‘The Middle’ Producers Are OK With “Underrated”: TCA

By | Thursday January 10, 2013 @ 5:37pm PST

Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.

Modern Family is such a hit for ABC that entertainment president Paul Lee just referred to it as simply “Modern” during a morning TCA panel. Everyone on the planet would know what show he meant.

But if ratings are any indication, the TV viewership is not on such a first-name basis with another ABC Wednesday night comedy, The Middle. At today’s late afternoon panel on the show, executive producers DeAnn Heline and Eileen Heisler joked that they were going to go to a bar and have a drink for every time a TV critic calls the show “underrated.”

Related: ‘Body Of Proof’ Producers On Season 3 Changes: TCA Read More »

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RATINGS RAT RACE: NBC Comedies Up, ABC Comedies Down, ‘Supernatural’ On Par

By | Thursday October 4, 2012 @ 9:55am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Accurate ratings for the night’s top attraction, the first Presidential Debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, won’t be available until later in the day. If the non-time zone adjusted fast nationals are any indication, the broadcast networks ran neck-in-neck in their coverage of the debate, with NBC in the … Read More »

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ABC Renews Seven Hit Scripted Series; No ‘Happy Endings’… For Now

By | Thursday May 10, 2012 @ 5:51pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

UPDATED: ABC just made its “no-brainer” renewals, picking up its strongest scripted series. That includes freshmen Once Upon A Time, Suburgatory and Revenge, comedies Modern Family and The Middle and dramas Grey’s Anatomy and Castle.Read More »

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Ratings Rat Race: Another Night Of Declines As Broadcast Sched Adjusts To Time Shift

By | Thursday March 15, 2012 @ 9:32am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Last night was a miserable one for the broadcast networks, which saw wall-to-wall ratings declines as 8-10 PM 18-49 TV usage slipped 5.5% from last week, probably because of the Sunday switch to daylight savings time. Naturally, the … Read More »

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‘The Middle’s Off-Network Rights Sold To ABC Family & Broadcast Stations

By | Tuesday March 6, 2012 @ 12:35pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

UPDATED: Warner Bros Domestic TV Distribution has sold comedy series The Middle in off-network cable and broadcast syndication for a fall 2013 launch. On the cable side, ABC Family has picked up rights to the comedy, which airs on sibling … Read More »

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TV Showrunners On Women, Comedy And What It Takes To Be Funny These Days: TCA

Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of TCA.

Do shows like Don’t Trust the B— In Apartment 23, CBS’ 2 Broke Girls and the Fox series New Girl mean we’re in some kind of women’s renaissance in network TV? At this morning’s TCA session on Apartment 23, creator/executive producer Nahnatchka Khan concluded, well, maybe. But in an afternoon panel featuring producers from ABC’s successful Wednesday night comedy block, the female showrunners of The Middle, Eileen Heisler and DeAnn Heline, pointed out that they’ve been funny for some time now — behind the scenes. “It’s exciting, but we always thought women had funny things to say,” said Heisler. “I think Tina Fey — and us — poked a little hole that allowed for this. We’ve been doing it for a while, and we’re glad to have company.” The Middle is a family show, not a snarky sitcom about a bitch or an emotionally unstable female roommate. But after the panel, Heisler said the show will continue to borrow as guest stars the veterans of that classic comedy about the “girl” who’s gonna make it after all, The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Harking back to his Lou Grant character, Ed Asner will portray the editor of the local paper. Read More »

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Ratings Rat Race: ‘Survivor’ Up, Everyone Else Down As CBS Tops Night In 18-49

Nellie Andreeva

Fox and ABC, which have alternated at the top of the Wednesday 18-49 rankings this season, finished tied last night — but for second place, not first . Paced by Survivor, CBS (3.1/8) posted its first Wednesday demo win this season, edging Fox and ABC (3.0/8). Heading toward its season finale, Survivor: South Pacific (3.3/9) was up 6% from last week. Criminal Minds (3.4/8) was down 8% from its last original two weeks ago and CSI (2.5/7) was down 4%, with both series tying their season lows.

ABC’s series were up from the depressed ratings levels for their Thanksgiving Eve episodes, though those segments were labeled as specials and won’t count towards the shows’ season averages. Versus the most recent regular episodes on November 16, The Middle (2.8/8) was down a tenth fast national-to-fast national and Suburgatory (2.8/8) was flat (down a tenth from the final). Modern Family (5.0/13) was down 9% (11% from the final) to log its lowest-rated regular telecast to date, Happy Endings (2.9/7) was also down 9% and Revenge (2.4/6) was down 8%. Read More »

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Is Warner Bros And ABC’s New TV Rights Agreement “A Turning Point” For Digital And Syndication Deals?

It gets a bit technical, but Warner Bros Television Group and ABC may have cracked the code to resolve one of the TV industry’s more vexing problems: How should program producers and networks split the rights to air TV … Read More »

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RATINGS RAT RACE: ‘X Factor’ Slips, ‘Revenge’ Climbs, ‘Up All Night’ Hits Low

Nellie Andreeva

Fox’s newly renewed The X Factor returned to Wednesdays for its second live show, which delivered  a 3.9/10 among adults 18-49 and 11.5 million. That was down 10% in the demo from the fast national rating for the series’ first live-performance episode last Tuesday (X Factor usually gains a tenth in the finals, which it did again last night per data just released by Fox; its 4.0 final rating is down 9% from the final for last week’s live show). The two-hour X Factor led Fox to a decisive nightly victory in 18-49 and a very close No. 2 finish in total viewers behind CBS (3.3/9, 11.8 million).

CBS’ Survivor: South Pacific (3.5/10, 11.9 million) was up a tenth from its fast national demo rating last week, putting the reality veteran on track to post new season highs in 18-49 and total viewers for a second straight week. Last week, Survivor climbed from a 3.4 to a 3.5 in the demo to clear a new season high and will likely be adjusted up to a 3.6 today to post a new season best. Criminal Minds (3.6/9, 12.8 million) was down 8% in the demo from its last original two weeks ago, while CSI (2.7/7, 10.6 million) was up a tenth. Read More »

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RATINGS RAT RACE: World Series Opens Lower, ‘Happy Endings’ & ‘Revenge’ Slip

Nellie Andreeva

The lackluster baseball postseason on Fox continued last night with Game 1 of the World Series. Time-adjusted ratings for the game won’t be available until later today, but in the fast nationals the face-off between the Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals is tracking lower than the comparable numbers for last year’s Game 1 between the Rangers and the San Francisco Giants. Still, Fox is projected to win Wednesday night in both adults 18-49 and total viewers.

It was a case of ratings gods giveth and taketh away for ABC’s Happy Endings (3.0/7, 6.9 million) and Revenge (2.5/7, 7.9 million). After posting demo-rating increases of 14% and 8%, respectively, last week, both series gave back most of the gains, down 9% and 7%, respectively, from their fast nationals last Wednesday. (Happy Endings was adjusted down last week.) The rest of the ABC lineup was mostly status quo: The Middle (2.9/9, 9 million) and Suburgatory (3.1/8) were each up a tenth from their fast nationals last week, and Modern Family (5.6/14, 12.9 million) was down a tenth but still ranked as the top program of the night in 18-49. Read More »

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RATINGS RAT RACE: ‘Happy Endings’ & ‘Revenge’ Rise, ‘Up All Night’ & ‘CSI’ Slip

Nellie Andreeva

With baseball games on Fox and TBS, the other broadcast networks faced rather atypical competition but survived mostly unscathed. Most series were flat or very close to their levels from last week, with four exceptions. On the plus side, ABC’s sophomore Happy Endings (3.3/8 in adults 18-49), which featured Megan Mullally as a guest star, grew 14% from its fast national number last week, while its lead-in, Modern Family, was virtually unchanged. ABC’s gains carried over to the 10 PM hour where Revenge (2.7/7, 7.9 million viewers) was up 8% from its 18-49 fast national last week. (Both series were adjusted in the finals.) In the negative column, NBC’s rookie Up All Night (2.0/6) was down 9% from last week’s fast national, while CBS’ veteran CSI (2.6/7, 10.8 million) was down 10% to a season low and slipped to second place in the 10 PM hour among 18-49 behind ABC’s Revenge. CSI still topped the time period in total viewers.

Also noteworthy last night — both repeats of freshman series slated in the wake of last week’s cancellations did better than the shows they replaced: NBC’s Whitney (1.3 vs. 1.0 for Free Agents last week) and Ringer (0.4 in 18-34 and 18-49, up 33% in 18-34 and flat in 18-49; 1.2 million viewers, up 9%). Here are the numbers for the rest of the rest of the series. Read More »

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RATINGS RAT RACE: No Boot Camp Bump For ‘X Factor’ But Fox Still Wins Night

Nellie Andreeva

We’ve yet to see the ratings growth on The X Factor that Simon Cowell keeps promising, but at least the show is maintaining its ratings levels. The first 90-minute edition of the singing series, which entered the boot camp phase … Read More »

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PREMIERE WEEK: Comedies In Comeback, Dramas Mixed While NBC & CW Struggle

Nellie Andreeva

As network executives break out the “I Survived Premiere Week” T-shirts, they are probably relieved as most nets have something to brag about. Overall, the comedy genre’s comeback was in full force: Half-hour series had a big showing, claiming the top six highest-rated non-sports programs of premiere week among adults 18-49, including rookies 2 Broke Girls (7.1/16 in Live+Same Day) and New Girl (4.8/12) and returning Two and a Half Men (10.7/25), Modern Family (average of 6.1/16 for two episodes), How I Met Your Mother (5.0/13) and The Big Bang Theory (5.0/15). (Additionally, Modern Family, HIMYM and The Middle were all up double-digits from last fall’s premieres, while Big Bang was essentially flat). For comparison, the highest-rated drama series last week was veteran NCIS (4.3/12) and the highest-rated reality series was the X Factor premiere (4.4/12).

Comedies also stood out among the crop of new series, with two potential breakout hits, Fox’s New Girl and CBS’ 2 Broke Girls; two promising new entries, NBC’s Whitney (3.3/8) and Up All Night (2.4/7); and only one dud, NBC’s Free Agents (1.3/4). In contrast, there were no drama breakouts this past week, with four solid openers — ABC’s Revenge (3.3/9) and Pan Am (3.1/8) and CBS’ Person of Interest (3.1/8) and Unforgettable (2.9/8) — and three disappointments in NBC’s The Playboy Club (1.6/4) and Prime Suspect (1.8/5) and ABC’s Charlie’s Angels (2.1/6). Read More »

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RATINGS RAT RACE: ‘X Factor’ Premiere Falls Short, ‘Revenge’ Off To Strong Start

Nellie Andreeva

UPDATE: The premiere of Simon Cowell’s The X Factor drew a modest (by mega talent competition series standards) 4.2 rating/12 share in adults 18-49 and 12.1 million viewers. That fell short not only of the January season premiere of American Idol (9.7/26, 21.6 million viewers in the fast nationals) but also the April debut of NBC’s The Voice (5.1/13, 11.8 million) in the demo. It also fell well short of Cowell’s publicly stated expectations of beating Idol and attracting 20 million viewers. In the 9 PM hour, X Factor was beaten by ABC’s Modern Family in both 18-49 and total viewers and CBS’ Criminal Minds in viewers. Still, by virtue of Fox’s long history of low fall ratings, X Factor delivered Fox its first premiere week Wednesday win in 18-49 in 18 years and its highest-rated Wednesday in 13 years.

ABC (4.1/11, 11.4 million) had a great night against X Factor, with its returning series The Middle and Modern Family both growing from last fall and hitting demo series highs, and new drama Revenge launching well at 10 PM. The hourlong season premiere of The Middle (3.0/9) at 8 PM was up 11% from last September when the show’s season opener was a half-hour. At 9 PM, off its sweep at the Emmys, Modern Family (6.0/15, 14.3 million) opened its third season up 18% from the Season 2 premiere and ranked as the highest-rated program of the night in both the demo (by a wide margin) and total viewers. It also provided a strong lead-in for new soap Revenge (3.4/9, 10.1 million), which gave ABC its best debut in the Wednesday 10 PM time period in four years, outpacing last fall’s debut of The Whole Truth in the hour by 127% and topping the hour in 18-49. Read More »

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EMMYS: Deadline/TVline Comedy Races

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 … Read More »

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EMMYS: 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 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:

30 ROCK
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.”

CHUCK
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.

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.

COUGAR TOWN
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.

ENTOURAGE
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.

EPISODES
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.

FAMILY GUY
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.
Read More »

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RATINGS RAT RACE: ‘American Idol’ Shows Year-To-Year Growth In Finale

Nellie Andreeva

UPDATE: The final ratings for American Idol are in. The star-studded finale posted a 9.2 rating in adults 18-49, up 12% from last year, and 29.3 million, up 21% from last year. Some 38.6 million tuned in between 10-10:07 PM when Scotty McCreery was crown the winner. It is still the first time in five years that the finale grew year-to-year among adults 18-49 and in three years among total viewers.  

PREVIOUS: Fox’s American Idol reversed the downward finale rating trend last night. The two-hour Season 10 closer drew a 8.9/25 in adults 18-49 and 28.2 million viewers in the fast nationals. That is up 9% in the demo and 17% in total viewers from last year’s finale, the first time in five years that the reality juggernaut has posted growth for the finale among adults 18-49 and in three years among total viewers. Because of a seven-minute overrun, which is not accounted for in the fast nationals, the American Idol numbers are expected to grow further in the finals, which will be available within the hour.

The only network to put up originals against the American Idol finale was ABC, which aired the season finales of the comedies that are returning next season. Read More »

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2011 Fall Schedule: 10-11 PM Comedies Out, 8 PM Comedy Blocks And 10 PM Dramas In

Nellie Andreeva

Running out of slots for comedy series and striking out with new dramas in the fall, NBC and ABC in midseason expanded their existing two-hour comedy blocks on Thursday and Wednesday, respectively, to three hours, to largely uninspiring results. Going into next fall, the 10-11 PM comedy hours are being scrapped in favor of opening up more traditional 8-9 PM comedy blocks on other nights. In another sign of the resurgence of the comedy genre, for the first time in six years, each of the Big Four broadcast networks will have two comedy blocks on the fall schedule. Interestingly, both NBC and ABC opted to launch their new comedy blocks in the time periods where they most recently ran comedies. And just like the last time, both NBC and ABC populated the blocks with new comedies. In fall 2006, NBC launched 30 Rock and Twenty Good Years from 8-9 PM on Wednesday, the same time slot the network is using this year for new comedies Up All Night and Free Agents. ABC, which is going with the Tim Allen vehicle Last Man Standing and Chris Moynihan’s Man Up Tuesdays 8-9 PM, last tried comedies on the night in the fall of 2007, with then-newbies Cavemen and Carpoolers.

Something else happened this season: the return of the 10 PM drama. Scores of new dramas met their demise trying to get off the ground in the hour over the past few years, with the only shows to make it were modest hits Brothers and Sisters, Castle and The Good Wife. Uncertain about the prospects of 10 PM dramas, NBC even tried a Jay Leno talk show in the slot two seasons ago and had since kept the hour comedy/reality branded. But this season, all four freshman dramas to make it to Season 2 were 10 PM shows: CBS’ Hawaii Five-0 and Blue Bloods, ABC’s Body of Proof and NBC’s Harry’s Law. What’s more, for the first time in five years, all Big 3 networks have scheduled dramas in the 10 PM slot every night Sunday through Thursday. Read More »

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Ratings Rat Race: ‘Idol’ Rules Wednesday

A two-hour American Idol on Fox gave the network a big win in the primetime ratings race Wednesday. The episode was the highest-rated and most-watched of the night by far with its 23 million viewers and 7.2 preliminary rating … Read More »

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