Those people (and TV critics) wondering why Will Arnett would take a role on a CBS multi-cam sitcom with a running fart gag in the pilot, for crying out loud, even if it is exec produced by Greg Garcia, need look no further than Forbes’ just-out list of the highest-paid TV actors. It’s topped entirely by CBS comedy stars. (Note the somewhat apologetic tone of Arnett’s recent multi-cam explanation to Digital Spy: “I’ve spent the last 10 years doing single-camera shows, from Arrested Development to 30 Rock to Running Wilde to Up All Night and, it sounds lame, but I just thought it would be really fun.”) Ashton Kutcher is ranked No. 1, paid $24 million between June of ’12 and ’13, because he’s the guy who enabled Warner Bros TV to retain a big franchise and CBS to hang on to an important piece of its campaign to take over comedy on Thursday nights while maintaining a four-comedy slate on Mondays — a good thing too, given the early demise of We Are Men. Kutcher’s co-star Jon Cryer, who last fall won an best-actor Emmy for having survived the Charlie Sheen years, is No. 2 on the list. Heck, even the show’s Angus “Don’t Watch This Filth” Jones made the list, which presumably eases the pain of being phased off the show this season, after which he will have to make do with his earnings from the show’s syndication. Former CBS star Ray Romano is No. 3 on the list, owing, Forbes says, in large measure to the money he’s still making off of Everybody Loves Raymond repeats. And, at No. 4: Neil Patrick Harris, star of CBS comedy How I Met Your Mother, tied the network’s Mark Harmon, who is star of the country’s most-watched scripted series NCIS.
Paula Bernstein is an AwardsLine contributor.
A look at the leading Emmys contenders for drama guest roles this season.
WHAT: The Good Wife
WHY: “Why would I joke?” asks Nathan Lane’s Clarke Hayden, the trustee brought in to oversee Lockhart/Gardner and get the firm back on track. It’s a fitting question for Lane, who is better known for his comic delivery than for his dramatic chops. But, as the levelheaded Hayden, Lane forgoes the over-the-top theatrics and delivers a quiet performance that could earn him his first Emmy nom in a drama category (he’s been nominated previously for comedy guest roles on Frasier, Mad About You and Modern Family).
ONE-LINER: “I don’t like people who quit.”
Men of a Certain Age is officially dead. Following the dramedy’s cancellation by TNT, series creators Ray Romano and Mike Royce had shopped the series around. Now they took to the “Save Men of a Certain Age” Facebook page, whose online petition has garnered more than 10,000 signatures, to announce that those efforts have been unsuccessful and they are reluctantly throwing in the towel. Here is Romano and Royce’s gracious open letter to fans titled Hold Your Head Up:
Sorry I haven’t been in touch. Unfortunately there’s been nothing to report. And at this point, since we want to be straight with you guys, I have to tell you that we’ve kind of reached the end of the road. Hard to admit, but it’s true.
If you can think of a network, we called them. Of course, “Men of a Certain Age” doesn’t really belong on certain networks. But we called them too. We called everybody. We tried online, satellite, alternate content providers, corporate sponsorship, Taxi TV, filmstrips… everything. We’ve exhausted every possibility and then some.
There will be no third season of TNT’s buddy dramedy Men of a Certain Age after the cable network decided to pull the plug on the critically praised but low-rated series. “TNT has been proud to be a part of Men of a Certain Age for two seasons,” the network said in a statement. “While the show has featured great storytelling and impeccable performances, the audience simply hasn’t built to the point where we can continue the series. This was an extremely difficult decision for us. We wish (co-creators) Ray Romano & Mike Royce and the terrific cast and crew the very best and look forward to exploring new programming possibilities in the future.” The news comes a day after Men landed an Emmy nomination for Andre Braugher, who co-stars on the show alongside Romano and Scott Bakula. The series also landed a Peabody Award in May. Men returned for the conclusion of its second season last month to a disappointing 1.8 million viewers, 591,000 of them in the 19-49 demographic. That was down 33% from the Season 2 premiere in December.
While not completely unexpected, the cancellation represents an about-face for TNT brass. At TCA in January, the network’s chief Michael Wright did not seem phased by the series’ low ratings.
UPDATE, 8:35 AM: Turner executives’ nightmare is over. Koonin returned to the stage to tell advertisers that TNT and TBS plan a major campaign to appeal to viewers who want to watch shows on mobile devices. The networks will advertise that they offer “drama on demand” and “comedy on demand.” Koonin paraphrased crooner Richard Marks: “Wherever you go, whatever you do, TBS and TNT will be there waiting for you.”
PREVIOUS, 8:20 AM: Video came back about 15 minutes ago and appears to be OK. Whatever happens, the technical woes gave Conan O’Brien more ammo for a routine that took several jabs at Turner Entertainment. When the breakdown ruined one of his gags, he said, “You know I love working at TBS — the commitment to detail.” After a stagehand told him to skip the routine with the clip, he added: ”Alright, I guess I’ll do what I’m told. Beggers can’t be choosers.” Earlier he said, “I did this upfront last year. Frankly, I don’t know why TBS doesn’t do what it does best and run it again -– four freaking times.” Also: “We’re already No. 1 in TBS’ key demographic: People who can’t afford HBO.”
From Ray Richmond, who is contributing to Deadline Hollywood’s TCA Coverage:
Ricky Gervais is Now a Man of Science
Nobody has more fun than Ricky Gervais, as he proved Thursday afternoon during a TCA panel that originated live via satellite from overseas. Gervais was joined by his writer-producer partner Stephen Merchant and …