“Is this a therapy session?,” ABC president Paul Lee asked jokingly after another long-winded question about the network’s new series. That about sums up an uneventful executive session, which also could double as a drinking game over the great number of times the words “diversity” and “specificity” were repeated. There was no mention of ABC’s ratings woes but the diversity of the network’s new slate — which includes comedies about a black family (Black-ish), Asian family (Fresh Off The Boat) and Latino family (Cristela), as well as dramas American Crime, created by John Ridley, and How To Get Away with Murder, exec produced by Shonda Rhimes and starring Viola Davis — was front and center. Asked what the tipping point was, Lee was quick to point out, “we’re not there yet,” in terms of level of diversity. “To be able to pull this off, you need not just stars on air… you need the storytellers and you need the executives to truly reflect America as it is,” he added, giving a shout-out to the network and sister studio’s diverse group of creative executives.
Lee indirectly referenced 21st Century Fox’s move to put both Fox and 20th Century Fox TV under the same leadership, Dana Walden and Gary Newman, as part of a growing trend. ABC and ABC Studios have operated that way for years, and Lee, who oversees both, praised the model. “We’ve used that combination of network and studio to develop a lot of great shows,” he said.
Asked about the perception that cable dramas are cooler than their broadcast counterparts in light of another Emmy shutout of broadcast dramas from the top category, Lee spoke in support of broadcast shows. “I’ll put American Crime or Scandal against any cable drama series,” he said. “Sometime limitations can provide you with better storytelling, and Shonda Rhimes is a beacon of that.” Read More »
It has been a three-way race for renewal among three bubble ABC comedies: sophomore The Neighbors and freshmen Trophy Wife and Mixology, There seems to be some movement within the pack, with the youngest, midseason entry Mixology, gaining momentum. I hear the network and the studio already have put in place a leadership plan for next season, with creators Jon Lucas and Scott Moore set to take over the reins as showrunners from Ira Ungerleider, who will be leaving after running the series for its original 13-episode order. What’s more, in a sign of confidence to Lucas & Moore and their show, I hear ABC Studios is in negotiations with the duo for an overall deal. At the same time last year, ABC Studios inked an overall deal with Dan Fogelman, with his freshman comedy The Neighbors going on to clinch the only comedy renewal for ABC Studios a few weeks later. Mixology – set in a bar over the course of one night — quickly built a core fan base and has supporters at ABC, including network topper Paul Lee. Its ratings have been lackluster at best, but so have been the numbers for Trophy Wife and The Neighbors. Relaunching a heavily serialized comedy in the fall four months after a brief midseason run would be a challenge, though I hear the story might be reset for Season 2.
Related: Bubble Watch 2014: Where Endangered Broadcast Series Stand
Read More »
ABC this afternoon has made its comedy pickup calls, giving Back 9, full-season orders to The Goldbergs and Trophy Wife and a Back 4 order (four additional episodes) to Super Fun Night. The network is not picking up more episodes of its fourth freshman comedy, Back In The Game, which won’t be pulled and will air the remainder of its original 13-episode order.
Related: ABC Orders 3 More Scripts Of ‘The Goldbergs’ & ‘Trophy Wife’
ABC put the biggest promotional muscle on the comedy side behind The Goldbergs, from Sony TV, which was a favorite of the network brass and considered most likely to continue. The pickup was sealed after the 1980s comedy became the only ABC freshman half-hour to build on its lead-in this Tuesday, going up 42% from a Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. repeat and holding its rating from the previous week despite its lead-in shrinking dramatically.
Related: ABC’s ‘Back In The Game’ & ‘Super Fun Night’ Get Script Orders
… Read More »
This is a morale boost that ABC‘s new Tuesday comedies The Goldbergs and Trophy Wife sure could use. The network has ordered three scripts each of the freshman shows. The largely symbolic gesture, as it doesn’t guarantee an episodic pickup, comes hours after The Goldbergs and Trophy Wife slid to new low marks last night, a 1.6 and 1.3 in adults 18-49, respectively. The comedies have very little compatibility with ABC’s 8 PM Tuesday anchor, superhero drama Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Trophy Wife launched with virtually no marketing. I hear ABC is encouraged by The Goldbergs‘ Live+3 bumps and its positive reviews and online buzz as well as Trophy Wife‘s creative direction. In the recently released Live+7 for premiere week, The Goldbergs debut went up 33% to a 4.1 18-49 rating, Trophy Wife was up 29% to a 2.9. (The networks currently get paid for C3 ratings that include only the first 3 days of DVR playback.) While three new comedies, The Goldbergs, Trophy Wife and Fox’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine, have received orders for additional scripts, no freshman comedy has been given an episodic order yet compared with three back-nine/second-season pickups for new … Read More »
Diane Haithman contributes to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
Two major cast members were missing from today’s TCA panel on the new ABC series Trophy Wife: Bradley Whitford is ill and Marcia Gay Harden is off making a movie with Woody Allen. But executive producers Lee Eisenberg, Emily Halpern and Sarah Haskins were here (along with cast members Malin Ackerman and Michaela Watkins). And they spent most of their time reassuring the crowd that the title Trophy Wife is all about irony. “We always meant it to be about irony,” said Eisenberg. He added that ABC promos should make clear that it’s a show about family dynamics, not about catfights, stereotypes and evil ex-wives. “There is no villain,” said Haskins.
TV critics in the audience pointed out that America’s TV viewers are not the quickest to pick up on “irony”. But Eisenberg insisted that Akerman’s character (the young third wife to Whitford’s character) is the opposite of the stereotypical ditzy arm-candy trophy wife and is someone struggling to become a step-parent and part of a family. The most fun for us is to make her fall on her face and at all times be not like that,” Eisenberg said. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Bailee Madison has landed a regular role on ABC‘s single-camera comedy Trophy Wife set to premiere this fall. The 13-year-old Once Upon A Time actress will play the role of Hillary, stepdaughter to Malin Akerman’s wild child character Kate. The series centers on Kate, a reformed party girl who finds herself with an insta-family when she falls in love with Brad (Bradley Whitford), a successful businessman 20 years her senior who has three manipulative kids and two judgmental ex-wives (Marcia Gay Harden, Michaela Watkins). Hillary, a type A personality dying to be popular, hopes that under Kate’s new regime she will finally be able to crack the cool crowd. Madison’s other TV credits include Law & Order: SVU and Wizards Of Waverly Place. On the film side, she starred alongside Billy Crystal and Bette Midler in Parental Guidance, and appeared in Guillermo Del Toro’s Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark and in Just Go With It, opposite Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston. Madison is repped by John Carrabino and Coast to Coast Talent Group.
ABC finally unveiled its pretty-straightforward premiere-date plans for the 2013-2014 season, launching a handful of programs — newsmag 20/20, three Friday series, and Monday’s Dancing With The Stars — in advance of the September 23 Premiere Week. Here’s the schedule, with new shows in bold: Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Writer-producers Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky have signed a new two-year overall deal with ABC Studios. The Office alums serve as executive producers/showrunners on two new comedy series sold under their previous deal with the studio, Trophy Wife at ABC and Hello Ladies at HBO. Additionally, Eisenberg and Stupnitsky, who wrote the 2011 feature Bad Teacher, executive produced Sony TV’s comedy pilot adaptation, which nears a midseason series order at CBS. “Lee and Gene are hugely prolific and quite possibly the hardest working comedy writers out there today,” said ABC Studios SVP Development Patrick Moran. “We are thrilled to have them attached to our new comedy Trophy Wife.”
Over the last two years, Eisenberg and Stupnitsky developed projects at ABC, FX, HBO and Comedy Central through their Quantity Entertainment. Emily Brecht, who has been with the company since 2011, is being promoted to Director of Development and will oversee day-to-day operations. She previously worked at the Department of Defense. “As a policy, we always look to hire employees who are smarter than us,” Eisenberg and Stupnitsky said. “That said, we look forward to Quantity’s next chapter as Emily becomes a principal partner and eventually ousts us.” Read More »
Mary Grill has landed the major new role on Fox’s freshman comedy series The Mindy Project. Grill, a Second City Chicago alum and founding member of the NY sketch group New Excitement, will play the recurring role of Maggie, a tomboyish college friend of Mindy’s (creator and star Mindy Kaling). The introduction of the character is part of a creative overhaul of the show midway through its freshman season, which includes the elimination of a character, played by regular Amanda Setton, and the downgrade of another one, played by Anna Camp, from regular to recurring. Additionally, Stephen Tobolowsky’s recurring character was written off. Grill, repped by Vincent Nastri of Bleecker Street Entertainment, recently appeared on Boardwalk Empire and has upcoming guest stints on Whitney and Don’t Trust the B—- In Apt.23. Read More »
Duane Martin (All Of Us) and Moesha alumna Sheryl Lee Ralph are set to co-star opposite Tia Mowry in the Nick at Nite family comedy pilot Instant Mom. Youngsters Sydney Park, Tylen Williams and Damarr Calhoun round out the cast of the project, from Aaron Kaplan’s Kapital Entertainment. Written by Warren Bell and Jessica Butler loosely based on their real life, Instant Mom centers on a 25-year-old party girl (Mowry) who trades in cosmos for carpools when she marries Charlie (Martin), an older man with kids, Gabrielle (Park), James (Williams) and Aaron (Damarr). Ralph plays Tia’s mother Maggie. Bell, Butler and Kaplan executive produce. Read More »
Bradley Whitford is set to co-star opposite Malin Ackerman in ABC‘s single-camera comedy pilot Trophy Wife. Marcia Gay Harden is in negotiations for the project, written by Emily Halpern and Sarah Haskins and directed by Jason Moore. Trophy Wife centers on reformed party girl Kate (Akerman), who finds herself with an insta-family when she falls in love with Brad (Whitford), a successful charmer with a quirky sense of humor who has three manipulative kids and two judgmental ex-wives. Harden is in negotiations to play Brad’s thoroughly intimidating first wife Diane, a former Olympic swimmer who is now an orthopedic surgeon and the mother of their 15-ear-old fraternal twins. ABC Studios is producing the pilot, executive produced by Halpern and Haskins, Lee Eisenberg & Gene Stupnitsky. Emmy winner Bradley Whitford, repped by WME and Greenlight Management, starred in the Fox drama pilot The Asset last season. Oscar winner Harden, repped by UTA and Framework, starred in NBC’s comedy pilot Isabel last spring.
EXCLUSIVE: Pierre Morel, the French director who helmed the 2008 sleeper hit Taken starring Liam Neeson that spawned an even more successful sequel, is set to direct NBC’s drama pilot After Hours, from writers/executive producers Gabe Sachs and Jeff Judah. The project, produced by Sony Pictures TV, is an ensemble medical show about a group of Army doctors who return to work the night shift together at a hospital in San Antonio. Last season Morel made his pilot directing debut with ABC’s thriller Zero Hour, which went to series. Read More »
Malin Akerman is now set to star in ABC‘s recently picked-up single-camera comedy pilot Trophy Wife, written and executive produced by Emily Halpern and Sarah Haskins and executive produced by Bad Teacher scribes Lee Eisenberg & Gene Stupnitsky. Akerman had been in negotiations for the lead in the project, which received a cast-contingent pilot order earlier this month. With her on board, the contingency is lifted, and the pilot will be heading to production. Trophy Wife was originally developed last season, and I hear ABC’s decision to give it a pilot order hinged on the producers being able to land Akerman. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: ABC is moving swiftly on casting its newly picked up single-camera comedy pilot Trophy Wife, written and executive produced by Emily Halpern and Sarah Haskins and executive produced by Bad Teacher scribes Lee Eisenberg & Gene Stupnitsky. Malin Akerman is in negotiations for the lead in the project, which received a cast-contingent pilot order on Friday. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: ABC has handed out a cast-contingent pilot order to Trophy Wife, a half-hour single-camera written and executive produced by Emily Halpern and Sarah Haskins and executive produced by Bad Teacher scribes Lee Eisenberg & Gene Stupnitsky (NBC’s The Office). The two writing teams have separate overall deals at ABC Studios, which is producing the project. Trophy Wife centers on reformed party girl Kate, who finds herself with an insta-family when she falls in love with a man with three manipulative kids and two judgmental ex-wives. The comedy was originally developed at ABC and ABC Studios last season. Read More »