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Robert B. Parker’s ‘Spenser’ To Continue Solving Mysteries

By | Wednesday April 27, 2011 @ 7:53am PDT
Mike Fleming

Late author Robert B. Parker’s estate has announced that his signature Spenser and Jesse Stone mystery novel series will continue. Parker died at his home in Cambridge, Mass., on Jan. 18, 2010 at age 77. Michael Brandman, who has co-written and produced the CBS TV movies that feature Tom Selleck as the tortured alcoholic detective Stone, will write the first Stone novel. Titled  Robert B. Parker’s Killing the Blues, it will be published Sept. 13, 2011.

Brandman goes way back with Parker, and aside from the Stone telepics, he also produced three Spenser novel adaptations for A&E. Parker’s earlier Spenser novels  formed the basis for the Spenser For Hire series that starred Robert Urich, and his Western series was turned into the Ed Harris-Viggo Mortensen pic Appaloosa. The new Spenser novels will be written by Ace Atkins, who has written such novels as White Shadow, Infamous and Wicked City. His first Spenser novel will be releases spring of 2012. Parker’s 39th and final Spenser novel, Sixkill, will be released by GP Putnam in May. It looks like Parker’s lone female detective series based on Sunny Randall might be done. Parker created that series with the intention of it being turned into a feature film series at Sony Pictures, with Helen Hunt right after that actress won the Oscar in 1997 for As Good As It Gets. The film series never got … Read More »

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MORE TURMOIL: ‘Blue Bloods’ Creators Exit

By | Friday April 22, 2011 @ 5:30pm PDT

EXCLUSIVE: This is why so many Hollywood creatives don’t understand the decisions of the networks and the Big Media corporations who run them. Because here’s a show that’s doing well in its primetime slot. And just a few days ago, freshman drama Blue Bloods was praised by Armando Nunez, president of CBS Studios International. “It’s perhaps not as sexy to talk about, but it has proven a success both on the network and in terms of global distribution,” he said. It tops the charts of how this season’s freshman shows have performed, with Blue Bloods sold around the world not just to tiny channels but to big ones like Sky Atlantic in the UK, Australia’s Network Ten, and Discovery Latin America. So what do CBS and CBS Studios and its executive producer Leonard Goldberg, who also happens to be a CBS Corporation board member, do? They exit the show’s creators Mitchell Burgess and Robin Green (formerly of The Sopranos). Because I’m told Goldberg and the network think the show needs be “more procedural.” As if CBS doesn’t already have procedural shows coming out of its wazoo. And this latest firing comes nine months ago after then-showrunner Ken Sanzel exited the CBS series because of creative tensions with Tom Selleck over scripts that the actor felt were too procedural.

Of course, it’s a ridiculous conflict of interest for Goldberg to both be on the CBS Corp board and to be running one of its shows. … Read More »

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PILOT SEASON: The End Of Ageism?

Nellie Andreeva

Part of a series that takes an analytical look at the current broadcast pilot season and some of its trends and heroes.

Maybe it’s the Tom Selleck/Kathy Bates effect, but the broadcast networks seem more open than ever to shows fronted by older leads this pilot season. Until recently, actors in their 60s and late 50s were relegated to supporting parts as parents or grandparents of TV shows’ main characters. Now they’re the main attraction. Michael Patrick King’s NBC drama pilot A Mann’s World stars 62-year-old Don Johnson. CBS’ pilot The Doctor is toplined by 61-year-old Christine Lahti. ABC has an untitled comedy pilot written for and starring 57-year-old Tim Allen. And ABC’s drama pilot Grace is headlined by 55-year-old Eric Roberts.

The trend started last year with several pilots going older with their leads than the characters had been originally written. Blue Bloods (then Reagan’s Law) whose lead was supposed to be 50-59 year-old, cast 66-year-old Tom Selleck. David E. Kelley’s Harry’s Law (then Kindreds) was written for a male lead aged 53-57. It ended up casting 62-year-old Oscar winner Kathy Bates and tweaking the character. The most dramatic  “aging up” in the casting process  happened on the ABC procedural Body of Proof (then Body of Evidence) whose lead Megan was conceived as 35-40 years-old. The producers met several actresses in that age range before they thought of Dana Delany (55) who was eventually cast in the role. Additionally, CBS last summer … Read More »

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CBS Gives ‘Blue Bloods’ Wednesday 10 PM Trial Run, Shifts ‘The Defenders’ to Fridays

EXCLUSIVE: CBS is about to find out how big a hit it has on its hands with Blue Bloods. I’m hearing the freshman Tom Selleck drama — which has been averaging a healthy 12.3 million viewers on Fridays at 10 PM — will get a four-week trial run on Wednesdays at 10 PM beginning Jan. 19. Fellow freshman series The Defenders, which is currently occupying the Wednesday 10 PM slot, will shift to a new regular time slot, Fridays at 8 PM, starting Feb. 4. There, the legal dramedy will succeed departing paranormal crime drama Medium. Beginning Feb. 16, spinoff Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior takes over on Wednesdays at 10 PM where it will follow Criminal Minds. This is the same strategy CBS successfully used for the launch of spinoff NCIS: LA, which also followed  the mothership NCIS series on Tuesdays. Blue Bloods, meanwhile, reclaims its Friday 10 PM post on Feb. 11. CBS, which declined to comment for this story, is expected to announce its midseason plans later today.

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RATINGS RAT RACE: Tom Selleck’s ‘Blue Bloods’ Wins Slow Friday

Nellie Andreeva

The Week 2 declines continued on Friday, with every show sliding from its Premiere Week numbers. Tom Selleck’s new series Blue Bloods at 10 PM (2.0/7, 11.2 million) was once again the top program of the night by a mile in 18-49 and total viewers, down modest 9% from last week.

Also posting a respectable 9% decline was the other freshman series in the 10 PM slot, NBC’s Outlaw (1.0/4, 4.7 million). Unfortunately, the legal drama starring Jimmy Smits started off very low last week and still drew only half of the demo rating and less than half of the audience of Blue Blood last night. Outlaw finished tied for second place in the 10 PM hour with ABC’s 20/20 (1.0/4, 4.5 million, down 23% from last week) CBS’ other two Friday dramas, Medium (1.1/4, 5.6 million) and CSI:NY (1.7/6, 9.7 million) were down 14% and 15%, respectively. They still won their time slots in both measures, another sign how low the high water mark on Friday has fallen. Naturally, CBS won the night in both total viewers (8.9 million) and adults 18-49 (1.6/6).

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ANALYSIS: Lessons Of Premiere Week

Nellie Andreeva

Broadcast networks’ premiere week wrapped last night. It was the most competitive start of the season in recent memory, with the vast majority of new and returning series – some 60 shows – launching over the past seven days. After the initial shock waves from the disastrous premiere ratings for Fox’s new drama Lone Star on Monday, there were no huge surprises – the shows stayed mostly on target, and no network tanked completely, with each having at least one bright spot to brag about. Of course, some did better than others (See the network-by-network analysis below.) But first, some overall thoughts on premiere week.

  • The changing of the guard on broadcast television seems completed, with last season’s hot rookies Glee and Modern Family becoming the new top dogs. The second-season premieres of Glee (5.6/16 in 18-49) and Modern Family (5.1/14) were the No.1 and No.3 scripted series last week, beating the season openers of such established veterans as House and Desperate Housewives. They were also both up significantly from their series debuts last year, a rare feat during a premiere week in which returning series were mostly down or flat with the exception of CBS’ Two and a Half Men and NBC’s The Office, which might have benefitted from the publicity surrounding star Steve Carell’s final season on the show. Still, most returning shows did return at their levels from the end of last season, and their numbers are expected to

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Fall Season Launch: The Big Four’s Standings Going Into Premiere Week

Nellie Andreeva

Overnights aren’t supposed to matter, as any broadcast executive will tell you these days because a larger and larger chunk of the TV audience time-shift their primetime viewing. And yet, we know that every morning next week the TV brass will be poring over the early numbers, knots in their stomach, as the broadcast networks unleash 16 new series from Monday to Friday (5 on Monday alone) during the nerve-wracking annual mad dash known as Premiere Week.

A few thoughts before I run down expectations network-by-network:

  • While everyone is focusing on series, it probably will be sports, not scripted fare, that will determine the ratings winner for Premiere Week and possibly the entire fourth quarter. “No one will break out,” a network insider tells me, projecting that the 4 networks will finish Premiere Week in a tight race, with .4 rating point in 18-49 separating No.1 from No. 4. With the race so close, one hour of football overrun on CBS, which has a doubleheader on Sunday, may be the deciding factor that would push the network to the top.
  • I found it refreshing that three new series starring mature actors — Dana Delany (54) in ABC’s Body of Proof, Jimmy Smits (55) in NBC’s Outlaw, and Tom Selleck (65) in CBS’ Blue Bloods – made the cut in May. But I also find it a bit cynical that all 3 were put on the lower-rated and

Read More »

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CBS Drama ‘Blue Bloods’ Adds Producers

By | Thursday September 2, 2010 @ 5:01pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

New CBS drama series Blue Bloods has completed assembling its team following the recent departure of executive producer & showrnner Ken Sanzel. Two new producers have joined the show: helmer Fred Keller (Boomtown, 24, House) as producer & director and writer Linda Gase (Standoff, The District) as consulting producer. Keller’s deal came after he directed episode 3 of the cop/family drama starring Tom Selleck. His work on the episode, which coincided with Sanzel’s departure, got solid marks from the show’s executive producers: creators Mitchell Burgess and Robin Green and Leonard Goldberg. As for the show, “it is running really smoothly and is coming in even better,” an insider said. Keller is with Kaplan Stahler and Fineman Entertainment.

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Showrunner Ken Sanzel Exits ‘Blue Bloods’ After Creative Tension With Tom Selleck

EXCLUSIVE: I learned this morning that Tom Selleck hasn’t been accepting the scripts which CBS’ Blue Bloods executive producer Ken Sanzel has been giving him. So a standoff developed over character vs procedural visions for the series, summarized to me as “creative tension”. By midday, Sanzel was still staying with the show. No more. Insiders just emailed me that the former New York cop told the staff late today that he is leaving. There’s no exit date yet. “He’s a stand-up guy; he won’t leave the network or studio hanging,” a network source explains. “Simply creative differences. It happens. He was brought in after the pilot as a showrunner to set the show up. We often do this for pilots picked up to series that have great writers but who haven’t run shows before.” Now, to replace Sanzel, Selleck wants to find ”his guy” who must also meet with studio/network approval. Unfortunately this turmoil is especially embarrassing because it’s executive produced by Leonard Goldberg, a CBS Corporation board member.

Sanzel, a longtime Numb3rs showrunner, was handpicked by CBS and CBS Studios to executive produce with creators Mitchell Burgess and Robin Green, who continue with the show. ”Ken is a real take-charge tough guy and everyone knows it. They begged  him to take the show. He was reluctant to do it. And Selleck was not crazy to have Ken imposed on hm. But Ken was doing the network bidding thanklessly,” an insider tells me. Sanzel’s vision was for a compelling crime procedural, whereas Selleck wanted softer character exploration. Sanzel knew the network was behind him. But Selleck wanted to be in charge of the show.  “Too many cooks,” one of my insiders explains. “They love him at CBS. But Selleck realized it’s not the show he thought he was in. Ken calls Nina Tassler and says, ‘What do you want to do?’ And she says, ‘Let me talk to Tom.’” Today, it became clear to me it was just a matter of hours before Sanzel left the show. ”Not bail on them in one day. Just saunter off peacefully,” a source tells me. “If we were to count up every single show where there’s creative friction between actors and producers, we’d have a number like the census bureau.” Read More »

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TCA: ‘Sopranos’ Alums Burgess and Green On Switching To A Show About Heroes

Nellie Andreeva

At the panel for CBS’ new cop/family drama Blue Bloods, the show’s writers-executive producers Robin Green and Mitchell Burgess were asked about departing the anti-hero drama genre they mastered on HBO’s The Sopranos to take on  the CBS series starring Tom Selleck.

“We did the anti-hero for all  those years, it was wonderful, it’s an old tradition…but every great character you see on TV right now is dark, they have a problem,  we were very interested, as a curative after the Sopranos, to find out what a hero is,“ said Green. Added Burgess: “We were very conscious that we wanted to rediscover the hero, and write that, we did the other thing and now we want to do this. “

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