A male-skewing superhero show is probably not big help as a lead-in to female-skewing comedies, though female-oriented comedy competition sure is. That’s the logical explanation behind the double-digit declines for ABC’s newly picked up for a full season The Goldbergs and Trophy Wife despite their lead-in, Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., airing an original this week (2.5) vs. a repeat (1.2) last Tuesday. The difference? Fox’s comedy block was back last night after getting pre-empted for The X Factor last week. Last week, The Goldbergs and Trophy Wife sealed their Back 9 pickups by holding steady (The Goldbergs) and growing 17% (Trophy Wife) despite a diminished lead-in. But last night, The Goldbergs (1.5) was down 12% to a new low, while Trophy Wife (1.2) was down 14%. S.H.I.E.L.D. was down a tenth to a new low coming back from hiatus, mirroring the impact a break had on another hot freshman drama, Fox’s Sleepy Hollow. Fox’s comedies proved more resilient to pre-emptions, returning from one on par or up. Dads (1.4) and Brooklyn Nine-Nine (1.6) were even with their last originals, while New Girl (2.0) was up 11% and The Mindy Project (1.5) up 15%.
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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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.