Comedy writer-producer David Feeney has closed an overall deal with 20th Century Fox TV. The two-year pact stems from Feeney’s stint as executive producer/co-showrunner on the studio’s Fox freshman series Ben And Kate this past season alongside creator/executive producer Dana Fox. He will now join another 20th TV/Fox comedy series, New Girl, where he will serve as co-executive producer next season, in addition to developing new projects. “Dave proved himself invaluable on Ben And Kate, really stepping up and taking on a leadership role when Dana went on maternity leave,” said 20th TV chairman Gary Newman. “Although that show ultimately didn’t go the distance, we knew we wanted to stay in business with him.” Feeney is with UTA.
With more and more broadcast series ending their seasons earlier and earlier, Fox is delaying the season finales of four series this year. The network today amended the list of season finale dates it issued two weeks ago with new dates for New Girl, The Mindy Project, Kitchen Nightmares and Touch. Comedies New Girl and Mindy Project, originally slated to wrap their seasons May 7, will now air their finales May 14. Kitchen Nightmares and Touch will finish their seasons May 10. In Fox’s previous plan, Kitchen Nightmares was to end its original run April 6, followed by Touch‘s closer April 26. The reason for the tweaks is that Fox brass decided to have more originals on in May. The rest of the network’s season-finale dates remain unchanged. Here is the full list of Fox’s season finales/summer premieres:
‘New Girl’ At PaleyFest: New Episodes Will Show How Characters Lost Their Virginity, A Funeral, And Major Guest Stars
Diane Haithman contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
At tonight’s PaleyFest panel on Fox’s New Girl, star Zooey Deschanel revealed that this week the show is shooting a flashback episode that details how the main characters lose their virginity. While offering few specifics, creator and executive producer Liz Meriwether, who wrote the episode, said cryptically that Max Greenfield’s Schmidt, playing the scene as his overweight younger self, would be seen “in that dorm room moving through space a little bit. He gets very overzealous with some lube.” No clues were revealed about the other characters’ first-time experiences. Earlier in the session, Meriwether said the show’s writing process always includes some “real shit and some stupid shit,” and that this episode will fit that signature mold of combining the silly with emotions that are “beautiful and real.” The panel at the Saban Theater in Beverly Hills included Deschanel; Meriwether; executive producers Brett Baer, Dave Finkel, Jake Kasdan and Katherine Pope; and cast members Greenfield, Jake Johnson, Lamorne Morris and Hannah Simone.
Earlier this month the show was renewed for a third season, but there were plenty left to talk about regarding the remaining episodes this season. Panelists confirmed news reports that Episode 20, airing in a few weeks, takes the cast to Chicago after the death of Nick’s (Johnson) father. While again not revealing too many spoilers, producers said the episode would feature guest stars Margo Martindale (who died on Justified but won an Emmy for her role) as Nick’s mother and Nick Kroll as Nick’s brother. Also guest starring as Nick’s grandmother: Ellen Albertini Dow, who played the “rapping granny” in The Wedding Singer, variously reported to be either 94 or 99. The episode was directed by Kasdan, who said setting the show in Chicago and blending regulars with guest cast made this episode feel “like the pilot for a different show.” And he added that “Elvis shows up” — played by Deschanel.
Fox has handed early renewals to midseason drama The Following and Tuesday comedies New Girl, Raising Hope and The Mindy Project. They join recently renewed veteran Bones, with negotiations for a fifth season of Glee ongoing. Per star Kevin Bacon’s deal, The Following pickup is for a 15-episode second season, same as Season 1. It will likely return next midseason. The Following, from creator/executive producer Kevin Williamson and Warner Bros. TV, has emerged as a big DVR performer, rising to No. 2 broadcast drama and No. 3 drama overall this season in Live+7 ratings.
Fox hinted at the renewal of New Girl, Raising Hope and The Mindy Project last week when it slotted repeats of the three comedies on its summer schedule. New Girl, from creator Liz Meriwether, Chernin Entertainment and 20th TV, is Fox’s highest-rated comedy. It has been renewed for a third season. Raising Hope, from creator Greg Garcia and 20th TV, has been a great utility player, delivering solid ratings wherever dispatched by the network. Mindy Kaling’s freshman Mindy Project, from Universal TV and 3 Arts has been soft in the ratings but has done well with critics and is a favorite of Fox brass.
There’s going to be a little bit more of The Mindy Project and New Girl on Fox in April. The network announced today that it would be airing new episodes of the comedy series on April 4 right after American Idol. That’s a big lead-in boost for the shows, which usually air on Tuesdays. A “Date Night” episode of New Girl will be broadcast at 9 PM right after Idol, with an episode of The Mindy Project following at 9:30 PM. Fox did have an encore of Glee scheduled in the April 4 Thursday night slot but decided to move it to give the comedies a little bit of Idol love as it has for other shows like Touch and Glee itself in previous years.
EXCLUSIVE: Zooey Deschanel has signed with UTA. She was with CAA. Indie film darling Deschanel stars on Fox’s comedy series New Girl, which has earned her Emmy and Golden Globe nominations. Deschanel is also a Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter who records and performs in the band She & Him. Additionally, she is a co-founder of the female-targeted entertainment and pop culture website HelloGiggles.com, which she created along with partners Sophia Rossi and Molly Mcaleer. (Rossi is also repped by UTA.) This season, Deschanel and Hello Giggles ventured into series development with Must Be Nice, a comedy written by New Girl consulting producer J.J. Philbin, which sold to Fox with a script commitment. Deschanel’s feature credits include 500 Days Of Summer and Almost Famous. She continues to be repped by manager Sarah Jackson and attorney Steve Warren.
Glee will be back on January 24, 2013, Fox announced today. The musical comedy-drama’s return for more of its fourth season was just one of many Fox series the network set Winter 2013 premiere dates for. The Simpsons is back for more of its 24th season on January 6, along with new episodes of Bob’s Burgers, Family Guy and American Dad. A week later, on January 13, The Cleveland Show returns to the network’s Sunday animation block. The Mindy Project and New Girl are back on January 8, as are Raising Hope and Ben And Kate. The network also announced a half hour behind the scenes Inside The Following special on Saturday January 19, two days before the new Kevin Williamson-produced serial killer drama series debuts.
EXCLUSIVE: New Girl co-star Jake Johnson is expanding his relationship with Fox, the network behind the quirky comedy. Johnson has teamed with writer-director Max Winkler for The B Team, a single-camera comedy produced by 20th Century Fox TV and Imagine TV. Johnson and Winkler are co-writing the project, about five regular underdogs who, sick of getting screwed over, come together and form a real-world version of The Avengers. But, lacking any actual superpowers, they must rely on their intelligence and cunning to turn the tables on those who take advantage of the powerless. Winkler is attached to direct the potential pilot, while Johnson is poised to make his directorial debut with an episode if the project goes to series. The two executive produce with Imagine’s Brian Grazer and Francie Calfo.
On the heels of freshman The Mindy Project getting a pickup for two more episodes, bringing its first season order to 24 episodes, Fox has done the same with its two returning live-action comedies: New Girl and Raising Hope. With struggling newcomer Ben And Kate‘s order at 19 episodes vs. 24 for the rest of Fox’s Tuesday comedies, it is clear Fox plans to sub Ben And Kate with The Goodwin Games in midseason.
EXCLUSIVE: Olivia Munn has been tapped for a guest-starring arc on the Fox comedy series New Girl. She will play Angie, Nick’s (Jake Johnson) new love interest who is sexy, earthy, charming and can hold her own with the group. Munn, repped by CAA and Mosaic, will film her episodes before production starts on Season 2 of HBO’s Newsroom, on which she co-stars. She was recently seen in Magic Mike and Babymakers.
New Girl‘s Max Greenfield (aka “Schmidt”) nearly missed his shot at an Emmy. His reps had selected the episode “Control” for his Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series category. But the DVD reproduction house erroneously sent out the “Bad in Bed” episode for him. When the mistake was discovered, the Academy Of Television Arts & Sciences arranged to send out new DVDs before the September 17th deadline.
In what has become a TV industry standard, Fox will preview new comedy series Ben And Kate and The Mindy Project in advance of their fall primetime debuts. The previews will be on Facebook and other online sites — including Yahoo, Hulu, AOL, MSN, Fox.com and Xfinity — and via participating cable, satellite and telco distribution partners on both VOD and online platforms from August 27 to September 9. The series premiere September 25. Last year, Fox successfully previewed New Girl on iTunes, VOD, airplanes and Hulu and in hotels for two weeks, resulting in big premiere numbers for the comedy starring Zooey Deschanel.
Jake Kasdan will serve as exec producer on both New Girl and the new comedy Ben And Kate, as well as develop additional projects under the exclusive two-year overall deal announced today. He’ll also be available to direct pilots he did not personally develop, 20th Century Fox TV chairman Gary Newman said. Kasdan directed the New Girl pilot and went on to direct multiple episodes. He also served as exec producer on the series and will continue in both capacities under his new deal. Kasdan also directed the pilot for Ben And Kate, which was ordered to series by Fox and premieres September 25. “Jake is an incredibly good partner to the creators; he helps realize their vision and is sensitive and fantastic with actors”, Newman said. On the big screen, Kasdan served as producer, director and writer of Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007), as a producer on Friends With Kids (2011) and directed last year’s Bad Teacher.
Charlie Mason is an AwardsLine contributor
A whole thesaurus-full of adjectives has been bestowed upon Zooey Deschanel over the course of her almost-15-year showbiz career. But none have had quite the staying power of “adorkable,” the descriptor that Fox coined to sum up her character Jess Day on the fall breakout New Girl. Mind you, it doesn’t faze the 32-year-old actress, who in real life comes off far brainier than zany. “It was a really great tagline for the show’s first season,” says the sitcom veteran (Frasier), movie star (Elf) and indie darling ((500) Days of Summer). “I can’t complain.” Nonetheless, it probably won’t be long until she gets stamped with another label: Emmy nominee.
AWARDSLINE: I hope you’re not superstitious, because I’d like to wish you luck with that Emmy nod I suspect you’re about to get.
ZOOEY DESCHANEL: Oh, thanks. But I haven’t won anything since fifth-grade student council, so I try not to think about that stuff. I mean, obviously, I would be to-the-moon excited if I were to be recognized. But I would never want to even assume (that I might get a nomination).
Diane Haithman contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
If the 2011-2012 TV schedule is any indication, girls just want to be funny. There are probably more new comedies created, co-created or executive-produced by women in primetime than at any time in history: 2 Broke Girls (Whitney Cummings), The B**** In Apartment 23 (co-creator Nahnatchka Khan) and Girls (Lena Dunham, 2011’s best first screenplay winner at the Independent Spirit Awards for Tiny Furniture). There are more who also might find themselves in the Emmy mix, and Awardsline spoke separately to some of them: Jessika Borsiczky, co-executive producer of Showtime’s House of Lies; Emily Kapnek, creator and co-executive producer of ABC’s Suburgatory; Elizabeth Meriwether, creator and co-executive producer of the Fox comedy New Girl and Emily Spivey, the Saturday Night Live veteran who created and is a co-executive producer of NBC’s Up All Night.
AWARDSLINE: There’s been a lot said about the new shows with women at the helm, especially in comedy. Certainly female comedy was a goldmine for the movies in 2011 with Bridesmaids. What’s going on?
EMILY SPIVEY: I think there just happened to be some ladies with ideas that people liked, I don’t think it was a big conspiracy to get a bunch of ‘lady shows’ on the air. The time has come when more ladies are trying comedy. In the past it was kind of a man thing, especially with stand-up. I think women are really finding their voices and being allowed to be a little more aggressive and speaking about topics that maybe a few years ago were a little more taboo than they are now.
JESSIKA BORSICZKY: We are sort of hitting a place where there’s some real seniority to women in television. When I started at HBO (in the movie division) in 1992 I certainly wasn’t running television shows, it took a long time. But obviously storytelling and movies reflect what’s interesting about our times. The universe of what it is to be a modern woman right now is deep, it’s changing, there’s a lot of fluctuation in family and marriage. Women are now out-earning men and out-educating men and having babies without men so there are a lot of stories to tell. And look at Girls, it’s also showing us a side of what it is to be a young woman that’s new.
Max Greenfield has joined Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler in the cast of They Came Together. Greenfield, seen on Fox’s New Girl, will play the wayward couch surfing younger brother of Rudd’s character. David Wain directs the romantic comedy. Wain wrote the script with Michael Showalter. The duo last worked together on Wet Hot American Summer. Lionsgate is behind They Came Together. Showalter will produce. Wain will be the Executive Producer. Greenfield is repped by WME and Greenlight Management.
Damon Wayans Jr is heading to the Tuesday 9 PM slot after all. The actor starred in the pilot for Fox’s New Girl but had to pull out because his series in first position, ABC’s Happy Endings, was surprisingly renewed for a second season last May. Now he will face New Girl as ABC is slotting Happy Endings in the Thursday 9 PM slot this fall. ABC opening a 9-10 PM comedy block on Tuesday is surprising given the fact that the network last May said it would expand its new Last Man Standing-anchored Tuesday 8-9 PM comedy block to 10 PM in January with the younger-skewing Cougar Town and Don’t Trust The B—- in the 9 PM hour. But the network abandoned the idea, with ABC topper Paul Lee citing the strength of New Girl for the decision. Now the network is pitting Happy Endings and Don’t Trust The B— against New Girl and Mindy Kaling’s The Mindy Project.