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Upfronts: Advertisers Intrigued By ‘Smash’ And ‘Prime Suspect’ But Question Sitcoms

Upfronts: It’s All About Ads & The Economy

Advertisers like NBC’s and Fox’s decisions to add comedies to their fall lineups but say the clips shown to them today don’t show enough to suggest whether any will become hits. ”Comedies are the hardest thing to do,” says Gary Carr of Targetcast. Even 30 Rock, a survivor on the NBC schedule, ”goes over most people’s heads. It’s not doing that well.” One advertiser says that “what you see today (at the upfront presentations) is not necessarily going to be there (on the shows) in the fall.” Still, comedies are big this year because Modern Family demonstrated that they can get young people, and they repeat well. The two shows getting the most attention are NBC’s musical Smash and the network’s remake of the British hit Prime Suspect. “It made a star out of Helen Mirren,” Horizon Media’s Brad Adgate says.

At Fox, advertisers wonder whether there’ll be talent-contest overkill by airing Simon Cowell’s new The X Factor in the fall, followed by American Idol in the winter. “At some point it’s too much,” says Lyle Schwartz of GroupM. Buyers also aren’t sure yet whether Fox will attract much interest for its offer to sell ads that would run on a show when it airs on TV as well as across digital platforms such as Hulu. Although it “sounds good in theory,” one advertiser says, it may simply be “a … Read More »

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PILOT CASTINGS: NBC’s ‘Smash’, Fox’s ‘I Hate My Teenage Daughter’ Find Leads

Nellie Andreeva

Broadway actor Christian Borle has landed the male lead opposite Debra Messing in NBC’s Broadway-themed pilot Smash, which is based on an idea by Steven Spielberg. The pilot, from DreamWorks TV and UMS, follows a cross section of characters who come together to put on a Marilyn Monroe musical on Broadway led by the musical’s composer Tom (Borle) and lyricist Julia (Messing). Also previously cast in the pilot are Jack Devenport, Megan Hilty and Katharine McPhee. Borle was nominated for a Tony in 2007 for Legally Blonde.

Katie Finneran has been cast as one of the two leads of Fox’s multicamera comedy I Hate My Teenage Daughter. The project, from Warner Bros. TV and writers/executive producers Sherry Bilsing-Graham and Ellen Kreamer, centers on two women, Annie  and Nikki (Finneran), who now have daughters just like the girls who picked on them in high school. Finneran is a familiar face at Fox. She co-starred on two series for the network, dramas The Inside and Wonderfalls.

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Katharine McPhee Joins NBC Pilot ‘Smash’

By | Sunday February 13, 2011 @ 4:30pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

American Idol alumna-turned-actress Katharine McPhee has landed a co-starring role in the NBC hourlong pilot Smash, which will feature the Idol Season 5 runner-up sing. The pilot, from DreamWorks TV and UMS, is based on an idea by Steven Spielberg and follows a cross section of characters who come together to put on a Marilyn Monroe musical on Broadway led by the musical’s composer Tom and lyricist Julia (Debra Messing). McPhee will play a beautiful struggling actress who goes to all lengths to book the role of Marilyn Monroe in the musical. Read More »

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Jack Davenport To Co-Star In NBC’s ‘Smash’

Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: I hear FlashForward alum Jack Davenport will co-star opposite Debra Messing in the NBC hourlong pilot Smash, which was based on an idea by Steven Spielberg. The pilot, from DreamWorks TV and UMS, follows a cross section of characters who come together to put on a Marilyn Monroe musical on Broadway led by the musical’s composer Tom and lyricist Julia (Messing). British actor Davenport will play Derek, a fierce and intelligent musical choreographer trying to find his next big project who loves the idea of the Marilyn Monroe musical. Davenport also joins Megan Hilty in the pilot, written by Theresa Rebeck and to be directed by Michael Mayer. Smash landed Davenport in a competitive situation as he was also holding an offer for the lead in Marc Cherry’s ABC pilot Hallelujah. Davenport, repped by Gersh and Sanders Armstrong Caserta, also starred in the CBS’ praised drama Swingtown and in Coupling (the original hit British version) and co-starred in the first three Pirates of the Caribbean movies.

Another Brit, The Beautiful Life alumna Ashley Madekwe is the first actress to be cast in ABC’s drama pilot Revenge, written by Swingtown creator Mike Kelley and to be directed by Phillip Noyce. It is a contemporary re-imagening of The Count of Monte Cristo from a female perspective and centers on Emily Thorn, a mysterious young woman who comes … Read More »

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NBC Orders Steven Spielberg Musical Pilot

Nellie Andreeva

New NBC entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt is putting his stamp on the network’s development with a pilot order for a project he originally developed while at Showtime. NBC just greenlighted Smash, an ambitious one-hour musical about the mounting of a Broadway musical based on an idea by Steven Spielberg. The pilot, which will be produced by DreamWorks TV and Universal Media Studios, follows a cross section of characters who come together to put on a Broadway musical. TV writer/playwright Theresa Rebeck wrote the script and is executive producing with Spielberg, Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey of DreamWorks TV, Hairspray producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron  and Grammy and Tony-winning songwriters Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman who will pen original songs for the show. Negotiations are underway  for Michael Mayer (American Idiot) to direct. Smash joins an expansive slate at DreamWorks TV, which includes 4 series, including the upcoming The Borgias on Showtime and Terra Nova on Fox. Musicals have been a hot genre on the broadcast networks this development season with in light of the success of Fox’s Glee, but Smash is the first such project to reach a pilot stage.

Also greenlighted to pilot at NBC under Greenblatt is the comedy spec I Hate That I Love You, from Will & Grace alumna Jhoni Marchinko and 20th Century Fox TV. It is described as a twisty single-camera romantic comedy in which a straight couple … Read More »

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