Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
Michael Patrick King Not Doing ‘Sex And The City’ Prequel
At today’s TCA panel on 2 Broke Girls — a new comedy from Sex and the City veteran Michael Patrick King and Whitney Cummings, who is also starring in her own sitcom for NBC this season — the creative team shunned comparisons between the Sex and the City and the new CBS comedy just because they’re both about single women. “That show and this show (have) completely different DNA,” King said, protesting that “girl” shows are often spoken about as if they are “all the same show,” and all books about women summarily dismissed as “chick lit.” “(2 Broke Girls is) the evil twin of chick lit,” King said.
And unlike Sex, where no one really knew — or wanted to know — how the women paid for their picturesque Manhattan apartments and Jimmy Choo shoes, King said money would be a hard reality beyond just the title. “Carrie Bradshaw and her closet were a fantasy,” he said, likening Carrie’s wardrobe to the closet in The Chronicles of Narnia. “Those girls had relationship check lists. These girls barely have checks.” King added that the story line of one of the waitresses, portrayed by Beth Behrs, as a rich girl whose family has lost all their money was not directly inspired by Bernie Madoff but inspired by today’s economic reality. “We liked the scary idea of talking about money,” he said.
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of TCA.
Whitney Cummings, the actress-comedian who was introduced by NBC programming honcho Bob Greenblatt as the ‘It’ Girl circa 2011, met the press at TCA this afternoon, fresh from a wildly overachieving upfront season that’s poised to take her from relative obscurity to double-threat superstardom virtually overnight. Cummings was on hand to hype her new self-titled comedy Whitney that she created and executive produces as well as stars in. But another series she co-created with Sex and the City guru Michael Patrick King, CBS’ 2 Broke Girls, also got picked up after having been the network’s best-testing pilot ever. Oh, and her new four-camera sitcom also has the prime placement on NBC Thursday nights at 9:30 coming out of The Office. All in all, not too shabby for a standup comedian and actress whose biggest previous credits were on MTV’s Punk’d and hanging out late nights with Chelsea Handler on E!
Here is the second-annual honor roll of the best and brightest at the broadcast upfront. First off, to all who got their pilots picked up to series — congratulations. You’re already winners. This is a list of those who took their upfront success to an extra level:
Whitney Cummings: The undisputed queen of Upfront 2011. She is behind two new comedy series that are among the highest-profile new half-hour entries next fall. She created, stars in and executive produces her eponymous comedy for NBC, which was assigned the network’s best comedy slot, following The Office. She also co-wrote on spec with Michael Patrick King the CBS comedy 2 Broke Girls, which broke records as CBS’ best-testing pilot (comedy or drama) ever. Both were the first comedy pilots to get a series order at their networks. Cummings, who also has a talk show in contention at E!, will serve as an executive producer on 2 Broke Girls but will be full-time on Whitney, which was in first position. I hope that doesn’t impact 2 Broke Girls, which King is expected to run/co-run, because the pilot indeed looks great. Honorable mention in the category of creators with multiple projects for Andrew Reich and Ted Cohen. One of their two ABC pilots, Work It, was picked up to series, while the other, Smothered, is very much in contention for midseason.
What a comeback for J.J. Abrams! After his high-profile NBC drama Undercovers went bust last fall, some questioned whether the networks will continue to bet on him. But bet they did this upfront, with both pilots he produced, CBS’ Person of Interest and Fox’s Alcatraz, going to series. Person of Interest instantly became one of the most anticipated new fall series when CBS made it its new Thursday 9 PM anchor. The network also said it was its best-testing drama pilot ever. And over at Fox, Alcatraz prevailed over several high-profile pilots to land one of only two drama series spots. Then, as icing on the cake, Abrams’ modestly rated but well-liked Fox sci-fi series Fringe got a renewal for next season, bringing the producer’s series for next season to three.
UPDATE 5:30 PM: And we’re done. Word is that NBC won’t be making more series pickups beyond the four shows from in-house studio UMS, thus prolonging the agony of producers awaiting word on the fate of their pilots until tomorrow. Also, I hear that the UMS-produced pilots that didn’t get a nod today are not necessarily dead, with dramas Grimm and Reconstruction said to be alive, and possibly comedies Bent, Parham/St. Clair and Dan Goor.
UPDATE 5:20 PM: The Emily Spivey comedy, starring Christina Applegate as a professional woman and new mom, is now officially a go as a series order with a new name, Up All Night.
PREVIOUS 4:55 PM: NBC opened its own pickup season today with a series order to the untitled Whitney Cummings comedy pilot, now titled Whitney, a romantic comedy created by and starring the racy comedienne; the Broadway-themed Smash, exec produced by Steven Spielberg and starring Debra Messing; and Prime Suspect, a Maria Bello-starring adaptation of the classic British series. A pickup of the untitled Emily Spivey comedy starring Christina Applegate is also said to be under way. It seems like NBC is starting off by ordering the projects from its own studios (all four pilots above are from UMS) before moving onto outside suppliers, such as 20th TV, which has hot dramas REM and The Playboy Club as well as Metro, which is also in contention, and Warner Bros, which has the Chelsea Handler comedy in contention, while its Wonder Woman appears doubtful and Mann’s World highly unlikely at the moment.
My Boys creator-executive producer Betsy Thomas has joined NBC’s untitled multicamera Whitney Cummings pilot as executive producer-showrunner. It stars Cummings as the half of a young couple who tackle the ups and downs of a committed relationship in today’s complicated world. Cummings wrote the script and is co-executive …
The pilot pickup season is just starting in earnest, but we already have an unusually large number of creators with multiple pilot orders. Peter Tolan, Whitney Cummings, Michael Patrick King and the duo of Andrew Reich and Ted Cohen have each received two pickups. Tolan wrote and is executive producing Fox’s comedy The Council of Dads and NBC’s Brave New World, Cummings wrote, executive produces and stars in an untitled comedy pilot for NBC about a young couple and co-wrote/executive produces the CBS comedy pilot Two Broke Girls with King. King also has NBC drama pilot A Mann’s World, on which he is the writer-executive producer. Reich and Cohen wrote and are executive producing two ABC comedy pilots, Work It and Smothered. Besides evoking an automatic reaction of “Come on, spread the wealth” from other writers who have projects in contention, the embarrassment of riches for the in-demand creators with multiple pilots comes with inevitable complications, putting pressure on the writer-producers in the pilot phase and facing them and the networks with some difficult choices come May.