Monday, May 13, 2013
The networks went back to New York last week to cobble together their schedules. As a prominent agent once said, “Everything turns to shit over Mississippi.”
It’s why you can’t get too excited when the network is thrilled that you had a good table reading, or you hear it’s some executive’s pet project. And even if your pilot turns out great and tests well, there’s still no guarantee it will get on the air. Or if it does, not be relocated to next April. If a network is enamored by a star they’ll often pick up a show even though they know it still isn’t perfect. That’s the case with SUPER FUN NIGHT. But ABC so wants to be in business with star Rebel Wilson that they’re willing to pick it up and retool. The odd man out might be you.
FOX gave a series commitment to DADS, a multi-camera Seth MacFarlane vehicle – a commitment – and that one still needs plenty of work.
Now this isn’t to say that these two are unique cases – each year plenty of new shows get revamped, recast, etc. between the time they’re picked up and aired – and it’s not to say that the revamping doesn’t sometimes result in successful series. HAWAII FIVE-O was tinkered with endlessly and did alright. Come to think of it they’re still tinkering (as well they should). Parker Posey and Alex Kapp Horner were just replaced on their picked-up pilots. (Talk about we have good news and bad news...)
The bottom line on why shows get picked up – need, scheduling requirements (e.g. we need another multi-camera sitcom to go with our Tim Allen existing multi-camera sitcom), commitments to producers and studios, and first and foremost – does the network own the show? If there’s one slot open on NBC and you have a show at Warner Brothers that’s going up against a show owned by NBC/Universal, who do you think has the edge?
And before you get outraged, just know this is business and this is the way it has always been done. Producers know it, writers know it, actors know it. Sometime you get jobbed but sometime you are the happy beneficiary. You just gotta play the game. And it is a game.
It's a big year for comedies. 20 new sitcoms have been ordered. Of course, last year 16 were ordered and only two survived (NEIGHBORS and THE MINDY PROJECT -- would those have been the two you guessed last September?).
Which brings us to the casualties – those current shows that were axed last week. Since I’m generally focused on comedies – NBC cancelled everything other than PARKS AND RECREATION (yay) and somewhat surprisingly, COMMUNITY (there’s a rumor that they might ask series creator, Dan Harmon back, but that’s ONLY a rumor -- repeat: ONLY a rumor). But WHITNEY (thank God), GO ON, THE NEW NORMAL, 1600 PENN – gone. (What a difference a year makes. Last year the two stars of THE BOOK OF MORMON – Andrew Rannells and Josh Gad – both got series on NBC. This year, they’re both out.) SMASH was also put out of its (and our) misery.
CBS cancelled RULES OF ENGAGEMENT (the show that everyone thought had been cancelled three years ago), but as of this writing picked up three new comedies. So it sounds like they will add another hour of sitcoms. Of all the networks CBS is always the most secretive.
ABC dumped MALIBU COUNTRY, HOW TO LIVE WITH YOUR PARENTS, FAMILY TOOLS, and HAPPY ENDINGS but picked up several new series. Steady performers, THE MIDDLE and SUBURGATORY will be back.
HAPPY ENDINGS is shopping elsewhere and may wind up on USA. It fared the best when following MODERN FAMILY and MF begins its syndication run on USA in the fall so the thinking is HE might be a good complement. Stay tuned. This is a whole new opportunity for cancelled series and failed pilots that never existed until a few years ago. Shows like COUGAR TOWN and SOUTHLAND (although it was just cancelled) have gotten a second life on cable channels. Studios are currently scrambling to see if they can do just that.
This is the time when things change and update almost by the minute. Networks are putting their final schedules together, deciding which of the shows they’ve picked up will be for the fall, mid-season, and how many will be ordered.
Let the games continue!
I had to share this. A sideline reporter for the L.A.Kings interviewing Matthew Perry yesterday. Check out what he says about GO ON. You won't believe it I promise you. Thanks to my son, Matt for finding this.
By Ken Levine at 6:00 AM