Neal H. Moritz has signed an overall deal with CBS Television Studios for his Original Film banner. Under the pact, Moritz and Vivian Cannon will develop and executive produce one-hour and half-hour series projects. In TV, Original was previously based at Sony, where Moritz also has a long-standing relationship on the feature side. Through Sony TV, Moritz and Cannon most recently executive produced Showtime’s The Big C and NBC’s Save Me. Moritz previously executive produced the Fox/20th drama Prison Break. In features Moritz, producer of the hit Fast And Furious franchise, has the upcoming R.I.P.D. starring Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds. He is repped by UTA for television and attorney Howard Abramson.
Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
Showtime and the producers of The Big C end Cathy Jamison’s personal cancer saga in hospice care tonight with its fourth and Hereafter season finale. Executive producer and showrunner Jenny Bicks naturally declined to divulge whether Cathy (Laura Linney) dies tonight, though she and fellow exec producer Darlene Hunt co-wrote. The mini-series’ four last episodes span a year in the life of the lead character, each separated by roughly three months. The finale follows Angelina Jolie’s shocking May 14 announcement that she had undergone a preventive double mastectomy, which spurred a slew of press calls to Showtime and the Big C team. Bicks, herself an early-stage breast cancer survivor, told Deadline. “It has really drawn attention to us in a way we couldn’t have anticipated,” she said. “I hope we’ve done something to help more people recognize that cancer isn’t any longer this thing you whisper about behind a closed door. And it isn’t necessarily a disease you necessarily have to die from.”
EXCLUSIVE: As her comedy-drama The Big C recently wrapped its four-season run on Showtime with a miniseries-style final installment, the series’ creator/executive producer Darlene Hunt is staying in business with its studio Sony Pictures TV. Hunt has signed a new two-year, seven-figure overall deal with Sony TV, where she has been since the 2010 launch of The Big C and under an overall deal since 2011. In addition to her work on The Big C, Hunt has been developing for Sony and sold a comedy to CBS this season. She also stepped in to help on the studio’s NBC series Save Me earlier this year as a showrunner. Hunt, repped by UTA, Mosaic and Joel McKuin, is also an actress and has been recurring on NBC’s Parks And Recreation.
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
Showrunners of the Showtime cancer comedy The Big C were split originally in their relative level of optimism over whether they thought the show would be renewed to wrap up the story, as they related this afternoon during a TCA panel promoting The Big C: Hereafter. The new title reflects the show’s new format in its fourth and final season. Showtime is sending it off with four hour-long installments, miniseries-style, after it existed previously as a half-hour. The opportunity to give Big C a conclusion of any sort was appreciated by exec producers Jenny Bicks and Darlene Hunt, who offered differing views on whether this day would ever come. Bicks believed that it would. “I felt optimistic that we’d be able to finish it”, she said. Hunt admitted she was less positive. “I felt certain that it wasn’t coming back,” she said. “I kept hearing we were on the cusp and they weren’t sure” about bringing the show back. Happily, she was wrong and Bicks right.
Bicks recalled during the session how the idea for the conclusion came about. “The ending came out of a lovely conversation with (Showtime entertainment chief) David Nevins. We spoke specifically about how important it was …
Showtime has tweaked the title of its cancer comedy The Big C as it heads to its final installment of four hourlong episodes. Titled The Big C: hereafter, the final season is branded as “a four-part limited event series,” indicating that Showtime likely plans to submit it in the movie/mini-series categories the way FX does with American Horror Story.
The Big C: hereafter stars Laura Linney, Oliver Platt, John Benjamin Hickey, Gabriel Basso and Gabourey Sidibe. Joining the cast are Kathy Najimy and designer Isaac Mizrahi. Najimy will appear in all four episodes as Cathy’s (Linney) no-nonsense therapist who will help her deal with the challenges she faces. Mizrahi, who will appear in several episodes as himself, will play a fashion mentor to Andrea (Sidibe), who will start design school. The Big C was created by Darlene Hunt, who executive produces alongside showrunner Jenny Bicks. Sony TV is producing.
At the top of the Showtime executive session at TCA, entertainment president David Nevins announced that cancer comedy The Big C will conclude its run with a “special limited run of 4 hourlong installments. “From its inception it has been unique in tone,” Nevins said of the dark comedy, praising creator Darlene Hunt and showrunner Jenny Bicks, who, along with star Laura Linney, are set to return for the final chapter. “The show began in the summer in Season 1, went through spring and winter in Seasons 2 and 3″ and will conclude in “a new form-breaking way.” The departures of The Big C and Weeds have been part of what has been “a transformative year for us,” Nevins said, “time for renewal and reinvention when we’re saying good-bye to some beloved series and getting ready to welcome some new ones.”
Nevins also gave an update on the status of several other Showtime series. He said that drama Dexter going for two more seasons is still “the likely scenario”, but “I’d be stupid if I didn’t leave the door open… Everything is getting rewired this season in an interesting way, we’ll see where that carries us.”
I hear Showtime‘s cancer comedy The Big C will make it a full circle with a pickup for a fourth and final season. There has been chatter recently about the series starring Laura Linney coming to an end. Showtime brass are expected to address the issue at the network’s TCA executive session this afternoon. I hear The Big C was designed to run for four seasons, with each season chronicling a calendar season of Cathy’s (Linney) life following her cancer diagnosis. The producers of the Sony TV series have stuck to the template for the first three cycles and are expected to close the storyline a year after it started. The Big C, created by Darlene Hunt and run by Jenny Bicks, had a strong ratings start, tapering off in Seasons 2 and 3. It earned star Linney a Golden Globe and an Emmy nomination. The Big C would be one of two Showtime comedies renewed for a final season, along with veteran Weeds.
Moving from Monday to Sunday, Showtime’s dark comedy Nurse Jackie opened its fourth season with 653,000 viewers at 9 PM last night, up 7% from last season’s premiere. Meanwhile, fellow dark comedy The Big C, which also switched from Mondays to Sundays, dropped 35% to 581,000 viewers for its third season premiere at 9:30 PM. At 10 PM, the second season of The Borgias launched with 604,000 viewers, down 43% from last year’s series debut. Showtime notes that all 3 series have been available online prior to their premieres, with the second season opener of The Borgias amassing 1.13 million views, though it is unclear how many of those watching were Showtime subscribers.
Tammy Blanchard has booked a three-episode arc on the Showtime dark comedy series The Big C. She will play Giselle, a sexy, married, and uninhibited pilates instructor who enters into an unconventional relationship with Cathy’s (Laura Linney) brother Sean (John Benjamin Hickey). Her growing affection for Sean and her adventurous sense of romance fulfills and complicates his life in ways he never expected. Blanchard, repped by ICM and Red Letter Entertainment, was recently seen in Moneyball. She is currently appearing on Broadway in How To Succeed and next stars opposite Kristin Davis in the Lifetime movie Of Two Minds.
Arron Shiver and newcomer Meg Steedle have landed recurring roles on HBO’s prohibition-era mob drama Boardwalk Empire. Shiver will play Dean O’Banion, based on the real-life florist-gangster of Prohibition Chicago and Al Capone’s nemesis. Steedle will play Billy Kent, a Broadway actress, the ‘pony,’ the third girl from the left, the quirky one you find yourself watching when your eyes are supposed to be on the star. Billy is charming, funny but also capable of breaking your heart. Shiver, repped by Global Artists Agency and managers Eunice Lee and Tim Jordan, will next be seen in the pilot episode of A&E’s new drama series Longmire and in Gore Verbinski’s Lone Ranger. For Steedle, repped by Abrams and Principal Entertainment, this is only her …
Showtime has renewed The Big C for a third season ahead of the dark comedy series’ second season finale on Sept. 26. Ten new episodes will go into production starting early next year for debut in the second quarter of 2012. The Big C is created and written by Darlene Hunt, who serves as executive producer, along with showrunner Jenny Bicks, Laura Linney, Neal …
Here’s is the Deadline/TVline assessment of 2011 Emmy comedy races:
Deadline/TVline: 2011 Comedy Series Overview
Competition for Emmy nominations among this year’s Outstanding Comedy Series contestants is no laughing matter. The showdown between two 20th Century TV hits is more intense than ever, with Modern Family and Glee. That is, if a duo of up-and-comers — Community or Parks and Recreation — don’t act as spoilers. Past Emmy stalwarts 30 Rock or The Office could resurface. Or Showtime’s bold female-skewing dramedies Nurse Jackie or newbie The Big C might seize the spotlight. CBS’ The Big Bang Theory could finally score a nod or How I Met Your Mother in its sixth season. Underdogs include ABC’s The Middle and Fox’s Raising Hope.
Deadline: Do We Need A Dramedy Category?
Deadline: ‘Modern Family’s Chris Lloyd
Deadline: ‘The Big C’s Jenny Bicks
Deadline: ‘Parks & Recreation’s Michael Schur
Deadline: ‘Community’s Dan Harmon
Deadline: ‘Nurse Jackie’s Brixius & Wallem
Deadline: 10 Comedies Pick Best Episodes
While some comedy series producers are still finalizing their selection of episodes to submit for Emmy nomination consideration, most have already chosen their best. Each series may submit 6 episodes for the Outstanding Comedy Series, as …
Competition for Emmy nominations among this year’s Outstanding Comedy Series contestants is no laughing matter. The showdown between two 20th Century TV hits is more intense than ever, with Modern Family showrunners Steve Levitan and Christopher Lloyd trying to score their second consecutive Emmy win, while Glee executive producer Ryan Murphy is hoping to edge them out. That is, if one or more of a duo of up-and-comers — Community or Parks and Recreation — don’t act as spoilers. Then again, past Emmy stalwarts 30 Rock or The Office could resurface. Or Showtime’s bold, female-skewing dramedies Nurse Jackie or newbie The Big C might seize the spotlight. And don’t rule out the possibility of CBS’ The Big Bang Theory finally scoring a nod in its fourth season, or How I Met Your Mother receiving recognition in its sixth. And then there are the underdogs. As The Middle’s co-showrunner Eileen Heisler (with DeAnn Heline) says about ABC’s Wednesday night lineup, “We’re really grateful to Modern Family for bringing attention to family shows. We’ve benefi tted from their success, but I think it takes a little longer for people to realize the next door neighbor in The Middle is edgy and wry.”
If Modern Family does repeat, no ABC sitcom has managed that feat since Taxi more than 30 years ago. Of course, NBC’s won three years running. And Frasier took home a record five in succession between 1994 and 1998. So it can be done. But that doesn’t mean Modern Family’s Christopher Lloyd thinks it’s a shoo-in. “Among certain segments of the blogosphere who first anointed the show that everybody is supposed to be watching, there’s another rush to declare that it stinks now. And then there will be others who’ll want to say ‘I told you so’ when it wins again.”
There’s general agreement it would take a miracle for any freshman broadcast network comedy to crash this year’s top comedy series’ Emmy party, with the possible exception of Fox’s Raising Hope. Though there’s a sliver of daylight for a newbie cable show like The Big C, despite the fact it’s a dramedy. Cable continues to make inroads in the comedy series categories, evidenced by Showtime’s Nurse Jackie capturing eight Emmy nominations last year, including one for top comedy; with Showtime’s Weeds as well as HBO’s Entourage and Curb Your Enthusiasm landing series nods in recent years. This year, TV Land’s Hot in Cleveland has Emmy buzz. But only one cable comedy has ever won: HBO’s Sex and the City in 2001.
Here’s our assessment of the chances for this year’s comedy series in alphabetical order:
Although the NBC hitcom’s three-year winning streak ended last year (done in by ABC’s freshman breakout, Modern Family), it remains an industry darling — with good reason. While not as consistent as its earlier seasons, its comedy quality never seems to wane. So, without ever actually going away, it could be primed for a comeback. But the show, which celebrated its 100th episode this season, may also be mistakenly placed in the “been there, done that” category, even with red-hot writer/producer/actress/author Tina Fey at the helm (the recent Tracy Morgan scandal notwithstanding). But if the Academy revisits NBC’s quirky workplace comedies, they just might opt for the newer Parks and Recreation or Community.
THE BIG BANG THEORY
As popular as this CBS smash is, it has yet to be Emmy nominated despite originality in its scripts and ensemble. Kudos to the producers for broadening the cast this season and stepping up the romance for Mayim Bialik’s and Melissa Rauch’s roles, especially after Jim Parsons was acknowledged as last year’s Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series winner for nerd-chic hilarity. If you’re going to vote for a Chuck Lorre show this year, this one’s decidedly less baggage-laden than Two and a Half Men, which lost its Sheen.
THE BIG C
With lead Laura Linney considered a shoo-in for an Emmy nod, a side effect is that her show’s chances of breaking into the Outstanding Comedy Series Emmy race likely increases as well. Question is, did they increase enough? Is the TV Academy ready to honor a dark comedy centering on a woman’s battle with cancer? Perhaps it’s time. If so, there could be two Showtime noms in this category for the first time, assuming Nurse Jackie repeats. Says showrunner Jenny Bicks, “It’s not going to be an easy fight for us.”
Forever floating on the renewal bubble (it will live on for a fifth and final short season of 13 episodes next season), Chuck has a well-earned reputation as The Little Show that Could. But, plucky as it is, the unlikely spy yarn remains a significant Emmy long-shot. Besides, NBC already has a couple of potential sleeper contenders at the ready in Parks and Recreation and Community.
What is arguably NBC’s most innovative comedy shoots high creatively but has yet to land commensurate ratings. Critics, however, have been quick to sing the show’s praises, perhaps loudly enough to help get it noticed by Emmy voters. Remember when Fox’s Arrested Development used critical praise to trump low viewership? Showrunner Dan Harmon likens Community’s comedy to “Krispy Kreme — we just have to get it into people’s mouths.” Or, in the case of Academy voters, into their DVD players.
In its second season, the wine-soaked “Friends for grownups” really came into its own as an ensemble comedy rather than just a Courteney Cox vehicle. And it’s even poking fun at the icky title that long ago ceased to have anything to do with the series premise. Nonetheless, it’s probably not ABC’s Wednesday night show with the most heat in this comedy category because of Modern Family.
EASTBOUND & DOWN
This back-to-fi rst-base comedy about a washed-up baseball player enjoys the prestige of HBO and the marquee value of Will Ferrell as a producer. But it’s perhaps too raunchy for older TV Academy voters. Given that producer-star Danny McBride says this forthcoming third season will be its last, Eastbound & Down likely will strike out Emmy-wise.
After landing nominations in the top comedy category for three years running, HBO’s Hollywood insider send-up didn’t make the cut the last go-round. If shut out again, it’s because Academy voters have moved on from an aging series that returns for its shortened eighth and final season on July 24th. It didn’t help when news leaked out in May that HBO pulled it from broadcast syndication by Warner Bros Domestic TV.
If the television industry’s insiders love anything more than laughing, it’s laughing at itself (see 30 Rock, Curb Your Enthusiasm). And there’s been buzz about how this Showtime Brits-out-of-water comedy reinvented Matt LeBlanc. But, even if he might, the series probably doesn’t have a high enough profile yet to garner an Emmy nod.
In 2009, the Fox show that wouldn’t die became the first animated series in nearly half a century to win an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Comedy Series. But it was shut out the very next year. So expect the next TV Academy recognition for Family Guy around 2060. One question mark is whether the toon’s unique in-your-face way of campaigning for Emmy helps or hurts to sway voters. Then again, this is the comedy series category.
EXCLUSIVE: The Big C creator/executive producer Darlene Hunt has signed a two-year overall deal with the series’ producer Sony Pictures Television. Under the pact, part of the new breed of “showveralls,” writer-comedian-actress Hunt will continue on The Big C, which is now in production on Season 2. Hunt is focused on writing duties for the Showtime series, serving as an executive producer alongside showrunner Jenny Bicks, who also just signed an overall deal with Sony TV. Additionally, she will develop a project for the studio while The Big C is in hiatus.
“It was a long time coming,” Hunt said of landing her first series order with The Big C. “I’ve been writing pilots for 10 years.” That includes the 2003 ABC pilot Platonically Incorrect, directed by Tom Shadyac, and several projects at Sony TV in the last 3-4 years. “It was always a great experience,” Hunt said about working with the the studio.”You become a little family, you get used to getting notes from the same people and develop a shorthand.” One of those shows she developed with Sony was The Big C, the first project she ever pitched to a cable network. It went to pilot at Showtime and attracted Bill Condon as director in his pilot-directing debut and Laura Linney as star in her first regular series gig. The dark comedy about Cathy (Linney), a woman diagnosed with cancer, earned its first major awards …
Alan Alda, best known for his portrayal of Army hospital doctor Hawkeye Pierce on M*A*S*H, will put on a white coat again for a guest appearance on Showtime’s dark comedy The Big C, playing an oncologist who Cathy Jamison (Laura Linney) consults after her previous treatment failed. Additionally, Hugh Dancy is joining the cast of the Sony TV-produced series as a recurring.
Showtime has set premiere dates for returning series Weeds, The Big C, The Real L Word and Secret Diary of a Call Girl and newcomers Gigolos and Web Therapy:
SECRET DIARY OF A CALL GIRL (Final Season)
Premiere: April 7th at 10:30 PM, 8 Episodes
Premiere: April 7th at 11 PM, 8 Episodes
THE REAL L WORD (Season 2)
Premiere: Sunday, June 5th at 10 PM, 9 Episodes
WEEDS (Season 7)
Premiere: Monday, June 27th at 10 PM, 13 Episodes
THE BIG C (Season 2)
Premiere: Monday, June 27th at 10:30 PM, 13 Episodes
Premiere: July 19th at 11 PM, 10 Episodes
The Big C executive producer and cancer survivor Jenny Bicks bought a Porsche when she was diagnosed with cancer. “Don’t wait to get cancer to make yourself happy,” she said at the TCA panel for the upcoming Showtime dark comedy series starring Laura Linney as a woman diagnosed with cancer.
Creator/executive producer Darlene Hunt dismissed suggestions that terminal cancer would be an off-putting subject for TV. “My favorite series ever is MASH… And who likes a war? Not me. A lot of people watched that show.”
Co-star Oliver Platt was very poetic. “The show asks an incredibly beautiful question: Why do we start to live beautifully only when we get a death sentence,” he said before turning to executive producer Vivian Cannon: “It’s time for a cancer comedy?”
After the session, Deadline contributor Diane Haithman asked series regular Gabourey Sidibe to comment on Howard Stern’s tirade about her on his radio show. “Everyone makes rude comments, it’s not the first rude comment I’ve heard it my life,” she said. “People outside of my life, it doesn’t matter what they say because they have no idea what’s in my life.”
At the panel, The Precious star reflected on what she called “a strange year,” in which the showbiz novice landed an Oscar nomination for her film debut.
“Geez, I thought I’d be a receptionist. I’m always middle of the main, I’ve always led a very normal life…, I ride the subway, I ride the bus… It just shows that whatever plan you have for your life, …