Broadcast networks’ infatuation with lower-license-fee internationally produced drama series, which began during the run-up to the 2007 writers strike, is entering a major new phase with NBC’s midseason scheduling of the Entertainment One-produced 22-episode drama The Firm, based on John Grisham’s novel and the Tom Cruise-starring movie. Back in 2007, two of the acquired series stockpiled by the U.S. networks as strike contingency, Flashpoint by CBS and Crusoe by NBC, aired in-season on Fridays and Saturdays, and Flashpoint even got a brief turn in the Thursday 10 PM slot when the broadcast nets ran out of originals at the height of the labor dispute. But since then, NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox have largely limited lower-license-fee drama series acquisitions to summer runs. (Fox’s attempt to extend the run of such a series, The Good Guys, into the regular season backfired.) Then in April, NBC picked up The Firm based on a spec script by Lucas Reiter. Two weeks later, at NBC’s upfront presentation, the network announced The Firm as a midseason replacement to air on Sundays. And today, the straight-to-series drama was upgraded to the Thursday 10 PM slot, which for years had been considered NBC’s top drama slot, home of such iconic series as Hill Street Blues, LA Law and ER.
ProSiebenSat.1´s production and distribution company Red Arrow Entertainment Group has acquired a majority stake in manager/producer Mikkel Bondesen’s U.S. production company Fuse. The Denmark-born Bondesen launched his U.S. production company in 2005. Its credits include USA’s Burn Notice and Fox’s The Good Guys, both created by Bondesen’s client Matt Nix, as well as AMC’s The Killing, whose format Bondesen brought to the U.S. from Denmark. All three series have been produced by Fox TV Studios, where Bondesen and Fuse have a first-look deal. Since its January 2010 launch, Red Arrow has been acquiring TV production companies and now owns majority stake in 12 companies spanning eight countries. Its first move in the U.S. was last year’s acquisition of 51% interest in Chris Coelen’s Kinetic Content, which specializes in unscripted series. The Fuse deal gives Red Arrow a similar foothold in the U.S. marketplace on the scripted side. As part of the Fuse deal, Swedish producer Henrik Bastin (ABC’s My Generation) has joined Fuse as partner and CEO and the company’s development executive Kristen Campo has been upped to partner.
Fox is not officially confirming yet but it is as final as it gets: The Good Guys won’t be returning for a second season. Fox originally picked up Matt Nix’s cop dramedy straight-to-series for a summer run. In May, before the show had premiered, the network ordered additional episodes and put it on the fall schedule to air on Fridays. But, despite getting a preview run behind American Idol, the series starring Bradley Whitford and Colin Hanks never gained traction and performed underwhelmingly for its entire 20-episode run.
Fox’s Kevin Reilly And Mike Darnell On ‘American Idol’ & ‘Fringe’ Moves; No Back Orders For ‘Running Wilde’ & ‘Good Guys’
“We have been looking at Thursday for a long time,” Fox’s reality chief Mike Darnell said. “It is a tough nut to crack, and if you want to crack it, you have to make a big move there.” Idol has been the biggest show on television for 8 years, so why make this move now? It was CBS’ surprising decision in May to take another reality juggernaut, Survivor, off Thursdays that set the Idol shift idea in motion, Darnell said. With Idol itself going through a major transition with new judges Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler and without Simon Cowell, Fox brass decided to wait and see how the show’s production was going and, happy with what they’d seen so far, they pulled the trigger on the scheduling change. “It felt like the right time to make the move,” Darnell said. “Now we can own Thursday.”
Seeing the door opening at 8 PM on Thursday with Survivor gone was a major but not the only factor for the Idol move, Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly said. “At the same time, we’re looking at what’s going on on Tuesday where we are winning the night with Glee, which, after airing after the Super Bowl, will probably end the season as the highest-rated scripted series.” Glee was originally slated to …
EXCLUSIVE: Fox’s buddy cop dramedy The Good Guys will undergo some tweaking before it returns with fresh episodes in the fall. I hear the focus will be on attracting more female viewers. The show is adding a new recurring female character, a young CSI, that could potentially become a regular. There also will be more emphasis on romantic relationships, with the new character part of that effort. Additionally, RonReaco Lee, who guest starred in the pilot and appeared in 2 more episodes this summer as bumbling criminal Julius, is expected to heavily recur in the fall. (He is regular on another series, BET’s upcoming comedy Let’s Stay Together.) The Good Guys, originally slated for a summer run, was given a fall berth in May before its premiere. The series never got traction on Mondays behind Lie to Me but the Fox executive like it creatively and have stuck with their upfront decision to bring it back in the fall on Fridays, paired with Human Target. Good Guys completed its summer run last week. Two of the 11 episodes originally ordered for summer are being held and will air with the 9 additional episodes for an 11-episode fall run.
Anticipating an avalanche of American Idol-related questions, Fox Broadcasting’s entertainment chairman Peter Rice made an opening statement at the top of the network’s executive session. “The only thing I an tell you with absolute certainty is there are no signed deals with anyone on either side of the camera who wasn’t on the show last year,” he said, referring to judges as well as returning executive producer Nigel Lythgoe. Rice did confirm that Ellen DeGeneres met with him at the beginning of June. ”We talked about the season and her feelings about the season, the idea that she wasn’t comfortable and that it was not a good fit for her,” he said. “I tried to persuade her that it would be different in the future, but we ultimately came to an agreement. We were going to begin looking for new judges anyway, because Simon was leaving, so as that was going to play out over the summer, we came to an agreement to go to her and say: we can’t replace you, or we can move on without you. [DeGeneres is in the middle of a 2-year deal with Idol.] That’s where we got to last week. We felt confident that we could come up with a panel that didn’t include Ellen as a judge, and at the same time we knew we were coming here on Monday. We felt it was disingenuous to sit here and talk about Ellen being …
What’s up with TV and Texas this season? This fall’s crop of new TV series includes NBC’s Chase shooting in Dallas, and ABC’s My Generation, shooting in Austin. At today’s TCA, Fox presented the new drama Lone Star — which, with that title, couldn’t really be set anywhere else. The show’s lead character (played by relative newcomer James Wolk) has two wives and two lives in two different locations, Houston and Midland. It will actually be shot in Dallas, the setting for another Fox series introduced earlier this year, The Good Guys. (Executive producer Peter Horton, who plans to direct some episodes, he joked of his involvement: “I thought it was going to be shot in San Francisco.”)
Lone Star creator/executive producer (and native Texan) Kyle Killen explained that when he pitched the series, ”I sold it as Dallas without the cheese.