MTV has renewed freshman teen comedy Awkward for a second season. The news comes on the heels of the series, created and executive produced by Lauren Iungerich, hitting a series high 2.0 rating in persons 12-34 last week, up a whopping 21% from the week before. “The show is really resonating with our young audiences,” said MTV programming head David Janollari. “What I like about the show is that it first and foremost is a comedy but it’s also not afraid to be honest and emotional. It’s all about the voice of Jenna that Lauren Iungerich so brilliantly created, and with Ashley Rickards, we have an immensely watchable TV star who gives Jenna all the depth and humor and pathos and sympathy we’re looking for in a TV star”. Awkward is less than a month into its first-season run, with seven more episodes left to air. Season 2 will debut in 2012. In addition to Awkward, Iungerich is also shepherding a comedy pilot for MTV, the recently picked up Dumb Girls. This is the second scripted MTV series to be renewed this summer, following the recent pickup of Teen Wolf for a second season. Meanwhile, Skins and The Hard Times Of RJ Berger have been canceled after one and two seasons, respectively.
Syfy has picked up a fourth season of the BBC fantasy series Merlin in a deal with FremantleMedia Enterprises. The series, produced by Shine TV, started its U.S. run on NBC under Ben Silverman. It was canceled after one season and moved to sibling Syfy where it has done solid business in Season 2 and Season 3, recently averaging 1.93 million viewers for its third season, up 12% from Season 2. Meanwhile, VH1 has renewed its first hourlong scripted series Single Ladies for a second season. Both Merlin and Single Ladies will return with originals in 2012.
ABC has renewed reality series Wipeout for a fifth season, which will include winter and summer editions for the 2011-2012 TV season. Vanessa Minnillo will join the series as co-host, starting with the winter Wipeout. She will replace Jill Wagner. “We will miss Jill but are thrilled to welcome Vanessa to the team and excited to bring her enthusiasm to the show,” said Wipeout creator and executive producer Matt Kunitz. “She is a great host with a fun and natural energy that our viewers will love.” Minnillo will join hosts John Anderson and John Henson. Next season will also feature new camera technology, designed to bring viewers even closer to the action. The fourth season of Wipeout will premiere June 23 after a sneak peak June 21. Endemol USA is producing.
Update: CW Picks Up ‘Secret Circle’, ‘Hart Of Dixie’, ‘Ringer’ & ‘H8ER’
As expected, the CW has renewed freshman drama Nikita for a second season and will also bring back veteran One Tree Hill. Struggling freshman Hellcats has been canceled. Nikita and OTH have been the stronger performers. Additionally, because of its great brand recognition, Nikita has been netting solid international sales.
ABC didn’t only pick up scripted series today. The network also renewed two unscripted series. It gave a third-season renewal to Mark Burnett’s reality series Shark Tank, which has done solid business in its second cycle, and a second-season order to promising midseason series Secret Millionaire, from Zodiak USA, which also did well subbing for Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. The second-season finale of the Sony TV-produced Shark Tank airs tonight.
HBO has picked up its praised New Orleans drama Treme for a third season. David Simon and Eric Overmyer’s series chronicling the life of New Orleans residents in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina was down in its second-season premiere, drawing 605,000 viewers, down from the 1.1 million who tuned in for the series premiere last year. But as HBO brass always say, ratings don’t have much weight in their renewal decisions, especially for a show like Treme that they are proud of.
UPDATED: What an appropriate title this turned out to be! Despite soft ratings for its midseason freshman run, ABC’s comedy Happy Endings will come back next season after the network just renewed it. This is not a surprise as the ensemble relationship comedy has had big support internally at the network. But while the Happy Endings producers at Sony TV are celebrating, the renewal was not good news for Fox’s newly picked up comedy series New Girl starring Zooey Deschanel. Damon Wayons Jr. was one of the co-stars in the pilot (I hear he was quite good in it), but his casting was in second position to Happy Endings, where he is also one of the leads. Now he will return to the ABC series, and the 20th TV-produced New Girl will to recast his role. UPDATE: As a commenter pointed out, Happy Endings‘ co-star Adam Pally also did a pilot in second position, NBC’s BFFs, which also will have to recast his role. The dangers of second-position casting …
As expected, NBC today officially picked up perennial bubble show Chuck for a fifth and final season with a 13-episode order. It joins Parenthood and Harry’s Law, which were picked up yesterday. Still in limbo (but not looking good) are Law & Order: LA, which has an outside chance, The Event and Outsourced.
EXCLUSIVE: Four episodes into Braxton Family Values‘ run, Rainbow Media’s WE tv has renewed the reality series starring singer Toni Braxton and her sisters for a second season with a 13-episode order, up from the 10 episodes the network ordered for Season 1. Additionally, WE tv has greenlighted two new series to debut later this year and in 2012: Texas Multi Mamas, about a Texas support group of mothers of multiples, and The Willis Clan, about a family of 14 where the parents push their 12 kids to become prodigies. The two shows join Amsale Girls, about young women working at brida-gown maker Amsale, which debuts on June 12. WE tv also has picked up two Canadian series: Family Restaurant, about a family-run Chinese restaurant, and a second season of The Cupcake Girls.
Fox has renewed flagship animated comedy series Family Guy for a tenth season and its spinoff The Cleveland Show for a fourth season. The two shows are part of Seth MacFarlane’s toon troika on Fox, along with American Dad, which was recently renewed for a seventh season. Family Guy and Cleveland Show are on different production schedules. Family Guy is now in its ninth season, while Cleveland Show only in its second, so it has been assured to stay on through the 2012-13 season. “For nine seasons, our viewers have been cracked up, delighted, surprised and, at times, gloriously disturbed by the mind of Seth MacFarlane – and they keep coming back for more,” Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly said. “The Griffins and the Browns have become cornerstones of our Sunday nights, and we can’t wait to find out what new adventures Seth, Mike and Rich cook up for them next season.”
E! has renewed After Lately, the mocumentary set behind the scenes of Chelsea Handler’s late-night show for the network, Chelsea Lately. Production on Season 2 of the reality/improv series is set to begin shortly. After Lately wrapped its first season April 24, averaging nearly 1 million total viewers each week and improving the 11 PM slot by 50%. “This series is comedic to its core and showcases Chelsea and her hilarious team in a fun and innovative way,” said Lisa Berger, E!’s president of entertainment programming. In addition to Handler, the cast of the show includes Chuy Bravo, Sarah Colonna, Brad Wollack, Chris Franjola, Heather McDonald, Jeff Wild, Johnny Kansas, Steve Marmalstein and Chelsea’s brother Roy. After Lately is executive produced by Chelsea Handler and Tom Brunelle.
It turns out that today is National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy and, to commemorate it, MTV just announced a fourth-season renewal of its docu-series Teen Mom, a spinoff from the hit 16 and Pregnant. Season 3 of Teen Mom will premiere July 5. Additionally, MTV is rolling out a series of new PSAs featuring Teen Mom stars Amber, Catelynn, Farrah and Maci talking candidly about sex, pregnancy and prevention.
USA is keeping its streak of renewing every new series alive with a second-season pickup for Fairly Legal. The top cable network will make the announcement at its upfront presentation in New York later today. Production on 13 new episodes will begin in late summer for a premiere in the first quarter of 2012. While a solid performer — Fairly Legal launched as the top new cable drama of the year in adults 18-49 and has averaged a 4.6 million total viewers in Live+7 — the legal dramedy has not been a breakout series like most of USA’s recent entries. The renewal decision was made based on the show’s appealing star, Sarah Shahi, and its potential, USA’s co-presidents Jeff Wachtel and Chris McCumber said. “We think there is a creative and audience upside to the show,” Wachtel said. “Not every first season is the best, and we think it is a show that can do better.” He didn’t elaborate, but I hear the network is planning changes in the series’ creative direction for Season 2. McCumber singled out the series’ “breakout star,” Shahi, and defended its ratings performance, noting that the series did well against stiff competition in the Thursday 10 PM time slot. Created by Michael Sardo, Fairly Legal centers on mediator Kate Reed (Shahi). It co-stars are Michael Trucco, Virginia Williams and Baron Vaughn. Sardo is exec producing with Steve Stark for Universal Cable Prods.
Like it did with Boardwalk Empire in September, HBO just renewed Game of Thrones moments after the ratings for the premiere episode were in. For Game of Thrones, those ratings were solid, not great. But, also like with Boardwalk Empire, HBO invested in elaborate sets and designs in re-creating the world from George R.R. Martin’s books, so a second season was considered a sure thing. And while HBO brass pay attention to ratings, the numbers have never been the deciding factor in the network’s renewal decisions as proven by the pickups of shows like Treme, Bored to Death and In Treatment. “We are delighted by the way David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have brought George R.R. Martin’s amazing book series to the screen, and thrilled by the support of the media and our viewers,” HBO’s head of programming Michael Lombardo said.
In its heavily promoted premiere Sunday night, HBO’s new fantasy series landed between True Blood and Boardwalk Empire ratings-wise. For its debut 9 PM airing, Game of Thrones drew 2.2 million viewers, down 54% from the September premiere of Boardwalk Empire but up 57% from the 1.4 million who tuned in for the debut of True Blood three years ago.
At a press event in New York today, IFC announced that it has renewed freshman news show Onion News Network for a second season. Additionally, IFC has greenlit four new original docu series: Commercial Kings from Reveille; Young, Broke & Beautiful, produced by 44 Pictures; Whisker Wars, produced by Thom Beers’ Original Prods. (hint: it involves men’s facial hair, not cats as the title might suggest); and Bullet in the Face, created and written by Alan Spencer. IFC also announced two original series currently in development: an untitled variety show hosted by Comedy Death-Ray’s Scott Aukerman, and Pointless, created by Ethan Berlin and Eric Bryant, which came to IFC through the New York Television Festival. In addition to Onion, IFC recently renewed two other freshman comedy series, The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret and Portlandia. Here are detailed descriptions of IFC’s new series and projects in development: