible talent with comedy chops and has been very accommodating and understanding with us, and we plan to be working with her again soon,” the Mixology producers said in a statement.
Sarah Bolger extending her relationship with ABC with a lead role in the network’s single-camera comedy Mixology, directed by Larry Charles from a script by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore. Set in the world of a sexy Manhattan bar, Mixology, from ABC Studios, chronicles the exploits of singles, five guys and five girls, in search of love — all over the course of one night. Bolger will play one of them, Janey, Jessica’s (Alexis Carra) sweet, naive, little sister from New Jersey. Tonight is her big night in the city and she is woefully unprepared for the aggressive Manhattan dating scene. CAA-repped Bolger recurs on ABC/ABC Studios’ Once Upon A Time as Princess Aurora last season starred in their Shonda Rhimes-produced pilot Gilded Lilys. The Tudors alumna toplines two indies that are yet to come out, Crush and Kiss Me.
Mark Hildreth has joined another ABC/ABC Studios pilot, drama The Returned, from Brillstein Entertainment, Brad Pitt’s Plan B and ABC Studios. Written by Aaron Zelman and directed by Charles McDougall, the project chronicles how the lives of the people in Arcadia are forever changed when their deceased loved ones return. Hildreth, repped by Untitled and SMS, will play Preacher Tom Hild, the local minister, who starts to question his beliefs when the dead start coming back.
EXCLUSIVE: Kate Simses (What’s Your Number) has landed a regular role in ABC‘s single-camera comedy pilot Mixology, from feature writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore (The Hangover, The Change-Up) and ABC Studios. I’ve also learned that Ryan Seacrest’s production company is boarding the project as a pod. Shepherding the pilot from Ryan Seacrest Prods will be veteran TV comedy producer Nina Wass, who joined the company as head of scripted in August. Wass has a long history at ABC Studios — she spent eight years there partnered with Gene Stein. I hear ABC Studios has been adding experienced TV producers to several of its newly picked-up pilots, including studio-based Matthew Gross (Body Of Proof), who is joining drama Murder In Manhattan.
EXCLUSIVE: In a competitive situation with multiple networks bidding, ABC has snagged Mixology, a comedy spec by Hangover writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, with a put pilot commitment. The project, which has been laid off at ABC Studios, marks feature scribes Lucas and Moore’s first foray into television. In the vein of the writing duo’s blockbuster Hangover, which chronicled the misadventures of three guys over one weekend, Mixology follows five guys and five girls trying to find love at a trendy Manhattan bar across the course of one night. Lucas and Moore serve as executive producers.