Love You, Mean It With Whitney Cummings has made a quiet exit on E!. A rep for the network confirmed that production on the weekly talk show has wrapped and last week’s episode was its last. Love You, Mean It With Whitney Cummings, produced by Chelsea Handler’s Borderline Amazing Prods, launched in November with a six-episode order. The network picked up six more episodes in January but has now opted not to order more. At the time of the renewal, E! brass touted Cummings’ ability to not only attract E!’s core female audience with her show but also develop a strong male following. The weekly series featured Cummings and sidekick Julian McCullough. Its guests included Mindy Kaling, Will Ferrell, Lizzy Caplan and Ginnifer Goodwin. Cummings still has her NBC sitcom and is consulting on CBS hit 2 Broke Girls, which she co-created.
E! Picks Up Nigel Lythgoe & Kevin Jonas Reality Series, Whitney Cummings Talk Show, Unveils New Logo, Tagline & Branding
UPDATED: E!, which is holding its upfront presentation today, has picked up Opening Act, a new talent competition headlined by American Idol executive producer Nigel Lythgoe, R&B singer Mary J. Blige and producer Antonina Armato from Rock Mafia. Additionally, the cable network has greenlighted a reality series starring Kevin Jonas for summer and has given the long-gestating Whitney Cummings talk show a pickup as a weekly half-hour series titled Love You, Mean It With Whitney Cummings. E! also is unveiling a new look, logo and tagline (Pop Of Culture). The new branding campaign, part of the transformation of the channel under the leadership of NBC Uni cable maven Bonnie Hammer, will kick off on July 9 with the premiere of Opening Act.
In Opening Act, Lythgoe, Blige and Armato will comb the Internet to find talented amateurs and give them a chance to open for an A-list music star. Music acts on board to take in aspiring musicians to open for one show on their current tours are Nicki Minaj, Rod Stewart, LMFAO, Brad Paisley, Jason Aldean, Jason Mraz and Gym Class Heroes. The unsuspecting band or solo acts will get the news of their big break in person by TV personality Olivia Lee (The Tonight Show With …
EXCLUSIVE: Former Malcolm In the Middle star Jane Kaczmarek has joined the cast of NBC’s upcoming comedy series Whitney as a recurring. Created by Whitney Cummings, the multicamera comedy revolves around Whitney (Cummings) and Alex (Chris D’Elia), a happily unmarried couple. Kaczmarek will play Whitney’s outspoken mom who has been married several times. Beverly D’Angelo played the role in the pilot, and those scenes will now be reshot. Whitney premieres Sept. 22 in the plum post-Office Thursday slot. Kaczmarek, repped by ICM and Greenlight Management, earned seven consecutive lead comedy actress Emmy nominations for her role on Malcolm. After a drama stint on TNT’s Raising the Bar, she recently returned to comedy with a guest spot on last week’s episode of FX’s new irreverent comedy Wilfred.
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.
Kat Dennings has signed on as one of the two leads in CBS’ multicamera comedy pilot Two Broke Girls, co-written and executive produced by former Sex and the City showrunner Michael Patrick King and comedian Whitney Cummings. Dennings is the first actor cast in the project, which centers on two girls from very different backgrounds – Max (Dennings), poor from birth, and Caroline, born wealthy but down on her luck – who wind up as waitresses in the same Brooklyn diner, and strike up an unlikely friendship that could lead to a successful business venture… if they can come up with $250,000 in start-up expenses. After starting off in TV with a breakout lead role opposite Bob Saget on the WB sitcom Raising Dad and an arc on NBC’s ER, Dennings, repped by CAA and Management 360, segued into features, including The House Bunny and Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. She will next be seen in Thor.
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 producing. Before TBS’ My Boys, Thomas created the CW sitcom Run of the House.
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.
EXCLUSIVE: In what may be the last bidding war this development season, I hear CBS has landed Two Broke Girls, a multi-camera comedy co-written by former Sex and the City showrunner Michael Patrick King and comedian Whitney Cummings. The project, which the two wrote on spec at Warner Bros. TV where King is under a rich overall deal, was taken out this week and, after heated bidding, landed at CBS with a pilot production commitment. Like Sex and the City, Two Broke Girls is set in New York and features female protagonists. But the similarities end there. As the title suggests, the CBS/Warner Bros. TV project centers on two 22-year-old girls who tackle life in New York: two broke girls, one expensive city. (It is safe to assume that the two won’t be wearing Manolo Blahniks.) King is executive producing the pilot, while Cummings is co-executive producing. This is the second spec sale for King, who is returning to TV this development season after taking a break to write and direct the two Sex and the City movies. A drama he wrote about a 50-something Beverly Hills hairdresser landed at NBC with a pilot commitment last month. 28-year-old Cummings also has a second project set up at NBC. She is writing and is attached to star in a comedy about a woman who’s afraid of marriage. Cummings, a …