The last piece has fallen into NBC‘s comedy puzzle, with the network canceling Ryan Murphy‘s freshman comedy The New Normal. To recap, of all current NBC comedy series, only two, Parks & Recreation and Community, made it to next season as the network is betting heavily on its half-hour pilots. The New Normal has garnered a lot of attention (and some controversy) with its subject of a gay couple having a baby. It recently won a GLAAD Award but largely failed to gain traction with viewers.
Diane Haithman contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
At tonight’s PaleyFest panel featuring cast and producers of NBC’s freshman comedy The New Normal, it came as no surprise when show co-creator Ryan Murphy confirmed that recurring guest star John Stamos, who hosted the panel, would continue to recur as Brice the realtor (Stamos jokingly demanded to know). More surprising was when Murphy announced that one of the final season episodes will feature an entire act with no dialogue, only music. And not just any music: John Lennon’s song “Beautiful Boy.” Murphy said the song is one of his and show co-creator Ali Adler’s favorites so they asked for permission to use it. “We reached out to Yoko Ono, and she said yes,” Murphy said. “So we are thankful to Yoko Ono. I just wanted to do something different.”
Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
John Stamos dropped by a TCA panel discussion today for NBC‘s The New Normal held on the set at Paramount featuring the cast and executive producer Ali Adler (co-creator with Ryan Murphy). Stamos is guesting in an episode in which he plays a character of ambiguous sexual orientation (to explore the fallacy of “gay-dar”). Stamos was asked to compare today’s TV sitcom world — which can accommodate the “new normal” of a gay couple who are expectant parents via a surrogate — to his days on Full House. “It was three men living together in San Francisco raising a couple of kids. It’s the same thing,” Stamos quipped.
Ellen Barkin, who portrays the bigoted mother of the pregnant surrogate (Georgia King), said she was not surprised by the controversy surrounding the show (a Utah TV station has refused to air it). “It’s part of the reason why many of us got involved in the show, it was saying something that is not always said in a sitcom,” she said. Barkin last summer told Deadline she believes an affiliate has the right to ban something, but considers it censorship.
FX’s American Horror Story: Asylum and NBC’s The New Normal were announced today as additions to the 30th edition of The Paley Center For Media’s TV festival’s slate. The Ryan Murphy-co-created series joins previously announced honorees HBO’s The Newsroom, NBC’s Revolution and ABC’s Once Upon A Time, as part of the PaleyFest slate. Murphy was also announced Monday as the recipient of the Festival’s inaugural PaleyFest Icon Award. The full festival lineup as well as participants will be revealed on January 9, 2013. The Paleyfest runs from March 1-15, 2013 at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills. Hulu plans to stream a selection of panel content and shortform clips exclusively on Hulu.com, and Hulu Plus.
Ryan Murphy really likes Matt Bomer. After casting the White Collar star in a high-profile guest stint on Fox’s Glee last season, playing Darren Criss’ brother, Murphy has now recruited Bomer for a guest starring turn on his new NBC comedy The New Normal. According to Murphy, Bomer will play the “sexy ex-boyfriend” of Bryan (Andrew Rannell), the gay co-lead character, which is based on Murphy. The New Normal, which Murphy co-created by Ali Adler, has received a full-season order.
NBC has made the first back orders this fall, giving full-season orders to drama Revolution and comedies Go On and The New Normal. “We’re impressed with the imagination and creative direction of the entire team on Revolution, not to mention the immediately strong response we got from the audience,” said NBC entertainment president Jennifer Salke. “We’re also very proud of our new comedy block of Go On and The New Normal.”
The news comes on the heels of NBC logging its first outright premiere-week win among adults 18-49 in nine years, fueled by the early success of Revolution as well as The Voice‘s expansion to fall and the ongoing strength of Sunday Night Football. “We’re very pleased with early results of the last three weeks of our fall season roll-out,” said NBC chairman Robert Greenblatt. “The strategy for this season was to draft off the promotional platform of the Olympics and then begin our season early and strong. I think we’ve accomplished both of those goals, yet we know it’s a long season and there’s much work ahead of us.”
The pickups of Revolution, Go On and The New Normal had been considered no-brainers as the three have been NBC’s strongest new series so far this season. The forecast is cloudier for underperforming new comedies Animal Practice and Guys With Kids.
“Be fair.” That’s what The New Normal creator Ryan Murphy said 20th Century Fox TV and NBC execs told him about doing an episode of the NBC sitcom from a Republican perspective. The episode, “Obama’s Mama”, airs tonight. “You have two gay clearly liberal guys at the heart of the show. We all collectively thought it would be great to do an episode where you presented Ellen’s point of view, the conservative point of view, the Republican point of view that hopefully was eloquent and was given equal time,” Murphy said today during a conference call about the show, about a gay couple having a baby through a surrogate. Ellen Barkin plays June, the conservative 58-year-old grandmother of the surrogate (played by Georgia King).
And we’re off. In the first major premiere of the season, NBC’s The Voice last night opened its third season with a 4.1 rating/11 share in adults 18-49. In today’s broadcast universe that is a respectable number; for ratings-challenged NBC, it could be a cause for celebration. But by major talent competition standards, especially for a young series like The Voice, it is just OK. Of course that was way down from last season’s Super Bowl-inflated Voice opener. But it was also down from the series’ series debut in April 2011 (5.1/13). Additionally, The Voice was down 7% from last season’s finale. (And keep in mind, the show is usually front-loaded, with its blind auditions garnering the highest ratings.) Facing Monday Night Football for the first time in its run, it was a tenth behind the series debut of Fox’s The X Factor (4.2/12) last fall. The two music competition shows are set to clash head-to-head on Wednesday.
NBC today kicked off its pre-premiere digital sampling of new pilots with The New Normal. While NBC’s move to put The New Normal pilot online amidst controversy sparked by the decision of the Utah NBC affiliate not to air the show led to speculation about the timing, it actually follows the schedule announced by NBC last month. With the exception of new comedies Go On and Animal Practice, whose pilots became available online the day after they screened during NBC’s Olympics coverage, all other new series will get a two-week sampling window. The New Normal premieres Sept.11, so it was released today. Next off is action drama Revolution, whose pilot will be released on Sept. 4 ahead of its Sept. 17 debut. Here is the pilot for The New Normal, which is available on nbc.com, Hulu, iTunes, Amazon and Xbox as well as on demand:
Ellen Barkin came out swinging again against the NBC Utah affiliate that decided not to show The New Normal. “Yes, it’s an affiliate’s right to ban something but I think it is censorship,” the actress told Deadline today of the KSL-TV decision. “For our brand, this program simply feels inappropriate on several dimensions, especially during family viewing time,” announced Jeff Simpson, CEO of the station’s parent company, Bonneville International last week. Soon afterwards Barkin took to her Twitter account, calling the affiliate’s decision “blatantly homophic.” On a conference call today, Barkin, after some initial hesitation, reiterated her position and asked why KSL-TV would air a violent show like Law & Order: SVU but not a show about “a same sex couple that want to have a child.” Created by Glee boss Ryan Murphy and Ali Adler, The New Normal is about a gay couple that is having a baby through a surrogate. Andrew Rannells and Justin Bartha play the couple, Barkin plays June the bigoted 58-year old grandmother of their surrogate Goldie, played by Georgia King. Calling the series “a show full of love, sensitivity and more fun than a barrel of monkeys,” Barkin said that she thought it dealt with a “very important issue” of “what makes a family” in “a very divisive county.” The actress, who called herself “overly opinionated,” added, “controversy is a good thing.” The action last week by the Mormon Church owned station, which also …
UPDATE: GLAAD released a statement today about the Salt Lake City affiliate KSL-TV’s decision not to air The New Normal, and GLAAD president Herndon Graddick invited KSL CEO Jeff Simpson to meet with the group. In addition, the show’s star, Ellen Barkin, expressed her concern via Twitter, saying, “Shame on you @kslcom.” Here is GLAAD’s statement:
“Same-sex families are a beloved part of American television thanks to shows like Modern Family, Glee and Grey’s Anatomy,” said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick. “While audiences, critics and advertisers have all supported LGBT stories, KSL is demonstrating how deeply out of touch it is with the rest of the country.”
“We invite Jeff Simpson to sit down with GLAAD and local LGBT families. We know that if he would, he would see that not only are our families normal, but by citing ‘crude and rude’ content and refusing to affirm LGBT families, KSL and Mr. Simpson are sending a dangerous message to Utah. They should make that right.”
NBC’s Utah affiliate KSL-TV strikes again. The station, which is owned by the Mormon church, announced today that it won’t air the network’s new comedy series New Normal. Co-created by Ryan Murphy and Ali Adler, The New Normal stars Andrew Rannells and Justin Bartha as gay partners who are having a baby through a surrogate. “For our brand, this program simply feels inappropriate on several dimensions, especially during family viewing time,” Jeff Simpson, CEO of KSL’s parent company, …
EXCLUSIVE: Jayson Blair, who starred on MTV’s The Hard Times Of RJ Berger, has been added to the cast of Ryan Murphy and Ali Adler’s upcoming NBC comedy The New Normal as a series regular after guest starring in the pilot. Blair, repped by Justice & Ponder and Ginsburg Daniels, plays the entitled Clay. Murphy teased Blair’s involvement with The New Normal beyond the pilot by tweeting a picture of the actor wearing nothing by briefs and boots 10 days ago with the caption: “Just another hot summer day on the set of THE NEW NORMAL.”
Diane Haithman contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
At today’s TCA panel on NBC’s new comedy The New Normal, executive producer Ryan Murphy was asked to address the fact that the series is already being boycotted by anti-gay activist group One Million Moms even though the show has not aired. The series revolves around a gay couple (portrayed by Broadway’s Book Of Mormon star Andrew Rannells and Justin Bartha) who seek to conceive a child with a surrogate mother (Georgia King). Murphy is openly gay as is co-executive producer Allison “Ali” Adler, a Glee colleague (Murphy said Rannells’ character is loosely based on himself and that he has dreams of becoming a parent with his partner). “I have obviously been through this before, I wasn’t surprised when I read (about the boycott)”, said Murphy, who also has come under fire from conservative groups over gay characters in Glee. “I think every person and group has a right to protest something, (but) I always find it interesting for someone to take that option before they’ve seen it,” he said of the group, which also has attacked JC Penney for hiring Ellen DeGeneres as a spokesperson.
Murphy added that there is a character in New Normal that often voices the opinions of the Million Moms group: the conservative grandmother portrayed by Ellen Barkin. “Their points of view are delivered with sensitivity and a certain amount of veracity by Ms. Barkin,” Murphy said. “If they actually watched it, I think they would like it.” Murphy called the character “loveable; everybody has people like her in their family. In all of these characters, the most controversial will be Ellen — I remember Thanksgivings growing up when my grandmother would say these jaw-dropping things.”
EXCLUSIVE: Justin Bartha has joined the cast of CBGB. The Hangover star will play Stiv Bators, lead singer of the Dead Boys. CBGB was the club in New York’s Bowery district that saw the birth of punk with bands like the Dead Boys, the Ramones, Blondie, and Television. Bators died in 1990. Randall Miller is directing and writing the indie punk film, which is starting to crank some cast volume. Malin Akerman, who rocks out with Tom Cruise in the upcoming Rock Of Ages, will play Blondie’s Debbie Harry. Alan Rickman will play the East Side bar’s proprietor Hily Kristal. Twilight Saga’s Ashley Greene will play Kristal’s daughter. The Big Bang Theory’s Johnny Galecki is playing band manager Terry Ork. Foo Fighters’ drummer Taylor Hawkins will play the original punk rocker Iggy Pop. And Harry Potter’s Rupert Grint will play Dead Boys guitarist Cheetah Chrome. The film begins shooting next month in Savannah, Ga., before moving to NYC. Bartha, who is appearing in NBC’s upcoming The New Normal, is repped by CAA and Management 360.
EXCLUSIVE: The Simpsons veteran Mike Scully has signed a multi-year overall deal with 20th Century Fox TV. Under the seven-figure pact, he will join 20th TV’s upcoming Ryan Murphy-Ali Adler NBC comedy series The New Normal and will develop new live-action or animated projects for the studio. Additionally, Scully will continue his part-time gig working one day a week on The Simpsons where he has been for the past two decades. 20th TV chairman Dana Walden, who first joined the studio in 1992 said, “I can’t remember a time when Mike wasn’t part of one show or another at the studio.”
After a decade as a full-time writer-producer on The Simpsons, Scully segued to development for 20th TV with several projects, including comedy pilot The Pitts, which Walden said she loved. He went on to work on shows elsewhere, including CBS’ Everybody Loves Raymond and NBC’s Parks & Recreation, but never cut his ties with 20th TV through his gig on The Simpsons. Scully also recently worked on the studio’s Fox animated comedy series Napoleon Dynamite. “He is an incredibly funny and hugely talented guy who is great in the room and as part of a production,” Walden said. UTA-repped Scully has shared in six best series Emmy awards, five for The Simpsons and one for Raymond.
NEW COMEDIES & DRAMAS FOR 2012-13 NBC PRIMETIME SCHEDULE
Sitcoms expand to four nights this fall including Tuesday and Friday nights. New dramas from Dick Wolf and JJ Abrams. Here’s your first look:
NBC’s Save Me - Comedy
Produced by Sony Pictures Television and Original Film. Novelist John Scott Shepherd is executive producer/creator along with executive producer/director Scott Winant and executive producers Neal H. Moritz, Vivian Cannon, and Alexa Junge:
NBC’s 1600 Penn - Comedy
Produced by 20th Century Fox. From executive producer/director Jason Winer. The executive producers are Winer (who also directed the pilot), Gad and former White House speechwriter Jon Lovett: