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ABC Buys Jenna Bans/Shonda Rhimes Legal Drama Project

By | Monday September 12, 2011 @ 9:55am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Off the Map creator/executive producer Jenna Bans and executive producer Shonda Rhimes are teaming for a new ABC drama project created by Bans. The untitled legal drama centers on a young, idealistic defense attorney who, after being ignominiously fired from his high-powered Minneapolis law firm, struggles to start his own firm with an eclectic group of lawyer misfits, while starting to realize that he may have been fired from his old job because he got too close to a deadly cover-up. ABC Studios and Shondaland are producing, with Bans, Rhimes and Betsy Beers executive producing. Before she created Off the Map, Bans worked on Rhimes’ veteran medical drama Grey’s Anatomy and now serves as a co-executive producer on Rhimes’ midseason ABC drama Scandal. This marks Shondaland’s second ABC sale this season. Last month, the ABC Studios-based company set up Gilded Lillys, a 1895 drama written by The Nine co-creator KJ Steinberg. Bans and Rhimes are with ICM.

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In Other News: ‘Body Of Proof’ Picked Up, ‘Better With You’, ‘Mr. Sunshine’, ‘No Ordinary Family’, ‘Off The Map’ ‘Outsourced’ Dead

Nellie Andreeva

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.

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RATINGS RAT RACE: ABC Freshman Series & ‘Survivor’ Hit Lows, Univision Third Again

Nellie Andreeva

A two-hour American Idol (7.5/21 in adults 18-49, 23.6 million viewers) delivered another dominating Wednesday win for Fox. The Top 11 performance show (redux) was down 5% from last week’s Top 11 performance episode and 1% in total viewers. But in the apples-to-apples comparison to last week’s fast national numbers for the show, which always climbs in the finals, Idol was down 3% in 18-49 and up a fraction in total viewers.

CBS’ Survivor: Redemption Island (2.9/9) was down 6% from last week and is the show’s lowest-rated regular telecast ever. Criminal Minds (3.4/9) was down 6% from its last original two weeks ago. With a new Criminal Minds as a lead-in vs. a repeat last week, Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior (2.3/5) was up 5%.

Following reruns of The Middle and Modern Family, Mr. Sunshine (1.4/4) was down a steep 33% from last week when it followed a new Modern Family for a new series low. Midseason drama Off the Map (1.3/4) was down 13% to tie its series low.

NBC aired a new Minute to Win It (1.1/3), down 8% from last week, a rerun Law & Order: SVU and a new SVU (2.4/6), down 8%.

For a second time this week, Univision finished third for the night in adults 18-49. Last night, it outpaced ABC and NBC.

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RATINGS RAT RACE: ‘The Middle’ & ‘Survivor’ Hit Lows

Nellie Andreeva

Fox’s two-hour American Idol performance show (7.7/22 in adults 18-49, 23.5 million viewers) was up 1% from last week in 18-49 and 4% in total viewers. Vs. the same week last year, Idol was down a modest 8% in the demo. Fox dominated Wednesday night in 18-49 and total viewers.

In its first original airing in Daylight Saving Time, ABC’s 8 PM comedy The Middle (2.0/6) was down 13% from its last fresh episode on March 2 to hit a season low. Following a Middle repeat at 8:30 PM, Modern Family (4.3/12) was actually up 2% from its most recent original on March 2. With a new Modern Family as a lead-in vs. a rerun last week, Mr. Sunshine (2.2/6) was up 22% from last week. But vs. the last time Mr. Sunshine followed a new Modern Family original, the Matthew Perry-starring midseason comedy was down 13%. Boosted by a stronger lead-in from Mr. Sunshine, ABC’s midseason drama Off the Map (1.5/4) at 10 PM was up 15%.

CBS’ reality veteran Survivor (3.0/9) was down 6% from last week to a series low. Following a Criminal Minds repeat (2.1/6), midseason drama Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior (2.2/6) was down 12% from last week when it had an original lead-in. It was beat in the 10 PM hour by NBC’s veteran Law & Order: SVU (2.6/7), which was up 8% from its most recent original on Feb. 23. Like the Criminal Minds spinoff, Law Read More »

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RATINGS RAT RACE: ‘Idol’ Slips But Still Dominates

Nellie Andreeva

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.

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RATINGS RAT RACE: With Established Lead-Ins In Repeat, Midseason Series Slip

Nellie Andreeva

With most of its main competition in repeats, Fox’s American Idol does feel like the only game in town these days. Last night’s two-hour Top 13 performance show (8.0/22 in adults 18-49, 24.2 million viewers) dominated, up 3% in 18-49 and 6% in total viewers from last Wednesday’s performance show. Versus the comparable telecast last season, Idol was off by just 1% in the demo and up 6% in total viewers. (See Reinventing Idol: Will the Reality Veteran Finish Up In the Ratings Without Simon?)

Against Idol, CBS’ Survivor, just renewed for next season, drew the second-highest rating of the night, a 3.2/9 in 18-49, down 3% from last week. With Criminal Minds a repeat, spinoff Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior (2.2/6) was down 15% from last week (when it had an original lead-in) for a series low.

Similarly, following a Modern Family repeat, new comedy Mr. Sunshine (1.8/5) was down 25% and is now tracking below Cougar Town in the slot. At 10 PM, struggling new medical drama Off the Map (1.4/4) was down 18% from last week for a series low. (ABC aired The Middle repeats in the 8 PM hour.)

CW’s America’s Next Top Model (2.3 million, 1.3/4 in 18-34) perked up, up 18% from last week in the demo and posting its largest audience this season. Top Model also beat an original of NBC’s Minute to Win It in 18-49 (1.1 vs. 1.0) to finish fourth in that demo … Read More »

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RATINGS RATE RACE: Solid Debut For ‘Criminal Minds’ Spinoff, ‘Survivor’ Premiere Hurt By ‘Idol’, ‘Mr. Sunshine’ Takes Dive

Nellie Andreeva

The premiere of CBS’ Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior drew a 3.3 rating/10 share in adults 18-49 and 12.9 million viewers last night. It dominated the 10 PM hour, built slightly on its lead-in, mothership Criminal Minds series (3.2/9, 12.8 million) and ranked as CBS’ top-rated program of the night. Vs. the premiere of The Defenders in the same slot in September, Suspect Behavior was up 14% in the demo.

CBS’ Survivor was impacted by its new regular competition, Fox’s American Idol. The debut of Survivor: Redemption Island (3.2/9, 11.2 million), the first season premiere of the veteran reality show to face Idol, was down 29% from the show’s spring premiere last season in its old Thursday 8 PM slot. It was Survivor‘s lowest-rated opener and lowest-rated regular telecast ever.  Survivor didn’t go down without a fight. It dinged Idol a bit, with the 8-9 PM portion of the singing competition slipping 14% from last Wednesday.

Fox’s American Idol aired a two-hour episode (8.1/23, 22.8 million), which was down 4% from last week’s hourlong show. Vs. the comparable episode last season, Idol was down 21% but that episode was highly promoted as it featured the debut of Ellen DeGeneres as new judge. Extending Idol from an hour to two-hour this week pushed the 9 PM shows down. For instance, Criminal Minds was down 11%.

Read More »

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Ratings Rat Race: ‘Idol’ Holds In Week 2

Nellie Andreeva

Fox woke up to some encouraging American Idol ratings news this morning — the reality hit drew a 9.2 rating/24 in adults 18-49 last night, down only 5% from last Wednesday’s premiere for the highest ever Week 2 vs. Week 1 retention. (Last year’s comparable drop was 14%). There is an asterisk – this year’s Episode 3 was a two-hour one while last year’s was 60 minutes. If only the first hour of last night’s show is counted, the drop would be 12%. Still, given the curiosity factor involved in people tuning in for the premiere to see the new judges, it is a good sign that with the novelty wearing off most viewers came back. Fox easily won the night with Idol.

CBS’ Live to Dance and NBC’s Chase, which were decimated by the premiere of Idol last Wednesday, recovered a bit. Live to Dance (1.1/3), which stars former Idol judge Paula Abdul, was up by a tenth at 8 PM, while NBC’s Chase (1.2/3) was up by two tenths at 9 PM. (The latter was more impressive as Chase‘s lead-in, reality show Minute to Win It (1.4/4) was actually down 13% from last week to tie its series low.) CBS’ drama Criminal Minds (3.2/8) was also up week-to-week, by 10%, but the network’s freshman Blue Bloods (2.0/6, 12 million) was flat in the demo from last week, proving to be impervious to lead-in or competition. In addition to a slightly … Read More »

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RATINGS RAT RACE: ABC Wins With ‘Wipeout’, ‘Grey’s’ & ‘Off The Map’ Do-Over

Nellie Andreeva

ABC delivered a solid ratings performance with Winter Wipeout (3.6/11) slipping only 5% from its very impressive debut last week and Grey’s Anatomy (4.4/12), up 5% from last week. At 10 PM, a repeat of the premiere of new medical drama Off the Map (2.0/6), which was impacted by the Tucson memorial-related scheduling shifts on Wednesday, did a respectable business, down a modest 13% from its debut 18-49 rating. For the night, ABC averaged a 3.3/9 and a 9.6 million total viewers, finishing No.1 in the demo and second in total viewers behind CBS.

At CBS, William Shatner proved he is lead-in impervious. Somewhat surprisingly, following a repeat of Big Bang (3.0/9), an original of Shatner’s his new comedy $#*! My Dad Says (2.9/8) matched its demo performance from last week when it followed an original Big Bang (4.4/13). CBS aired drama reruns for the rest of the evening, finishing with an average of a 2.3/6 in 18-49 and 10.1 million viewers. Fox’s Million Dollar Money Drop (1.7/5, 5.7 million) was in line with its delivery earlier this week and up 21% from last Thursday. It also hit a series high in total viewers. Fox, which also ran a repeat of Bones, averaged a 1.5/4 and 5.0 million for the night, followed by NBC (1.3/4, 2.9 million), which aired all reruns.

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RATINGS RAT RACE: ABC’s ‘Off The Map’ Debut Off On Chaotic Night, ‘Middle’ Shines

Nellie Andreeva

UPDATE: ABC just announced that it will preempt tonight’s episode of Private Practice to rebroadcast the premiere of Off the Map that was impacted by the Tucson memorial-related scheduling shifts last night. That will give the Shonda Rhimes-produced new medical drama the strongest and most compatible lead-in, an original of Rhimes’ flagship medical drama Grey’s Anatomy.

PREVIOUS 9:30PM: The coverage of the Tucson memorial from 8:39-9:20PM wreaked havoc in the broadcast network’s primetime lineups last night, with a lot of unannounced, last minutes shifts and pre-emptions. The chaos may have taken a toll on the premiere of ABC’s new drama Off the Map (2.2/6 in 18-49, 7.5 million viewers), one of only 3 first-run shows last night to start at their scheduled times. It was a low start for the medical drama executive produced by Shonda Rhimes, which was down 41% from its lead-in, Modern Family (3.7/10 in the 9:30-10 PM half-hour) and also slipped 13% from its first to second half-hour. Still, Off the Map‘s performance represented a dramatic improvement in the time slot for ABC, which had been struggling mightily there with the now-canceled The Whole Truth. The 10 PM hour was won by NBC’s Law & Order: SVU (2.5/7), which was down 14% from its two-hour telecast last week. The third original to start on time last  night was ABC’s The Middle (3.1/9, 10.5 million), which had another great showing at 8 PM, up 11% from last … Read More »

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TCA: For Shonda Rhimes, It’s All About What’s Next

From Ray Richmond, who is contributing to Deadline Hollywood’s TCA coverage:
Even at a panel session Monday morning promoting her next ABC drama series — the midseason medical hour Off the Map, premiering Wednesday night at 10 — Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice creator Shonda Rhimes can’t get away from the “What have you done for me lately?” mentality. Several questions about her next greenlit pilot project centering on the work of “a professional fixer” were lobbed at her during the TCA powwow in Pasadena, briefly catching her offguard.

“We’re really supposed to be here talking about Off the Map,” she reasoned, before answering a question about what it is a professional fixer does. “It’s a crisis manager,” Rhimes said, “loosely based on a real professional fixer named Judy Smith, who shepherded Monica Lewinsky and the Chandra Levy families through their scandals and issues as well as those of many others. My fixer is not necessarily Judy Smith but is based a lot on her…It resolves around the life of a fixer and her fairly dysfunctional staff based in Washington, D.C.”

That’s how life is for the most successful female independent producer working in TV. Rhimes has one show (Grey’s) in its seventh season, one (Private Practice) in its fourth and a third (Off the Map) just getting started, leaving her lamenting on Monday, “I very much wish I had a clone out there. There’s no such thing for me as a typical day. On Mondays … Read More »

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TV TEASER: ABC’s Midseason ‘Off the Map’

Here’s an exclusive first look at the extended teaser for Off the Map, ABC’s new medical hour from Shonda Rhimes and Jenna Bans that’s set to premiere on January 12. The drama revolves around a group of doctors working at a medical clinic in the South American jungle and stars  Martin Henderson (The Ring), Caroline Dhavernas (Wonderfalls), Jason George (Grey’s Anatomy), Zach Gilford (Friday Night Lights), Rachelle Lefevre (What About Brian), and Mamie Gummer (The Good Wife). Betsy Beers also serves as an executive producer. Michael Ausiello is contributing to Deadline.com as he preps for the launch of TVLine.com, a new TV-centric website from MMC.

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ABC Slots ‘Mr. Sunshine’ Behind ‘Modern Family’ And ‘Happy Endings’ At 10 PM

Nellie Andreeva

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 … Read More »

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‘Off the Map’ Gets Wednesday 10 PM Slot

Nellie Andreeva

Shonda Rhimes/Jenna Bans’ new ABC medical drama Off the Map will premiere Jan. 12 and will succeed the network’s recently cancelled new legal drama The Whole Truth in the Wednesday 10 PM time slot. ABC had originally planned to premiere Off the Map in the same time slot it once used to launch Grey’s Anatomy, Sundays 10 PM after Desperate Housewives. In preparation for the move, ABC gave the slot’s regular dweller, Brothers & Sisters, an 18-episode order in May. But then the veteran family drama did solidly in the ratings in the first few weeks of the season, leading to an order for 4 more episodes. Meanwhile, ABC brass were happy with Off the Map, ordering extra scripts and eventually 6 additional episodes. That made it impossible for the two series to share the Sunday 10 PM time period, and, with The Whole Truth done, Off the Map was slotted on Wednesdays. Off the Map, set at a medical clinic in the South American jungle, was created by Bans who is executive producing with Rhimes, Betsy Beers, Gretchen Berg. Aaron Harbert and director Randy Zisk. While the other networks are yet to unveil any midseason scheduling plans, ABC has been quietly putting in place key pieces of its midseason schedule. The network recently announced that V will return on Jan. 4 and will run in the Tuesday 9 PM slot.

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Midseason Show News: New Name For Fox’s ‘Ride-Along’, More Scripts For ABC’s ‘Map’

Nellie Andreeva

UPDATE: Here is what Shawn Ryan just said about the name change of his new Fox series: ”Changing the title from Ride-Along to THE CHICAGO CODE reflects our belief that this is more than just a cop show.  It’s not just about the police, but also politics, the Midwest, history, Government corruption and the city’s code. Plus adding ‘Chicago’ to anything is always a good idea.

PREVIOUS: Shawn Ryan’s new Chicago-based cop drama for Fox, Ride-Along, has been renamed. It will now be known as The Chicago Code. The change was made to better reflect the the importance of the show’s Chicago setting. … Meanwhile, ABC has ordered 5 more scripts from the Shonda Rhimes-produced upcoming ABC drama Off The Map. That’s in addition to the extra script ABC picked up two weeks ago, bringing the total order to 6 additional scripts. Nice vote of confidence for the medical drama created by Jenna Bans.

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Full Seasons For ABC’s ‘Better With You’ & ‘No Ordinary Family’, More ‘Detroit 1-8-7′ & ‘Brothers & Sisters’, No More ‘Whole Truth’

Nellie Andreeva

ABC today became the latest broadcast network to make its full-season pickups, handing out back-nine orders to freshman comedy Better With You and drama No Ordinary Family. Additionally, the network has picked up 5 additional episodes from freshman cop drama Detroit 1-8-7 and 4 from veteran family drama Brothers & Sisters. Missing from the list is new legal drama The Whole Truth, which already has been on shaky ground and is preempted again next week. The series will stay on the air but the network doesn’t plan to order more episodes beyond the original 13. The episodic orders follow the pickup of 4 additional scripts each for No Ordinary Family and Brothers & Sisters 2 weeks ago. It brings the order for Brothers & Sisters to a full-season 22 episodes, up from the 18 ordered in May, meaning that ABC is probably considering a change in its launch plans for midseason drama Off the Map, which was to premiere in Brothers & Sisters Sunday 10 PM slot. (Off the Map also recently received an order for an additional script.) Read More »

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3 ABC Series Get Additional Script Orders

Nellie Andreeva

Good news for ABC freshman No Ordinary Family — the supernatural family drama just received an order for 4 additional scripts from the network, the only new fall ABC series to get such an order. The network also picked up 4 more scripts from veteran Sunday family drama Brothers & Sisters, which was given a reduced 18-episode order in May but has performed solidly in the ratings this fall. The third ABC series to get an additional script order is Shonda Rhimes/Jenna Bans’ midseason medical drama Off the Map with one extra script picked up. Additional script pickups are usually a precursor to firm episodic orders. The script order to No Ordinary Family is not surprising as the Greg Berlanti-produced drama has emerged as ABC’s most promising hourlong fall series, mostly because the others have all struggled mightily. Read More »

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Rachelle Lefevre Joins ABC’s ‘Off The Map’ As Regular; AMC’s ‘Walking Dead’ Adds Two

Nellie Andreeva

RachelleFormer Twilight co-star Rachelle Lefevre has joined the cast of the Shonda Rhimes-produced new ABC medical drama Off the Map as a regular. Additionally, AMC officially announced the casting of Michael Rooker (Jumper) and Norman Reedus (The Boondock Saints) in its upcoming series The Walking Dead and gave details about their characters. On Off the Map, Lefevre will play a new character, a young doctor, on the series created by Jenna Bans, which is set at a understaffed, under-stocked medical clinic in South America founded by a top American surgeon (Martin Henderson). Co-starring on the series, which is slated to launch in midseason behind Desperate Housewives, are Caroline Dhavernas, Enrique Murciano, Mamie Gummer, Jason George, Valerie Cruz and Jose Julian. Lefevre has a fresh medical acting experience, having played a confident young doctor on CBS’ untitled JohnWells-produced medical drama pilot this past development season.

On Walking Dead, based on the comic book series written by Robert Kirkman, Rooker and Reedus will play brothers Merle Dixon (Rooker) and Daryl Dixon (Reedus), one a redneck ex-con and the other equally as dangerous.

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