EXCLUSIVE: While NBC opted not to go forward with midseason comedy Next Caller, the network is staying in business with the series’ star Dane Cook. NBC Entertainment and sibling studio Universal Television, which co-produced Next Caller with Lionsgate TV, have inked a new deal with the actor-comedian to develop a new starring vehicle for him. Cook’s casting in Next Caller stemmed from a development deal he signed with NBC last fall. Although NBC brass didn’t like the creative direction of the show, which led to its demise four episodes into production, they liked Cook — who starred as a foul-mouthed satellite radio DJ forced to share the mic with a chipper NPR feminist (Collette Wolfe) — and wanted to keep him in the fold. “Dane Cook is one of the most talented comedians working today,” said NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke. “He has a broad fan base and always fresh point of view. We are eager to get started working on his next project.” Cook is repped by UTA.
In a post on his blog, Stephen Falk, creator/executive producer of NBC midseason comedy Next Caller, discusses the network’s decision last month to pull the plug on the series. Next Caller, produced by Lionsgate TV and Universal TV, starred Dane Cook as a foul-mouthed satellite radio DJ forced to share the mic with a chipper NPR feminist (Collette Wolfe). Jeffrey Tambor, Joy Osmanski and Wolé Parks co-starred in the series, whose four completed episodes won’t air. In a post titled Advice To Young TV Writers (but really: What Happened To My NBC Show), Falk describes the effect the cancellation has had on him, addresses the potential reasons for Next Caller‘s demise, shares some lessons from the experience and voices support for female comedy writers. Here is his post in his entirety.
Hey, you aspiring TV writers. It’s a hard job to crack into, but if you’re good enough and driven enough, it will happen for you. Don’t give up!
For if you work hard enough, someday you too may work on your own show for a year — from pitch to outline to script to pilot to the triumph of being picked up to series: the Golden Ticket. Then you might move across the country to actually make the show, hire a hundred actors and writers and crew members, and then in the middle of editing the 4th episode, get your show abruptly cancelled via late-night Friday phone call from Los Angeles. Then the fun part: you get to walk in shock back to your office — abandoning the confused editor waiting to lock the episode — and personally call all the actors and writers and crew and inform them the proverbial plug has been pulled and they no longer have a job, sorry.
EXCLUSIVE: NBC has pulled the plug on midseason comedy series Next Caller. The network in May had given the Dane Cook-starring project a six-episode order. After filming four of them, I hear network brass had decided that creatively the series was not going in the direction they had hoped for. Production on the series, produced by Lionsgate TV and Universal TV, has stopped, and the produced episodes won’t air. Created and executive produced by Stephen Falk, Next Caller stars Cook as a foul-mouthed satellite radio DJ forced to share the mic with a chipper NPR feminist (Collette Wolfe). Jeffrey Tambor, Joy Osmanski and Wolé Parks co-star. NBC recently gave two of its freshman comedy series, Go On and The New Normal, full-season pickups, while fellow freshmen Guys With Kids and especially Animal Practice, have been struggling. The network has two other comedy series on tap for midseason, 1600 Penn and Save Me.
UPDATED: Last year, most midseason series received shorter orders for fewer of the standard 13 episodes new shows get. That included ABC’s GCB (10), The River (8) and Scandal and Don’t The B—- (7), CBS’ Rob (8) and NBC’s Bent (6) and Best Friends Forever (6).
This year, the networks are not as stingy to new shows, with only two midseason series, ABC’s drama Red Widow starring Radha Mitchell and NBC’s late pickup, comedy Next Caller starring Dane Cook, getting fewer than 13 episodes — 8 and 7, respectively.
But there are a number of returning series whose orders are shorter than the standard full-season 22 episodes (13 for midseason shows getting a second-season pickup). NBC did a lot of that on the comedy side, which the network’s topper Bob Greenblatt said at the NBC upfront was how they could afford to pick up as many (7) new comedy series. Of NBC’s returning comedy series only flagship The Office and Parks & Recreation have received 22-episode renewals. The rest, 30 Rock, Community, Up All Night and Whitney have been picked up for 13 episodes each. For 30 Rock, that marks the final season. During a press call on Monday, Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly criticized the shorter orders for returning comedy series, calling them potentially “confusing.”
Also getting a 13-episode order is ABC’s procedural Body Of Proof, which is …
NEW COMEDIES & DRAMAS FOR 2012-13 NBC PRIMETIME SCHEDULE
Sitcoms expand to four nights this fall including Tuesday and Friday nights. New dramas from Dick Wolf and JJ Abrams. Here’s your first look:
NBC’s Save Me - Comedy
Produced by Sony Pictures Television and Original Film. Novelist John Scott Shepherd is executive producer/creator along with executive producer/director Scott Winant and executive producers Neal H. Moritz, Vivian Cannon, and Alexa Junge:
NBC’s 1600 Penn - Comedy
Produced by 20th Century Fox. From executive producer/director Jason Winer. The executive producers are Winer (who also directed the pilot), Gad and former White House speechwriter Jon Lovett:
NBC has given one last-minute comedy series order to the Dane Cook starrer Next Caller, which I hear is being picked up for six episodes. The project, from writer Stephen Falk, Lionsgate and Universal TV, is a single-camera gender comedy focusing on a brash alpha male DJ (Cook) and his new, plucky, feminist co-host (Collette Wolfe) set in the offices of a satellite radio station. There had been talk that NBC liked the premise but was considering redeveloping it. That is still a possibility given that fact that the order is for 6 episodes, likely for midseason. As Next Caller got a nod, I hear the last remaining NBC comedy pilots have now gotten a pass. That includes the multi-camera Kari Lizer project starring Minnie Driver and Andrea Anders and Daddy’s Girls starring Scott Bakula, which may be shopped elsewhere. With the Next Caller pickup, NBC’s tally is seven new comedy series for next season — six single-camera and one multi-, the Jimmy Fallon-produced Guys With Kids.