UPDATED: Comedy writers Alex Barnow and Marc Firek are staying at Sony TV but no longer exclusively as a writing team. The Mr. Sunshine co-creators have closed their first individual two-year overall deals with the studio after four consecutive overall pacts there as a duo. They still intend to work together but will also develop on their own. Barnow and Firek had been a team since meeting at a backyard barbecue/political fundraiser 15 years ago. A gig on the Sony TV-produced comedy ‘Til Death led to their first overall deal with the studio. They have been at Sony ever since. Barnow and Firek worked on the studio’s CBS comedy series Rules Of Engagement before they co-created with star Matthew Perry Mr. Sunshine. The two, repped by UTA and Hansen Jacobson, are currently executive producers/writers on Sony TV’s ABC comedy The Goldbergs, which is returning for a second season.
In Other News: ‘Body Of Proof’ Picked Up, ‘Better With You’, ‘Mr. Sunshine’, ‘No Ordinary Family’, ‘Off The Map’ ‘Outsourced’ Dead
UPDATED: Pickup news flashes are flying fast and furious today, so some have fallen through the cracks as I try to stay afloat. Here are some notable renewal/cancellations: As expected, Body of Proof became the second ABC freshman series after Happy Endings to make the cut for a second season. Better With You, Off the Map, No Ordinary Family and Mr. Sunshine are canceled. Also dead is NBC’s freshman comedy Outsourced.
Last night, the series premiere of Breaking In drew a 3.5/9 in adults 18-49 and 9.9 million viewers to rank as the highest-rated Fox live-action comedy telecast in over 3 years in 18-49 and total viewers and log the best lead-in retention for a sitcom airing after American Idol in 4 years, since ‘Til Death on Apr. 4, 2007. The Christian Slater-starring Breaking In also outperformed the two other freshman comedies Fox tried out behind Idol this spring, Raising Hope (by 6%) and Traffic Light (by 25%).
The solid premiere numbers are a nice validation for pilot testing as Breaking In scored the highest marks of all Fox pilots last season. Props to Sony TV, which didn’t give up after Fox passed on the pilot and extended the options on the entire cast, to Fox for eventually reversing its decision and giving Breaking In a second chance, to Slater for trying a comedy after his two disastrous drama turns in My Own Worst Enemy and The Forgotten and to his adorable daughter who made his pimping of the Breaking In premiere on American Idol last night far less awkward than other similar cross-promotions on the reality hit. As for the 90-minute Idol (7.1, 22.5 million), it was down …
With a two-hour American Idol (7.4/21 in adults 18-49, 24.9 million viewers), Fox easily won last night in 18-49 and total viewers. Versus last Wednesday’s performance show, Idol was down 9% in the demo. (All week-to-week comparisons this week are probably affected by the switch to daylight saving time. TV use in the 8-10 slot last night was down 4% from last week.) Compared with the comparable telecast last year, Idol was down also 9% in 18-49.
The time shift also likely impacted the rest of the 8 PM shows last night. CBS’ Survivor: Redemption Island (3.1/10) was down a tenth from last week for a new series low; NBC’s Minute to Win It (0.9/3) was down 10%, also for a series low; and the CW’s America’s Next Top Model (0.8/3) was down 27%. (ABC aired comedy repeats in the 8 PM hour.)
CBS’ Criminal Minds (3.6/10) was flat with its most recent original two weeks ago, while its spinoff Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior (2.6/7) shot up 18% with an original Minds as a lead-in versus a repeat last week. Following a Modern Family repeat, midseason ABC comedy Mr. Sunshine (1.8/5) was flat with last week and tied a series low. Ditto for midseason drama Off the Map (1.4/4) at 10 PM. NBC aired Law & Order: SVU repeats at 9 PM and 10 PM.
This trend of comedies at 10 PM seems to be catching on quickly at the broadcast networks. Right after NBC announced that it will expand its 8-10 PM Thursday comedy block to 11 PM in midseason, ABC is doing the same with its Wednesday 8-10 PM comedy block. Beginning April 13, the network will air midseason comedy Happy Endings at 10 PM, followed by Modern Family reruns branded as “fan favorites” at 10:30 PM.
ABC will start warming up the Wednesday 10 PM slot with comedies this month by pulling canceled legal drama The Whole Truth earlier than previously planned and replacing it with Modern Family and Cougar Town repeats. Before that, from February 9 through April 6, ABC’s other midseason comedy, Mr. Sunshine, will take over the network’s plum post-Modern Family slot at 9:30 PM to give the Matthew Perry-starring comedy the best possible launching pad. One Friends alum, Courteney Cox, will make room for another, Perry, as Cougar Town, which airs in the 9:30 PM time period, will go on hiatus, returning on April 13. With the time off, Cougar Town now has 20 of its 22 episodes scheduled, with the remaining 2 expected to get a berth too, either replacing a Cougar Town rerun or in a different spot on the schedule. As previously announced, anchoring the Wednesday lineup at 10 PM from Feb. 9 through April 6 will be the new medical drama Off the Map. With …
Lizzy Caplan is back in business with Sony TV and studio-based producer Jamie Tarses – she has signed on for a guest shot on their new ABC series Mr. Sunshine starring Matthew Perry. Caplan famously stepped in at the last minute to play a lead on the Sony/Tarses pilot for CBS Mad Love as a guest star and helped the pilot score a midseason order but she also caused a holdup in the deal as the network and the studio first tried to persuade her to stay on and then had to find a replacement when she declined. (Judy Greer was eventually cast in the role.) Mr. Sunshine stars Perry as Ben Donovan, the sports arena manager for the Sunshine Center, a second-tier arena in San Diego. Caplan will play a woman with whom Ben has a romantic interlude and then is surprised to see her showing up at work the next morning … as his boss’ (Allison Janney) new assistant. Caplan joins other recently booked guest stars on the show, including Nick Jonas, Jimmy Connors, James Taylor and Jorge Garcia. Caplan, who recently starred on Straz’s comedy Party Down, is developing a comedy at HBO with Will Ferrell and Adam McKay. The project, based on Julie Klausner’s memoir I Don’t Care About Your Band, which is eyed as a potential starring vehicle for Caplan.
Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
At ABC’s TCA panel on his new show Mr. Sunshine, which he stars in, executive produces, and co-writes, Matthew Perry was in fine form. He was sardonic about everything, even his own well-publicized problems with Vicodin addiction in the mid-1990s that made him something less than a Mr. Sunshine. Perry made clear that his character, Ben Donovan, who’s the manager of a second-tier sports arena in San Diego and in Perry’s words a “selfish jerk, was not-so-loosely based on himself. “The reason that my character has only thought about himself is I knew somebody for whom that was the case for a long time.. I’m much nicer now.” Perry, now 40, was asked whether anything specific changed him for the better. “I would say if you want to find out the answer to that, just pick up any newspaper from 1996 or look at any magazine cover.” Perry cracked. “They say, hey, write what you know. I knew if I wrote something, I would like that to be a component of it.”