UPDATED: Comedy TV writer Lester Lewis, who worked on The Office, died last night. He was 46. Lester most recently wrote and executive produced a “shortcom” project for Fox starring Michael Kosta, which the two co-created. It is eyed for the network’s summer Short-Com Comedy Hour series. Earlier this season, Lewis worked as a consulting producer on David Kohan and Max Mutchnick’s CBS comedy series Partners, having previously served as co-executive producer on Kohan and Mutchnick’s NBC series Four Kings. “We are devastated by the loss of this incredible man and brilliant writer,” Kohan and Mutchick said. “We had the privilege of working with him on two shows. They were both joyous experiences. Our hearts and prayers go out to his wife and children at this time.” Lewis was a consulting producer on NBC’s Emmy-winning Office, where he spent four seasons. He started his career on The PJs and The Larry Sanders Show and had overall deals at Universal and Warner Bros. Lewis is survived by his wife and two young children.
EXCLUSIVE: WME has expanded its partner roster by upping seven of its best and brightest to partnership status. The new partners are Warren Zavala, the talent agent who joined from CAA last year and whose clients include Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Tobey Maguire; TV lit agent Tom Wellington (clients include Burn Notice creator Matt Nix and Jonah Nolan), talent agent Brad Slater (clients include Dwayne Johnson, and Kevin Costner), Motion Picture Lit agent Phil D’Amecourt (Neill Blomkamp, Wally Pfister, Laeta Kalogridis), Book agent Dorian Karchmar (Guy Fieri and Amoor Towles), and Personal Appearance agents Brent Smith (a music agent whose clients include Snoop Dogg and Frank Ocean) and Stacy Mark (who reps standup comics including Daniel Tosh). Deadline invites the new seven samurai to take a bow.
I have learned that CBS has decided not to give a back order to new comedy Partners. The show will be pulled from the schedule immediately, with comedy repeats airing in the Monday 8:30 PM slot for the time being. The news comes on the heels of Partners hitting a series low (1.8 18-49 rating) on Monday while the rest of the CBS Monday series were up or steady. Partners, starring David Krumholtz and Michael Urie, has been the weakest link in CBS’ Monday lineup, disrupting the comedy flow and likely hurting new 9 PM tentpole 2 Broke Girls, for which it served as a lead-in. (UPDATE: CBS has released scheduling info for next Monday, with a Two And A Half Men repeat set to air at 8:30 PM. This marks the veteran comedy’s symbolic return to Mondays, where it aired for nine seasons before relocating to Thursdays this fall.)
Even with the series-low 1.8 rating, Partners this week was on par or higher than all new fall comedies on other networks that have received back orders except NBC’s Go On (2.2). But for CBS comedy standards, it fell short.
Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
In 1995, Fox premiered a new sitcom entitled Partners that starred Tate Donovan and Jon Cryer as architects and best pals who have an offbeat secretary. In the pilot, one of them gets engaged, tossing their friendship and partnership into jeopardy. That pilot was directed by top sitcom helmer James Burrows. Seventeen years later, CBS this fall will premiere a new sitcom — also entitled Partners — starring David Krumholtz and Michael Urie as architects and best pals with a zany secretary. In the pilot, one of the guys gets engaged, threatening their friendship and partnership. Like its namesake predecessor, it was directed by James Burrows. The similarities between the two projects were front and center at TCA this morning when Partners creators/exec producers David Kohan and Max Mutchnick appeared with their stars to promote their new show. Kohan and Mutchnick essentially dismissed the parallels between the two shows’ premises as, with Mutchnick calling the identical titles as an “unfortunate coincidence.” Quipped Krumholtz, “Is it also an unfortunate coincidence that my character’s name is Tate Donovan?”
Jeff Greenstein, who created and ran the Fox series, has been vocal about his displeasure over the new show on Twitter. “So I guess it’s OK to rip off the title, premise, pilot …
CBS has released the key art designs for its four new fall series: dramas Elementary, Vegas and Made In Jersey and comedy Partners. The image for Elementary, a contemporary take on the characters of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson set in New York City, features stars Jonny Lee Miller (Holmes) and Lucy Liu (Watson) with the tagline “New Holmes. New Watson. New York.” Partners, about two life-long best friends and business partners — one straight (David Krumholtz) and one gay (Michael Urie) — and their significant others (Sophia Bush, Brandon Routh), actually uses a line creators Max Mutchick and David Kohan used to pitch the show: “Four Friends. Three Couples.” The key art for Vegas, set in 1960s Las Vegas as it begins its rise as a gambling and entertainment mecca, showcases stars Dennis Quaid and Michael Chiklis, while Made In Jersey is all about its lead, Martina Garretti (Janet Montgomery), a young working-class woman from New Jersey who uses her street smarts to succeed at a top New York law firm. (Click on images for larger view)
EXCLUSIVE: James Burrows, who directed the pilot for the new CBS/Warner Bros. comedy Partners, will be staying with the series as executive producer/director. He will segue to Partners from another CBS/WBTV comedy series, Mike & Molly, on which he served as an executive producer and primary director for the past two seasons. Partners marks a reunion for Burrows and the series creators/executive producers David Kohan and Max Mutchnick. Burrows served as an executive producer/director on the duo’s Will & Grace for the entire run of the hit NBC comedy series, marking the first series he took up such a role on since Cheers. After almost 40 years in the business, ICM-repped Burrows remains the preeminent multi-camera comedy director. He has directed the pilots for a whopping five of the 12 multi-camera broadcast series that will air next season, CBS’ Two And A Half Men, The Big Bang Theory, Mike & Molly, 2 Broke Girls and Partners.
CBS released full trailers today for the network’s new series that were announced last week. Trailers were shown to press covering CBS’ upfront presentations but were not made available for general release until today.
Produced by CBS Television Studios. From executive producers Rob Doherty, Sarah Timberman, Carl Beverly and Michael Cuesta. Directed by Michael Cuesta (pilot):
CBS’ Made In Jersey
Produced by Sony Pictures Television in association with CBS Television Studios. From executive producers Jamie Tarses, Kevin Falls, Julia Franz and Mark Waters. Written by creator/co-executive producer Dana Calvo (pilot). Directed by Mark Waters (pilot):
In my decade covering American television I can’t think of a year when more projects that started as also-rans, or came back from the dead, or barely made it to pilot, or overcame major recastings, went on to land series orders. And some of them are among next season’s most buzzed-about new shows. It feels like almost all pilots that had recastings — once an ominous sigh for a project’s future — went to series, and those that went through hardship on average fared much better than their non-problematic counterparts.
When a pilot script is passed on by the network that developed it, in 99.99% of the cases that means the end of the road, with the script headed to the writer’s drawer as its final destination. But in the case of Mindy Kaling’s medical comedy The Mindy Project, a pass by NBC where it was developed led to a pilot pickup at Fox, where the project quickly emerged as the network brass’ darling and landed on the fall schedule in the plum post-New Girl time slot.
Like rejected scripts, dead pilots also hardly get resurrected. Sci-fi veteran Rockne S. O’Bannon wrote Cult for the 2005-06 development season when he landed a pilot order at the WB but the project became a casualty of the UPN/WB merger and the pilot was never made. Six years later, O’Bannon’s updated Cult script got a pilot order at the CW, the pilot was shot and took another step forward, landing a midseason series order.
It took Will & Grace creators David Kohan and Max Mutchick about as long to get a comedy inspired by their real-life straight man-gay man friendship on the air. The idea’s first incarnation was at CBS during the 2006-07 development season and the second at ABC the following season. Both times, Kohan and Mutchick’s scripts went to pilot starring Jay Mohr and Brian Austin Green (CBS) and Alan Tudyk, Josh Cooke and Ty Burrell (ABC). Both times Kohan and Mutchnick felt there were script, casting and other issues. The two had moved on when last year CBS approached them about revisiting the idea but getting it right this time. The result is Partners, which also went to pilot.
NOTE: The network will release full trailers of all its shows in the next few days. CBS did provide behind-the-scenes featurettes of the fall-premiering shows, noted below.
CBS’ Partners – Comedy
Produced by Warner Bros Television. From executive producers David Kohan and Max Mutchnick. Directed by James Burrows (pilot). Here’s a behind-the-scenes look:
CBS’ Elementary – Drama
Produced by CBS Television Studios. From executive producers Rob Doherty, Sarah Timberman, Carl Beverly and Michael Cuesta. Directed by Michael Cuesta (pilot):
2ND UPDATE 5:30 PM: This is a mini-shocker. Word is that CBS is passing on the Nick Stoller comedy pilot ENTRY LEVEL. There has always been concern whether CBS would schedule a single-camera comedy in its blocks of all-multi-camera sitcoms but the network had expressed commitment to the genre. However, while Entry Level was received well and was an early frontrunner, it looks like CBS will again stick to all-multi-camera comedies next season. I also hear that APPLEBAUM is now dead too, along with Oh Fk, It’s You. That leaves only Elementary, Ralph Lamb, Baby Big Shot, Golden Boy, Friend Me, Partners and possibly Martin Lawrence in contention. UPDATE 9PM: I’ve confirmed that the Marin Lawrence comedy is not going forward, so here you have it: ELEMENTARY, RALPH LAMB, BABY BIG SHOT, GOLDEN BOY, FRIEND ME and PARTNERS appear to be CBS’ picks for next season.
PREVIOUS SATURDAY AM: Rumors are flying that most of the other CBS pilots are dead, including TROOPER, WIDOW DETECTIVE, DORF/FALCONE and SUPER FUN NIGHT. Information on OH FK, IT’S YOU has been conflicting, with some saying it’s dead and others suggesting that could still be a possibility for midseason.
PREVIOUS FRIDAY PM: And we’re down to the last network that is yet to pick up its new and returning series for next season — CBS. As usual, the Fort Knox of networks this time a year is keeping things close to …
EXCLUSIVE: CBS’ half-hour pilot Partners has reworked and recast some of its supporting characters. The multicamera project, from Will & Grace creators Max Mutchnick and David Kohan, centers on lifelong friends and business partners —architects Charlie (David Krumholtz), who is straight, and Louis (Michael Urie), who is gay. Co-starring as the duo’s significant others are Sophia Bush as Charlie’s fiancé Ali and Brandon Routh as Louis steady partner. Also originally cast as regulars in the pilot were Elizabeth Regen as Ro-Ro, Charlie and Louis’ colorful assistant, and Brit Lucy Davis as Renata, droll bookkeeper for Charlie’s fiancé Ali, a jewelry boutique owner. After the pilot’s table read, the Ro-Ro role was made guest-starring (with series option) and was recast with Tracy Vilar. The character of Renata has been written out while a new guest-starring role, Cassandra, has been introduced, with Saturday Night Live alumna Molly Shannon tapped to play it.
David Krumholtz is finalizing a deal to play the lead opposite Michael Urie in CBS’ half-hour pilot Partners. The multicamera comedy, from Will & Grace creators Max Mutchnick and David Kohan, centers on lifelong friends and business partners — architects Charlie (Krumholtz), who is straight, and Louis (Urie), who is gay. Sophia Bush co-stars as Charlie’s fiance; Brandon Routh as Louis’ partner. This marks Krumholtz’s return to comedy after a string of drama series gigs. The Numbers alum, repped by Gersh and The Collective, most recently co-starred on NBC’s The Playboy Club earlier this season.
EXCLUSIVE: Chuck alum and former Superman Brandon Routh, Elizabeth Regen and Lucy Davis have joined Michael Urie and Sophia Bush in the cast of CBS’ half-hour pilot Partners. The multicamera comedy, from Will & Grace creators Max Mutchnick and David Kohan, centers on lifelong friends and business partners —architects Charlie, who is straight, and Louis (Urie), who is gay. Routh, repped by UTA and Main Title, will play Louis’ steady partner, a former alcoholic, club-hopping model, now a sober, vegan nurse. Regen will play Ro-Ro, Charlie and Louis’ colorful assistant. Brit Davis, who starred on the original British version of The Office, will play Renata, droll bookkeeper for Charlie’s fiancé Ali ( Bush), a jewelry boutique owner. Routh has worked with Kohan and Mutchnick before – he guest starred in an episode of their multicamera NBC hit Will & Grace.
Ugly Betty alum Michael Urie has landed one of the leads in CBS’ half-hour pilot Partners. The multicamera comedy, from Will & Grace creators Max Mutchnick and David Kohan, centers on lifelong friends and business partners — one straight and one gay (Urie). Urie, repped by Gersh and Seven Summits, joins recently cast Sophia Bush, who plays the other guy’s fiance. James Burrows is directing. He currently stars on Broadway in How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying.
Pooch Hall (The Game) has joined the cast of Showtime’s drama pilot Ray Donovan starring Liev Schreiber. Written by Ann Biderman and directed by Allen Coulter, the Showtime-produced project centers on Ray (Schreiber), a professional “fixer” for LA’s rich and famous who can make anyone’s problems disappear, except the ones created by his own family. Hall will play Daryll, a young fighter who trains at Terry Donovan’s Fite Club, a boxing gym owned by Ray’s brother (Eddie Marsan). Hall is best known for his role as professional football player Derwin Davis on The Game. He will continue on the hit BET comedy, but it will be in second position to Ray Donovan beyond the current fifth season. Hall, repped by Abrams Artists and attorney Jonathan Shikora, was recently seen in the feature Jumping The Broom, directed by The Game‘s …
Hayes MacArthur Boards ‘Rebounding’, Kearran Giovanni Joins ‘Major Crimes,’ Sophia Bush Cast In ‘Partners’
Actor-comedian Hayes MacArthur (Perfect Couples) has been cast in Fox’s single-camera comedy pilot Rebounding. The project, written by Joe Port and Joe Wiseman and directed by Jason Winer, is an uplifting comedy about a man recovering from the death of his fiancé with the help of the idiots on his pickup basketball team, one of them played by MacArthur. Port and Wiseman are executive producing Rebounding with Steve Levitan. The project reunites MacArthur with Winer. In 2005, the duo wrote, directed and starred in a short, The Adventures of Big Handsome Guy and His Little Friend, which got the attention of 20th Century Fox TV executives who signed them to adapt the short as a TV series. The project went to pilot at Fox the following year and launched the Winer and MacArthur’s TV careers. MacArthur, repped by CAA, Flutie Entertainment and attorney Todd Rubenstein, will next be seen in the feature Bachelorette, which premiered at Sundance.
Kearran Giovanni has landed a co-starring role on TNT’s upcoming series Major Crimes, a spinoff from the network’s long-running hit The Closer. In her first series regular role, Giovanni, who has recurred as Dr. Vivian Wright on the daytime drama One Life to Live since 2009, will play Detective Amy Skyes, an ambitious undercover police detective and military veteran who served in Afghanistan. Giovanni’s credits include the Broadway plays Hugh Jackman Back on Broadway, Catch Me if You Can, Guys and …
Veteran multi-camera directors James Burrows and Pamela Fryman, always sought after for pilots, have booked two pilots each after each fielded several offers. Mike & Molly director/executive producer Burrows will direct two CBS comedies: the untitled Greg Malins/Greg Berlanti project, which just cast JoAnna Garcia Swisher as the the female lead, and Max Mutchnick and David Kohan’s Partners. Both pilots hail from Warner Bros TV, where Emmy-winner Burrows is based. The Malins/Berlanti project centers on Nick, who has a health scare and realizes that Wendy (Garcia Swisher), his best friend and business partner of 15 years, is “the one”. Now he has to figure out how to break it to her. Mutchnick and Kohan’s Partners is a personal story of two lifelong friends and business partners — one straight and one gay. This is the latest collaboration between Burrows and Mutchnick/Kohan; ICM-repped Burrows has directed most of the duo’s pilots going back to their NBC hit Will & Grace.