Anna Lisa Raya is editor of Awardsline.
Mindy Kaling — creator, star, executive producer and writer on Fox’s The Mindy Project – is living her childhood dream, albeit with backbreaking, endless days on set. Her big break into TV comedy came when she was the first woman hired — at 24 — as a writer on NBC’s The Office. She’s now the first and only woman of color to run and star in her own network show. With these firsts has come great responsibilities, some of which Kaling bristles against, such as viewers’ demands that her Indian-American character date more ethnically diverse men on the show. She can’t make everyone happy, but Fox certainly is. Despite middling ratings, the critically well-received show was renewed for a third season.
AWARDSLINE: What would you say were the biggest differences between Season 1 and Season 2?
MINDY KALING: We try every season for there to be certain scenes and journeys that each of the characters go on, certainly the leads. But it’s harder because, unlike a cable show, we have 22 or 24 episodes a year so we can’t do that wonderful thing I’ll see on some of my favorite cable shows where they’ll have 12 episodes to do a full arc that in the course of two and a half months is done. Our journeys have to be longer, so usually what we do is set up a couple of different arcs, which is something I learned on The Office. The single biggest difference is that you just know the characters more this year.
Related: Women Crowd Season Finale Screening Of ‘The Mindy Project’
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As women’s roles continue to expand in society, so too are their roles growing on television. More than ever, capturing the female audience is vital to a show’s success, and that was the subject of Sunday’s smart and funny “Courting the Female Audience” panel at the Producers Guild‘s Produced By conference.
“Women are looking for nuance,” said Mara Brock-Akil, creator and executive producer of Being Mary Jane and The Game. “We’re not all beautiful and gorgeous.”
Women are also, it would appear, looking for zombies, or at least one particular set of them. “The Walking Dead is the No. 1 show for women,” said Marc Juris, WE TV president and general manager. Either way, “Female viewers are much more demanding and discerning,” said Matt Warburton, executive producer of Fox’s The Mindy Project. “They care about the quality of a show. For men, fart jokes and an explosion are enough.”
So-called “procedurals” – those ubiquitous, based-on-a-real-story crime dramas – remain popular with older women in particular, the panelists agreed, although moderator Debra Birnbaum, a contributing editor at Variety, said she finds it “hard to deal with” all the genre’s “rape and torture.” Notwithstanding The Real Housewives of Pretty Much Everywhere, reality shows offer some of the best opportunities for female viewers to see real women like themselves dealing with everyday issues that affect their lives. “Reality does a much better job,” Juris said.
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If the TV networks are wondering where their female under-25 audience was last night — they were at the Awardsline screening of Fox’s The Mindy Project. Fox always knew better than to cancel Mindy Project, and for anyone who ever had their doubts about the show’s popularity, given its low nightly ratings, look no further than the stampede of women who showed up at the Landmark Theatre in West LA to catch the season finale “Danny and Mindy” and to get a chance to meet star/executive producer Mindy Kaling and castmembers Ike Barinholtz, Adam Pally, Ed Weeks, Xosha Roquemore and Beth Grant. Making good with those who couldn’t get into the overbooked screening, Kaling threw herself into the crowd for selfies, autographs and hugs. One fan exclaimed to Kaling, “To have an Indian woman like you onscreen, who is so nuanced, so smart and witty, who has flaws and strengths, it means so much to girls like me.”
Related: ‘Mad Men’ Cast Reflect On Season Ending & Bert Cooper’s Final Dance Number
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It is the golden age of comedy now, Mindy Kaling told reporters at NBCU Press Day, because whereas once you used to have to wait 2 1/2 years for Larry David to get around to writing another season of Curb Your Enthusiasm, “now there’s always something happening” in comedy on the TV landscape. She was joined by stars of other Universal TV comedies airing on NBC and elsewhere.
Related: Mindy Kaling Exits UTA
Jenna Elfman is a big fan of single cam comedies, like her new Growing Up Fisher, because “with the Internet … audiences are more savvy, and with a single camera you can home in on nuance more than with multi-cam and capture the smarter side of the story.”
Related: NBC Press Day: Bill Lawrence Talks ‘Undateable’
Brooklyn Nine-Nine star Andy Samberg chimed in: “I was on SNL, which was live, but everything I did was pre-taped, so I was already headed in that direction. Parks and Recreation’s Adam Scott said there a “weird thing” about doing comedy on a multi-cam. “If you don’t say a joke with a particular inflection, the laughs just don’t occur. I did very badly in that format.” But he acknowledged, “Shows like Cheers were able to make it work.” Read More »
Mindy Kaling, creator, executive producer and star of Fox’s The Mindy Project, has departed UTA. She is going agent-less for the time being and has not set up meetings with other agencies but continues to be manged by 3 Arts Entertainment. Kaling was a breakout on NBC’s The Office, where was a writer and co-star, before segueing to creating her own show. Sophomore Mindy Project, which has been well received but has struggled to attract wide audiences, already has been renewed for a third season.
The exclusive licensing deal announced today makes Hulu Plus the exclusive destination for all previous seasons of Universal TV’s The Mindy Project and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, with Bravo series like The Real Housewives and Top Chef franchises and E!’s Keeping Up With The Kardashians also available exclusively in the coming weeks — and Parks And Recreation coming non-exclusively. The multi-year SVOD rights deal follows similar Hulu pacts inked in February — one an extension with CBS for 2,600 new episodes of shows including Undercover Boss, United States Of Tara, Everybody Loves Raymond, Ghost Whisperer and library fare like The Brady Bunch and Laverne & Shirley; and another with Disney/ABC Television group that netted SVOD rights to Nashville. Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins announced the deal via a blog post today.
“The death of comedy is political correctness,” Mindy Kaling said at The Mindy Project Q&A at PaleyFest. The comment was apropos of some lines delivered on the show, but could be a response to the group Media Action Network for Asian- Americans which wants Kaling’s character to stop dating so many white guys on the series. “We are concerned that in the course of two seasons, her character, Dr. Lahiri, has had a ‘white-only’ dating policy involving about a dozen men,” the org wrote the other day to Fox, noting Kaling’s “strangely defensive” response to Entertainment Weekly on the subject: “Do people really wonder on other shows if female leads are dating multicultural people? Like I owe it to every race and minority and beleaguered person. I have to become the United Nations of shows?” At PaleyFest tonight, Kaling said of her show, “My writing staff on this show is the best writing staff on television…they love women and love their characters”
Related: TCA, ‘The Mindy Project’ On Returning Guests, Haiti And That Haircut
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This is gutsy. Fox has handed early renewals for next season to comedies Brooklyn Nine-Nine, New Girl and The Mindy Project and drama The Following. Golden Globe-winning freshman Brooklyn Nine-Nine is picked up for a second season, Mindy and The Following for a third and New Girl for a fourth. They join three other Fox scripted series that already have been picked up for next season: freshman drama Sleepy Hollow; veteran Bones, renewed for a 10th season; and Glee, which has a final sixth season as part of a two-year pickup. That is a lot of programming already locked in for next season though Fox has extra holes to fill following the cancellation of The X Factor. Networks are not required to make any renewal decisions until May, and most wait to see their pilots before making decisions. Fox, of course, declared in January that it was breaking away from the pilot cycle, so the network also may be going on its own timetable with renewals. But most of all, today’s pickups are about Fox brass giving a vote of confidence to series they feel strongly about creatively.
Related: Fox’s Abolishment Of Pilot Season: Practical Guide To How Will It Work
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UPDATED: The move to Friday didn’t dent Bones‘ longevity one bit. “We are in negotiations on another season of Bones and expect it would be back (for a 10th season),” Fox chairman Kevin Reilly said during the executive session today, indicating that Season 10 will likely be the show’s last. He confirmed what we had already reported: that Bones creator/showrunner Hart Hanson will move onto his newly picked up Fox series Backstrom, with his top Bones lieutenant Stephen Nathan, who has performed day-to-day showrunner duties on the long-running Fox procedural, taking over next season. Hanson still will be involved in major decisions.
Reilly also spoke of the renewal chances of softly rated sophomore comedy The Mindy Project, which is going on hiatus in the spring. “It’s really on the money (creatively) right now,” he said. “Ratings are not where they should be, the show deserves more viewers. But is a highly upscale show we make money on.” He said Mindy‘s “little hiatus has nothing to do with its renewal chances. “I’m highly bullish on it being back next season.” Read More »
Mindy Kaling‘s show has struggled on Fox, but maybe a little home cooking will help. Bravo has a set a marathon of corporate sibling Universal TV‘s The Mindy Project for New Year’s Eve, running all 11 of the current second season’s episodes in the ordered they aired. The news comes less than a month after Fox said it will bench the sitcom from January 28 to April 1, an announcement made days after Mindy posted a series-low 1.2 rating among adults 18-49. The show is getting a monthlong production hiatus during the holidays as producers to plan for its spring relaunch. Meanwhile, Bravo’s Mindy marathon runs from 8:30 AM-2 PM Pacific, leaving viewers plenty of time to prep for “Auld Lang Syne.”
Related: ‘The Mindy Project’ Kicks Fox Decency Police
Fox is making some scheduling changes for midseason. The underperforming two-hour Tuesday comedy block will be scaled to an hour beginning February 25, when Glee will return to the Tuesday 8 PM slot where it did pretty well during the 2011-12 season. Fox brass hope that the move would help the show regain some footing, which it has lost airing behind a very weak The X Factor this fall. The hourlong Fox comedy block will consist of New Girl and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which will move to the 9:30 slot on February 4. It will replace The Mindy Project, which will go on hiatus after a winter finale on January 28, returning on April 1 after Brooklyn Nine-Nine ends its freshman run. The move comes after the sophomore comedy starring Mindy Kaling hit a new series low (1.2 in 18-49) this week. The show’s crew already has been told of the scheduling change, and Mindy is planning a month-long production hiatus around the holidays which the writers will use to regroup and plot the show’s April re-launch.
Fox also is changing its launch plans for midseason dramas The Following and Rake. Instead of premiering new legal dramedy Rake behind the NFC Championship Game on January 19 as previously announced, Fox will launch the second season of gritty drama The Following after the big game for a two-night season premiere on Sunday, January 19 and Monday, January 20 when the series will debut in its regular Monday 9 PM slot, following the season finale of Sleepy Hollow. The argument is that the dark, male skewing Following would be more compatible with the football game than the lighter, more female-friendly Rake. The new series starring Greg Kinnear will premiere January 23 in its regular Thursday 9 PM slot, following American Idol. As previously announced, new Fox comedy Enlisted will premiere on Friday, January 10, and original episodes of New Girl and Brooklyn Nine-Nine will air after the Super Bowl on February 2. Remaining unclear if the spring scheduling of comedy Dads, which will air its last originals in its Tuesday February 4 and February 11 before going on hiatus to make room for Glee. It could come back later in the season, a return date is TBD. Here are Fox’s updated winter premiere dates: Read More »
The Mindy Project showrunner appears to be fed up with notes from the Fox Decency Police, and has tweeted one such memo — presumably to embarrass the division. In its pre-shoot memo about one of the comedy’s episodes, The Fox Decency Police made these requests:
Page 13: Please substitute for Peter’s “balls” reference.
Page 28 Please substitute for Mindy’s “penis” reference.
Please substitute for Mindy’s “69″ reference.
Decency Police and their “We’ll trade you one penis for two vaginas” memos are always good for a laugh on a slow day, which may explain why today The Reporters Who Cover Television glommed on to showrunner Matt Warburton‘s tweet of several days ago (you know how it is: TV critic re-tweets it, Defamer posts it, more media pick it up). In the Twitter post, he took a photo of the memo and added, “The Mindy Project is a classy show for grown ups”, like he meant it to sting. And yet, ask someone attached to the show’s production or broadcast why it’s still on the air with the numbers it’s getting these days and you probably ARE going to get an earful of “Mindy is a very upscale show, with a 142 index in the demo in $100K+ homes, ranking No. 9 among major broadcast network shows in this category, and the highest indexing of any Fox entertainment series.”
Still, you can’t help but feel for Warburton. His series is getting clobbered by NBC’s The Voice in its time slot (last season NBC had little-watched comedies Go On and The New Normal in the second hour of primetime on the night). Read More »
In a move we’ve come to expect for freshman series — but for returning ones, not so much — Fox will preview the season debut of The Mindy Project on VOD and digital platforms beginning today. That’s a full week in advance of its primetime debut on the broadcast network. In the debut episode, Schulman & Associates welcomes its new resident OB/GYN, Dr. Paul Leotard, played by guest star James Franco — a charming, former model who also happens to be a sex therapist and offers sex therapy advice to Danny (Chris Messina) and Christina (guest star Chloe Sevigny). So if the Comedy Central roast/love letter of/to Franco didn’t give you your Franco-fill, you can now catch the season premiere episode on Fox.com, Fox Now, HULU, Fox on Demand, Xbox 360, Samsung, Windows 8 and Roku, and online distributors including iTunes, Amazon, Microsoft, Samsung, Vudu and YouTube.
Diane Haithman contributes to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
During an on-set visit to Fox‘s The Mindy Project as part of the TCA Summer Press Tour, the cast and producers revealed that Season 2 of the series will feature the returns of first-season guests Bill Hader, Anders Holm, Chloe Sevigny and James Franco. In addition, panelists confirmed that that the planned trip to Haiti introduced last season will indeed be part of the comedy’s storyline when it returns to the schedule September 17. “We thought it would be sort of lame if we didn’t go to Haiti, so we do,” said executive producer Matt Warburton today on Stage 34 of the Universal Studios lot. Star Mindy Kaling said the show has broken “7 or 8” episodes to date. Read More »