Jason Ritter has signed a development deal with Universal Media Studios to star in a new hourlong drama series from Parenthood and Friday Night Lights exec producer Jason Katims. Our sister site TVLine broke the news today. That means Ritter will stick around at NBC, where his drama The Event aired for one season, and also stick with Katims, who cast him as Lauren Graham’s love interest last season on Parenthood. Ritter, repped by ICM and manager Joannie Burstein, will reprise that role this season on multiple episodes. What remains unclear is the fate of Ritter’s former series The Event, which we reported last month was trying to find a way to land on its feet at sister network Syfy. Talks about the financial feasibility of moving a network show to cable did take place, but it’s been quiet on that front for a while.
Minutes after NBC canceled freshman The Event on the unlucky Friday, May 13, the show’s creator Nick Wauters and executive producer Steve Stark told fans that there was a possibility for the sci-fi drama to continue elsewhere. That possibility is now taking shape. I hear there are talks with Syfy to pick up The Event as a miniseries. Helping things is the fact that Syfy and The Event producer, Universal Media Studios, are NBCUniversal corporate siblings. But migrating a broadcast show to cable is never easy, and I hear discussions are underway to see if it would be financially feasible for The Event to continue on Syfy. If that happens and if the mini does well, it could potentially launch another season of the alien drama. Syfy has been active post-upfronts this year. The cable network also has been kicking the tires of the Fox pilot Locke & Key, but there haven’t been any substantial discussions.
UPDATE: No surprise there – NBC has pulled the plug on the low-rated sci-fi drama The Event, which started off strongly but quickly fizzled. But there is a twist, and it’s not only the big surprise planned by the producers for the finale. Talks are underway with at least one distribution partner to take over the serialized drama. The Event executive producer Steve Stark wouldn’t comment, but I hear new original programming player Netflix’s name tossed around. Word is that there has been interest from several cable and digital entities. Stark said that they are exploring the opportunities with the “full support” of the studio, UMS. “NBC has been an amazing partner, it launched the show beautifully,” he said. Added creator Nick Wauters: “We have a dedicated fan base, and we promised them we will deliver one way or another and will continue to tell our stories.”
It was another sad Monday ratings performance for NBC, which hit another season low on the night with all original programming. Chuck (1.3/4) was even with last week, tying its series low. But it also delivered NBC’s highest demo rating last night. The Event (1.1/3) was down 13% from its last original two weeks ago for a series low. And the relaunch of Law & Order: Los Angeles continues to sputter. In its second week since the series’ return last Monday, the Law & Order spinoff drew a 1.1/3, down a steep 27% from the two-hour midseason premiere last week. Such an underwhelming performance bodes well for David E. Kelley’s Harry’s Law, which did better in the slot earlier this midseason.
ABC’s Dancing With the Stars performance show (3.9/11) was down 13% from last week to rank as the lowest-rated spring performance telecast ever for the venerable reality franchise. In its special airing after Dancing, a new Cougar Town (2.3/6) was down 15% from its last original Feb. 2. Proving that comedy series do better in a block, even with a weaker lead-in, that last original followed a Modern Family repeat. The first of a slew of specials about the upcoming Royal Wedding, ABC News: William & Catherine: A Modern Fairytale, averaged a 1.7/4 at 10 PM.
ABC dominated the ratings last night with the two-hour season finale of The Bachelor (4.5/12, 13.8 million viewers) and The Bachelor: After the Final Rose special (4.7/12, 13.9 million). Both were down from last spring, the finale by 15% in 18-49, the post-finale special by 11%. In 18-49, it was the lowest-rated Bachelor finale in almost 3 years, since May 2008. Still, the finale hit a season high and was up a whopping 29% from the most recent regular episode. In total viewers, the Bachelor closer was the third most watched in the last 11 seasons. For the night, ABC (4.5/12, 13.9 million) posted a season high in 18-49 and logged its highest Monday average in almost a year.
Fox and NBC, which aired originals against ABC’s Bachelor-themed lineup, were both down from their last originals, with most series posting lows. House (3.5/10) was down 8% from last week, The Chicago Code was off by 5%. NBC’s Chuck (1.6/5) was down 6% from its last original 2 weeks ago to a series low. The Event (1.2/3) tumbled 14% from its disappointing two-hour spring premiere last week to also hit a series low. At 10 PM, Harry’s Law (1.7/5, 10 million) was down 6%, tying its series low, but drew its largest overall audience in 6 weeks.
The only original on CBS was new comedy Mad Love (2.1/6), which was down 13% from last week for a series low. Both weeks it followed …
NBC just released the dates for the season finales of its series. The way some of them are floundering (The Event, Chuck, Outsourced, Perfect Couples), those may as well be series finales. Three of the network’s comedies, flagship The Office, Parks & Recreation and Community, will have hourlong closers. Here is the list, from the newest drama, Harry’s Law, on Apr. 4 to the oldest reality series, The Biggest Loser, on April 24:
EXCLUSIVE: After a two-year run as an independent producer, Steve Stark has signed an overall deal with Universal Media Studios. He is already in business with the studio on the freshman UMS drama series for NBC The Event, which he brought to the network and is now executive producing. He also has a long-standing relation with NBC through the Grammnet/CBS Studios-produced Medium, on which he serves as an executive producer. The supernatural crime drama started off on NBC where it aired for 5 seasons before moving to CBS. Additionally, Stark is executive producing the upcoming USA light legal drama Fairly Legal.
EXCLUSIVE: Oscar nominated actress Virginia Madsen (Sideways) is joining NBC’s freshman drama The Event as a recurring. The actress — who’s coming off of ABC’s summer series Scoundrels — will play Catherine Lewis, the widow of a U.S. senator from Alaska who has assumed her husband’s post. A former powerhouse attorney, the Harvard grad is determined to carry out her husband’s legacy at any cost. As Deadline told you back in November, the role was originally offered to Friday Night Lights MVP Connie Britton. The Event is currently on hiatus and is slated to return to the schedule on Feb. 28. Michael Ausiello is contributing to Deadline.com and Movieline.com as he preps for the January launch of TVLine.com, a new TV-centric website from MMC.