Robert Sean Leonard, Omar Epps Set To Return To ‘House’; Series’ Renewal Imminent
UPDATE: House star Hugh Laurie today also indicated that this would probably be the series’ final season. “The end of (the eighth) season, right now, looks like the end of the show,” he told U.K.’s Radio Times. “That is as far as they have got me for.”
PREVIOUS: After months of negotiations and a string of deadlines that came and went, Fox has closed a deal with Universal Media Studios to bring House for an eighth season, which is expected to be the medical drama’s last. House creator/executive producer David Shore’s does not have a deal beyond this season yet but one is underway and he is fully expected to return and finish the series. Also returning is the cast, including Hugh Laurie, who has one more year on his 3-year contract, co-stars Robert Sean Leonard and Omar Epps, who just closed their deals, and Lisa Edlestein, who is also expected to come back. All senior writers on the show will be back too.
Sticking point in the negotiations was the show’s license fee, which Fox had been pushing to lower by almost 20% to $5 million per episode, something that was going to put pressure on UMS to cut the budget of the series, including above-the-line costs. I hear the final agreement is for a license fee very close to the $5 million Fox had been seeking. As part of its cost-cutting measures, UMS had gone to the 3 actors whose deals were up this season – Leonard, Edelstein and Epps – asking them to take salary cuts on the $175,000 an episode they had been making for next season. UMS had been partially successful as I hear Leonard will be returning at his old salary, while the other 2 will be taking a modest pay cut. Read More »
With Desperate Housewives‘ renewal assured after the series’ stars have have been re-signed, Brothers and Sisters remains the only veteran ABC series not picked up for next season. Being on the bubble is a familiar territory for the family soap, which was also there last season until getting an eleventh-hour reprieve with a 18-episode order. I hear that this year, ABC and sister studio ABC Studios, which produces Brothers and Sisters, have been proactive in exploring ways to bring the show back for an abbreviated sixth and final season that may feature less of Calista Flockhart’s Kitty Walker aka Kitty McCallister.
Because of its soft ratings and expensive large cast, the issues for renewal are economical, and I hear several months ago ABC created budget targets that would allow for the series to come back for a final foray. Brothers and Sisters‘ budget was reduced going into the current fifth season, and it will have to go down again for Season 6. The per-episode price increases by reducing the number of episodes because of less cost amortization, so I hear that ABC is exploring scenarios for a final season that could range from 6 to 18 episodes. Last year, the holdup in getting the renewal was getting the actors to agree to do fewer episodes, which they eventually did, and ABC gave the series a 18-episode pickup at the last minute. (That order was subsequently raised to a full-season 22 after the series started … Read More »
With the Bones pickup out of the way, attention focuses on the other Fox drama embroiled in a renewal drama, House. After a string of deadlines came and went, including one last Friday and another one this Monday, there is still no deal but I hear the hope is to wrap the renewal up by early next week when Fox brass will start piecing together the network’s schedule for next season. It won’t be an easy task as Fox and House producer Universal Media Studios are still apart on the license fee by about 20%. That’s by how much I hear Fox wants to cut the series’ current license fee to about $5 million per episode next season. At this point in a series’ run (House will be entering its 8th season in the fall), the network license fee normally covers the cost of production. But I hear UMS cannot produce House in its current form for $5 million an episode, so it has been unwilling to accept a reduced license fee as it faces the possibility to have to deficit finance a show in its eighth season, something studios rarely do. But then, House is not a typical show as it is estimated to gross some $1 billion for its run from Fox license fees, off-network syndication and international sales as well as auxiliary markets. The network is not budging either, and it got fresh ammunition this week when House hit a new season low with a 2.9/8 in adults 18-49. “Both sides have drawn hard lines and are sticking to them,” one person close to the situation said. “Middle ground is incredibly small, it is a very tiny dot.”
To help bridge the gap, UMS has been crunching numbers as it tries to reduce the budget of the show for next season so it gets closer to the $5 million per-episode license fee offered by Fox. The focus has been on cutting above-the-line costs, including cast compensation. The studio is negotiating with House co-stars Robert Sean Leonard, Omar Epps and Lisa Edelstein, whose deals are up at the end of this season. I hear all three, who are at about $175,000 an episode, have been asked to agree to both doing fewer episodes next season (from 24 to 18 is a scenario I hear) and getting a salary reduction. Read More »
UPDATED: Gail Berman and Lloyd Braun’s three-year effort to turn the New York Times‘ column Modern Love into a TV series is bearing fruit: the project has received a pilot order at Lifetime. Additionally, the network’s resurgent drama series Army Wives will extend its five-year run – it is being renewed for a sixth season with a 13-episode order. On the unscripted side, the network has picked up 6 new series, including an all-star edition of Project Runway.
Created and executive produced by Sex and the City alumna Jenny Bicks, dramedy Modern Love will weave actual stories from NYT‘s column to explore the state of modern relationships. It follows newspaper science editor Simon McElvane as he faces a deteriorating marriage, the ramifications of potentially starting over and balancing his relationship with his adopted 15-year-old daughter. Unexpectedly handed the job of editor of the newspaper’s Modern Love column, Simon discovers he has a lot to learn about life and love. Berman and Braun optioned rights to the column in 2008. A year later, they set up an adaptation at HBO with Bicks attached to write and Alan Poul to direct. Because of Bicks’ deal at Sony Pictures TV, the studio came on board to produce with BermanBraun. The project, executive produced by Bicks, Berman, Braun, Gene Stein and Poul, was subsequently set up at Lifetime with all original auspices attached. Filming is expected to begin in the summer.
Veteran Army Wives has enjoyed a ratings resurgence in its current Season 5, which continues with Episode 9 this Sunday. Its season premiere averaged 4.2 million viewers, up 27% from the fourth-season debut last April. A month ago, Army Wives posted a series high in total viewers with 4.8 million viewers. Season to date, the series is averaging 3.7 million viewers and ranks as the top-rated drama on cable among women 18-49. Read More »
Fox made the renewal official this morning after star David Boreanaz broke the news via Twitter last night.
FOX has renewed the hit series BONES for a seventh season, it was announced today by Kevin Reilly, President of Entertainment, Fox Broadcasting Company.“BONES is creatively fresh, it’s a rock-solid player every time it airs and this season it has helped us win on Thursday nights for the first time in our history,” said Reilly. “Hart Hanson and the fantastic cast and crew, as well as the millions of loyal BONES fans, make this show really special, and I’m excited to have it on our air for another stellar season.”
BONES is a darkly amusing procedural centered on a highly skilled forensic anthropologist who can read clues left behind in victims’ bones and an FBI agent. These unlikely partners take on homicide cases involving human remains that most forensic specialists can’t handle. The series stars Emily Deschanel, David Boreanaz, TJ Thyne, Michaela Conlin, Tamara Taylor and John Francis Daley.
Given that the last time around Bones‘ two-year renewal closed hours before Fox’s upfront presentation after long and sometimes contentious license-fee negotiations, this time the two sides seem ahead of schedule with a pickup two weeks before the upfronts. “Season 7 is GO for Bones,” star David Boreanaz tweeted tonight. Fox, Bones producer 20th TV and the show’s Twitter-fanatic creator/executive producer Hart Hanson have yet to weigh in but word is the studio and the networks came to an agreement shortly before Boreanaz tweeted the news and are expected to make an announcement in the morning. While the renewal was never in doubt since Bones is Fox’s second-highest-rated drama series behind House, a single-year renewal is somewhat surprising but I hear a second consecutive two-year pickup was never on the table. And Fox still has a House renewal to close.
The CW Network just gave early pickup to almost all of its returning series, including reality veteran America’s Next Top Model, which has been renewed for 2 more cycles, including its first ever All-Star edition in the fall. On the scripted side, picked up for next season are the CW’s flagship series The Vampire Diaries, the Monday duo of 90210 and Gossip Girl and sci-fi veteran Supernatural. The only returning series besides departing Smallville not to get an early renewal is veteran One Tree Hill, which is back on the bubble where it was also last year before snagging a last-minute 13-episode order that was later expanded for a full-season 22-episode pickup. Also missing from the list are the CW’s 2 scripted freshmen, Nikita and Hellcats, which are also very much on the bubble. But, judging by the CW’s renewal patterns in the past, there is a very good chance that 2 of the 3 bubble series will eventually make the cut. All five newly renewed series will return in Fall 2011.
According to the CW, the All-Star Edition of Top Model will “feature the models who became breakout characters and who had the most memorable stories from past cycles.” Additional details about the cast, judges and prizes for the All-Star cycle will be announced later. Now in its second season, Vampire Diaries remains the CW’s most-watched show (4.0 million viewers) and top-rated show among the network’s target audience … Read More »
RELATED: Matt Weiner: “These Are The Last Three Seasons Of ‘Mad Men’”
After some last minute saber-rattling over product placement, episode duration, possible cast cuts and the show’s return date, Mad Men creator Matt Weiner has come to an agreement with AMC and Lionsgate TV for a new three-year mega deal said to be in the $25M-$30M range. With Weiner locked in, AMC has picked up the show for two more seasons, Season 5 and Season 6, with a seventh season almost a given now that Weiner is signed for it.
In his quote in the official announcement of the deal (press release below), Weiner said, “I want to thank AMC and Lionsgate for agreeing to support the artistic freedom of myself, the cast and the crew so that we can continue to make the show exactly as we have from the beginning.” Word is he was able to get resolution from the network and the studio on the issues he had had a problem with. That included shortening the running time of the show, introducing product placement, cutting regular cast members and pushing the Season 5 premiere date to 2012. For example, AMC had been looking to cut the series’ running time from 47 to 45 minutes per episode to accommodate more commercials. In the upcoming 13-episode fifth season, the season premiere and finale will be 47 minutes, while Weiner … Read More »
At FX’s upfront party in New York, which is going on right now, the network’s president John Landgraf announced a third-season renewal for Archer. The animated comedy has received a 16-episode order, with three episodes slated to run behind It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia in the fall and the rest airing in early 2012.
Additionally, FX is planning to expand its current portfolio of five comedy series. A sixth half-hour series will launch in early 2012, with Townies as a strong candidate. The animated comedy was created by three It’s Always Sunny writers: David Hornsby and Scott Marder & Rob Rosell. It centers on two earnest yet misguided 15-year-old best friends who have no parental supervision, and they are left to raise themselves through the most awkward years of their lives.
More intel from the FX event courtesy of TVLine’s Matt Mitovich: On the drama side, where FX suffered recent setbacks with Terriers and Lights Out, the network plans to launch a new hourlong series in the fall, “likely” Ryan Murphy-Brad Falchuk’s American Horror starring Connie Britton, which is now casting the pilot. Another new drama series will premiere in the winter, with pilots Outlaw Country and Powers in the running. (The Nashville-set Outlaw Country was delivered some time ago, while Powers, based on the comics, is yet to go into production.) Coincidentally, both pilots are directed by Michael Dinner.
The renewal of Archer comes on the heels of the official pickup of another … Read More »
While FX executives are clearly disappointed by the audience’s rejection of the critically praised freshman drama Lights Out, which was canceled today, they are pretty happy with the performance of sophomore Justified. So much that they are close to renewing the series for a third season. There is no rush, but the deal with producing studio Sony Pictures TV for Season 3 might be completed in time for FX’s upfront party in New York on Tuesday, when the cast of the neo-Western crime drama starring Timothy Olyphant is slated to appear, along with actors from the other FX series.
Despite hitting a season low in 18-49 last night, Justified is running way ahead of Season 1 as the series has emerged as a big DVR gainer, getting a 55%-60% ratings bump from time-shifted viewing. Season-to-date, the drama has averaged 4 million viewers in Live Plus 7 for its original Wednesday 10 PM telecasts. That is up 16% from Season 1. In 18-49, the average is 2.1 million, up 16%. With multiple plays included, each episode of Justified draws 7.4 million total viewers this season, up 9% from Season 1 and close to the cumulative viewership for FX’s flagship drama Sons of Anarchy. The average total 18-49 audience for each episode is 3.8 million, up 10%.
That’s pretty good for a second lease on life: Comedy Central is finalizing a deal for a 26-episode seventh-season pickup of Futurama. Comedy Central resurrected Matt Groening and David X. Cohen’s animated sci-fi comedy in 2009, six years after it was cancelled by Fox, with a 26-episode sixth-season order. The first batch of 13 episodes from Season 6 averaged 2.5 million viewers, with the remaining 13 airing this summer. The 26 newly ordered episodes will follow the same pattern, airing in two installments of 13 episodes in 2012 and 2013. Futurama has been a big hit online, growing from 1 million Facebook fans at its launch on Comedy Central to 11 million.
All of NBC’s returning Thursday comedies will be coming back next year. The network today renewed veteran The Office (sans Steve Carell), Parks and Recreation (with Rob Lowe) and Community for next season. They join 30 Rock, which was given an early pickup late last year when the network announced its move to 10 PM. “I am so pleased to renew these three outstanding comedies which are all at the top of their game creatively,” said NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt. “Along with 30 Rock, they represent the best of what the NBC comedy brand stands for in terms of originality, wit, and sophistication. The Office continues to fire on all cylinders on the most competitive night of television; Parks & Recreation has come into its own this season as the rightful companion to The Office; and Community is one of the freshest comedies on any network and a solid foundation for Thursday night.”
With all 4 established Thursday comedies coming back and 13 comedy pilots ordered by Greenblatt this development season, the renewal chances of any of the network’s freshman comedies, Outsourced, Perfect Couples and the few that are yet to premiere, including Friends with Benefits and The Paul Reiser Show, are slim to none. And Greenblatt’s statement, anointing Parks & Rec as “the rightful companion to The Office” could be a sign that the comedy starring Amy Poehler may stay in the 9:30 PM slot next season.
The Office is delivering a … Read More »
Carson Daly, who recently landed a primetime NBC gig hosting the new reality series The Voice, has also secured his late-night job at the network. NBC has renewed late-night show Last Call with Carson Daly for the 2011-12 season, Last Call’s 11th. “Last Call is enjoying its best season yet and its ratings are up,” said NBC’s EVP late night Rick Ludwin. Last Call with Carson Daly is produced by Universal Media Studios. Stewart Bailey and Guy Oseary continue as executive producers.