May 2009

May 31, 2009

Two Cents

Hair Comes Conan, At Long Last

Due to some bugginess with the relaunch of TVWeek.com, I'm reposting this week's column below:

It’s another sunny day in Southern California, and Conan O’Brien is about to go for a ride.

The soon-to-be host of “The Tonight Show” waits just outside the entrance of his new late-night Thunderdome, Stage One on the Universal Studios backlot. The calendar says Memorial Day, but while most of the world is firing up the grill, Mr. O’Brien is standing quietly by himself, clad in a snazzy blue suit and full makeup. A nondescript black van waits a few feet away, but Mr. O’Brien pauses to greet me.

He’s clearly in “show mode,” as publicist Drew Shane calls it. But it would be very un-Conan of Mr. O’Brien to not at least chat for a few minutes. We’ve known each other since the earliest days of Mr. O’Brien’s tenure as host of “Late Night.” I was a 22-year-old cub reporter fresh out of Boston University; he was a 30-year-old hosting rookie enduring one of the harshest TV debuts in the medium’s history.

We exchange pleasantries. Quickly, oddly, and yet somehow inevitably, our brief conversation turns to ... The Hair.

Continue reading Hair Comes Conan, At Long Last

May 30, 2009

The War on Late Night

Jay Gets a Bump, Destroys Dave One Last Time

In the end, Jay beat Dave. Again.

Friday night's final edition of "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" averaged an 8.8 rating in Nielsen's overnight metered market averages, crushing a repeat of CBS's "Late Show With David Letterman" (1.4/4) and giving "Tonight" its best Friday overnights ever during the Leno era.

Leno more than doubled his average ratings for the current quarter in the 56 metered markets. And for the full week, "Tonight" was up 41 percent over what it normally does, NBC said.

But with NBC long ago announcing that Leno would be back on the network with a 10 p.m. comedy strip, viewers clearly didn't feel the need to congregate around the screen en masse to get a final look at Jay the way they did when Johnny Carson called it quits in 1992. Indeed, Leno's last show doesn't even  appear to be the most-watched "Tonight" this year, thanks to the super numbers his show attracted March 19 with a visit from President Obama.

Obama gave Leno an 11.2 rating in the overnights.

Take out that Obama episode, however, and NBC said Friday's "Tonight" was the show's biggest episode since a 2005 edition paying tribute to Johnny Carson. 

Overnights aren't the most reliable measure of a show's performance, and they don't calculate what really matters to networks: How many viewers in key demographics tuned it. Still, for pop culture events such as Leno's goodbye, they're a good way to gauge overall interest.

As for how the last Leno episode of "Tonight" did vs. Johnny's goodbye, comparisons aren't really valid given the massively different TV landscape in 2009 vs. 1992.

Continue reading Jay Gets a Bump, Destroys Dave One Last Time

Scoop

'Medium' Man to NBC: 'Chuck' Off!

 

“Medium” creator Glenn Gordon Caron is questioning NBC’s decision to stick with “Chuck,” even as the network failed to make a deal to renew his series.

Appearing on next week’s edition of KCRW’s “The Business,” Caron tells host Kim Masters that he suspects “Chuck” was picked up as a favor to Warner Bros. Television, which produces a number of shows for NBC.

“'Chuck' is a very good show, but …they’ve tried to launch it vigorously, twice. They’ve spent an enormous amount of money, and twice they’ve been unable to wrangle an audience for it. So one has to stop and say, ‘OK, now why would you elect to do that a third time?' Is it simply because people are eating subway sandwiches?”

 

Caron suggests it’s because of NBC’s relationship with Warners. 

 

Continue reading 'Medium' Man to NBC: 'Chuck' Off!

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May 28, 2009

Behind the News

The Early Bird Gets the Viewer?

Local newscasts have been starting earlier and earlier in recent years. Now, KNBC is upping the ante in the early bird wars.

The NBC-owned station in Los Angeles this week moved the start time for "Today in LA" up-- or is it back?-- to the insomnia-friendly hour of 4 a.m.

KNBC used to start its pre-dawn show at 4:30 a.m., the same time KABC and KTLA begin their newscasts. But now that the NBC station has decide to go live at 4, it's probably just a matter of time before at least one other LA station decides to get up at 4 o'clock as well.

The early start time might seem ludicrous to folks in some parts of the country. But 5 a.m. traffic jams not unheard of in LA, KNBC probably made the right call.

Continue reading The Early Bird Gets the Viewer?

The War on Late Night

Jay Leno

Jay Leno vs. the Jelly Donut

Jay Leno once caught me stealing a jelly donut.

OK, I really wasn't stealing it. I was taking a tour of "The Tonight Show" offices, including the kitchen, and the publicist for the show at the time actually invited me to grab a bit from the box of Winchell's.

And wouldn't you know it, the moment I bit into the gooey center of said danish, Leno decided to walk in. He said "hi"; I just stood there with red jelly all over my face.

Talk about comic timing.

Continue reading Jay Leno vs. the Jelly Donut

May 27, 2009

MoJoe TV

When Jimmy Met Sally

ABC continues to roll out its new "ABC House" marketing campaign.

The promotional effort began earlier this month with a series of spots which aired in the finales of the network's big shows. Tonight, ABC used the season premiere of "Wipeout" to introduce a new spot in which "Brothers and Sisters" star Sally Field attempts to read a bedtime story to Jimmy Kimmel.

Take a look:

Continue reading When Jimmy Met Sally

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May 26, 2009

Hype!

How I Met a Cool Emmy Campaign

It's Emmy season in TV land, which means studios have begun rolling out trade ads to tout the virtues of their programs.

Of course, the Great Recession has prompted cuts in ad budgets across town. Thankfully, though, creativity hasn't disappeared.

Take, for instance, the classy new campaign from 20th Century Fox TV advancing "How I Met Your Mother" (see picture, above). Elegant and understated, it features cast members snazzily attired and holding yellow umbrellas. The rain gear is a reference to a plot point involving an umbrella's role in solving the show's title mystery.

We'll try to bring you other campaigns of distinction throughout the summer.

Continue reading How I Met a Cool Emmy Campaign

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May 25, 2009

The War on Late Night

Hanks, Paltrow Booked for Conan's First Week

Conan O'Brien has added a few more big names to the roster of guests for his first week as host of "The Tonight Show."

Conan O'Brien

Tom Hanks and Green Day are set to stop by on Tuesday, June 2. Sheryl Crow is set to perform June 3, sharing the "Tonight" couch with Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Bradley Cooper.

On June 4, Gwyneth Paltrow and the John Mayer Trio are scheduled to appear. O'Brien's first week wraps up June 5 with "American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest and music supergroup Chickenfoot.

NBC had previously announced Will Ferrell and Pearl Jam as the guests for O'Brien's first "Tonight Show," which airs June 1.

If you need a dose of Conan before June 1, check out Lynn Hirschberg's New York Times Magazine profile of O'Brien.

Or for a laugh, here's a correction the Times has added to Hirshberg's story:

An article on Page 30 this weekend about Conan O’Brien misspells the given name of the secretary of state, who appears on some of his memorabilia. She is Hillary Clinton, not Hilary.

And finally, after the jump, a cool new Conan promo now running on NBC:

Continue reading Hanks, Paltrow Booked for Conan's First Week

Breaking

The Inevitable Twitter TV Project

File this one under #jumpingonthebandwagon. Or, possibly, #aheadofthecurve.

"The Biggest Loser" producer Reveille and Brillstein Entertainment Partners are developing a reality TV show concept built around Twitter, the fast-growing microblogging service. The two companies announced their plans Monday, saying they "have partnered with Twitter" on the idea and that the concept is "the first worldwide television series to use the service to direct the action of the show."

Details of the project were few, but Reveille and Brillstein said the idea will put "ordinary people on the trail of celebrities in a revolutionary competition format."

Continue reading The Inevitable Twitter TV Project

May 21, 2009

Best Development Season...EVER!

The Upfront View From Los Angeles

In this recessionary times, more than a few folks have opted against making the shlep to New York for the upfronts this year.

Dawn Ostroff

Thankfully, modern technology means you don’t have to actually be in New York to get the Upfront Experience. Most of the networks do a decent job of holding mini-fronts in Los Angeles for ad buyers left behind.

Take The CW. It invited West Coast types to the Directors Guild of America theater this afternoon to get the full Ostroff.

The Dub (as Variety is now fond of calling it, forsaking the much classier C-Dub) did a bang-up job with its event.

Continue reading The Upfront View From Los Angeles

May 20, 2009

Breaking

The Mentalist

Here it Is: The CBS Schedule

CBS is shifting first-year hit "The Mentalist" to Thursdays and slightly shaking up its Monday comedy lineup.

The generally stable network is taking a couple of dice-rolls next season, though compared to ABC and NBC, promises to be an island of stability, according to the fall schedule just released by the network in New York.

Highlights include "The Mentalist" move to Thursdays at 10, behind "CSI," and "The Big Bang Theory" shifting to 9:30 p.m. Monday behind "Two and a Half Men." New drama "Three Rivers" has landed Sundays at 10, while, as expected, NBC drama "Medium" will relocate to Fridays at 9... on CBS.

The full schedule is after the jump:

Continue reading Here it Is: The CBS Schedule

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May 19, 2009

Breaking

Heeeeeere's...Oprah?

Before NBC asked Jay Leno to host a 10 p.m. weeknight show, Jeff Zucker says he asked Oprah Winfrey to go primetime for the Peacock.

That's according to TVWeek's Jon Lafayette, who just got out of an NBC roundtable with Leno and Zucker. Reports Lafayette:

Before deciding to put Jay Leno in primetime, NBC offered its 8 p.m. timeslot to Oprah Winfrey.

NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker said that the idea of have a nightly show in prime time wasn’t a new idea.

NBC talked to Ms. Winfrey about two years ago, Mr. Zucker said. She passed but said she might have considered it earlier in her career, he said. NBC also discussed an 8 p.m. show with David Letterman when the “Late Show” host’s contract was coming up at CBS.

Click here for the full story.

Continue reading Heeeeeere's...Oprah?

Best Development Season...EVER!

Twitterati on 'Modern Family': Mostly Raves

ABC's decision to screen the full pilot for "Modern Family" seems to be paying off—at least with the Twitterati.

Modern Family

The early feedback from TV reporter types who've been Tweeting ABC's upfront has been positive, bordering on glowing.

"'Modern Family' may not be as groundbreaking as (Steve) McPherson tried to suggest, but it's *really* funny and likable," wrote Dan Fienberg, critic for HitFix.com.

"It's freakin' funny," raved Maria Elena Fernandez of the Los Angeles Times.

Continue reading Twitterati on 'Modern Family': Mostly Raves

Best Development Season...EVER!

Without a Trace

Gone, 'Without a Trace'

No surprise, but CBS has pulled the plug on "Without a Trace," "The Unit" and "11th Hour."

That's the word from people familiar with the matter. All three shows had been at death's door for weeks now.

There's better news for "Cold Case," "Numbers," "The New Adventures of Old Christine," "Gary Unmarried" and "Rules of Engagement." They'll all be back on CBS next season.

Continue reading Gone, 'Without a Trace'

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Best Development Season...EVER!

The CW Skinny

Melrose Place

The CW will add three dramas to its fall lineup—but not a spinoff of "Gossip Girl."

The network has greenlit hours "Melrose Place," "The Vampire Diaries" and "The Beautiful Life" for the 2009-10 season. All three shows are expected to air in the fall.

A planned "Gossip" spinoff has been shelved, people familiar with the matter said. Also exiting the CW schedule: "Privileged," "The Game" and "Everybody Hates Chris."

Returning shows include "90210," "Supernatural," "Smallville," "America's Next Top Model" and "Gossip Girl."

Continue reading The CW Skinny

MoJoe TV

TV MoJoe's Tribute to the Fallen

ABC made it official today, confirming that "According to Jim" is really, finally, no-we-mean-it dead. The finale airs June 2.

"Jim" is far from the only casualty of the season. "Samantha Who" is over, while The CW this week will officially kill "Everybody Hates Chris" (barring a May miracle). The fates of "My Name Is Earl" and "The Unit" are also up in the air.

Let's pause for a minute to remember the Legends We Lost. Beyonce, care to do the honors?

Continue reading TV MoJoe's Tribute to the Fallen

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Scoop

Silverman: 'Not One Hand Raised' for 'Medium,' 'Earl'

Ben Silverman

NBC chief Ben Silverman is making it clear: Fan love for "Chuck" helped ensure the show's survival for a third season.

And he's making it just as clear that lack of passion for "Medium" and "My Name Is Earl" doomed those series.

In the case of "Chuck," Silverman said, "Both the fans of the shows that matter and the advertisers of the shows raised their hands to say, 'We need "Chuck" on the schedule.' We will send you Nerds. We will buy Subway $5 footlongs. We will do whatever it takes."

Continue reading Silverman: 'Not One Hand Raised' for 'Medium,' 'Earl'

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Behind the News

The Unit

The Unit: RIP

Not a shock: CBS has passed on picking up "The Unit." It appears homeless at the moment.

NBC has also, as expected, said goodbye to "Medium" and "My Name Is Earl." "Medium" could jump to CBS. "Earl" producer 20th Century Fox TV is talking to Fox and ABC about a pickup.

Continue reading The Unit: RIP

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Best Development Season...EVER!

The NBC Schedule

More on the details of NBC's new lineup over at TVWeek.com. The quick-and-dirty, cut-and-paste schedule is after the jump

Continue reading The NBC Schedule

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Breaking

Chuck Me? Chuck You!

NBC is crediting "fans and TV critics" for helping to save "Chuck." And the network showed its appreciation for the effort by letting the New York Times break the news that Subway had come on board as a new mega-sponsor of the show.

The Times says that next season, a main character in the series—Sarah—will get a job crafting sandwiches for the 'Bway.

Quotes from NBC's official release after the jump.

Continue reading Chuck Me? Chuck You!

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Breaking

Chuck: Mondays. 8. Post-Olympics.

NBC is keeping "Chuck" on Monday nights, but fans will have to wait to see the show.

Josh Schwartz

The series won't return until after the Olympics, the network is expected to announce later this morning. The New York Times just reported the midseason move for "Chuck," along with a new sponsorship deal with Subway that will have a main character working for the sandwich giant.

"Chuck" creator Josh Schwartz told TV MoJoe he's more than cool with NBC's scheduling.

"We are happy to be back," he e-mailed after the Times broke the "Chuck" scheduling. "Ready to serve—whenever. Wherever. We have the best audience in the world and we will do everything we can to make this worth the wait."

Continue reading Chuck: Mondays. 8. Post-Olympics.

Breaking

The ABC Schedule

Look after the jump for the ABC fall schedule. The leak was right: "Flash Forward" is Thursdays at 8. And hey, it's new Mark Burnett reality show "Shark Tank" Tuesdays at 8.

Comedies, as expected, are ABC's big Tuesday and Wednesday play.

“Our focus is always on delivering the best stories with the most memorable characters on TV, whether that’s established audience favorites or innovative new shows,” said ABC Entertainment Group President Steve McPherson. “This year we’ve got the best of both. We’re headed into the season with a strong slate of returning series as well as great new shows from one of our best development seasons ever.”

Continue reading The ABC Schedule

May 18, 2009

Best Development Season...EVER!

Modern Family

ABC and NBC: The Final Countdown

Tomorrow is two-fer Tuesday in TV land, with both ABC and NBC announcing their fall schedules.

Both networks have already announced most of their pickups. The only question marks hanging over NBC: The fates of "Medium" and "My Name is Earl." Both seem longshots to return, at least on the Peacock network.

Look for official word on ABC's lineup to emerge around 5 a.m. LA time Tuesday. NBC should follow around 8 a.m.

Continue reading ABC and NBC: The Final Countdown

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Hype!

Family Guy Promo

Coming to Fox: 'Shoving Buddies'!

With most of the nation's TV reporters in full upfront mode, one of the funniest in-jokes in quite a while slipped by relatively unnoticed over the weekend.

It also doubled as a pretty darn ingenious promotion for "24."

About midway through Sunday night's episode of "Family Guy," an on-air "swipe" hyping Fox's "24" suddenly appeared at the bottom of the screen. Nothing unusual, right?

Right. Except in this instance, one of the characters on "Family Guy"-- Stewie Griffin-- took notice of the promo.

Continue reading Coming to Fox: 'Shoving Buddies'!

Breaking

Law & Order

Law. Order. Renewed.

No surprise, but it looks as if NBC has made it official and greenlit another round of "Law & Order." Representatives for the network couldn't be reached, but industry insiders say it's a done deal.

With "Chuck" back for another season, the only two question marks on NBC are "My Name is Earl" and "Medium." Neither show has been considered likely to return.

UPDATE: Hearing NBC has ordered 16 episodes.

Continue reading Law. Order. Renewed.

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Best Development Season...EVER!

Samantha Who?

The 'Who' is Dead; Long Live Samantha?

Variety is reporting that ABC has pulled the plug on "Samantha Who," but I wouldn't be surprised if we see Christina Applegate pop up again soon on the network.

"Who" had seemed pretty dead to me after it moved to Thursday and failed to generate much love from viewers. Expectations were low in the timeslot, but "Who" didn't even match those low hopes.

Still, there had been buzz in recent days that ABC was trying to find a way to keep "Who" alive by changing the way the show was shot. It made some sense...and yet not really.

"Who" has had every chance to succeed on ABC. And yet, despite a strong core of fans (including Mama Adalian), it just never took off.

What is clear, however: Applegate is a major star. And ABC executives love her.

Continue reading The 'Who' is Dead; Long Live Samantha?

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The War on Late Night

Conan Books His First Guests

Will Ferrell is a busy man.

Fresh off his "Saturday Night Live" finale duty, the "Land of the Lost" star has just landed a spot as Conan O'Brien's first guest on "The Tonight Show."

As for music, O'Brien has booked a little band called … Pearl Jam.

Conan takes over from Jay on June 1. As if you didn't already know that.

Continue reading Conan Books His First Guests

Scoop

Fringe

J.J. Abrams: 'Fringe' Will Be Fine

J.J. Abrams isn't overly worried about Fox's decision to shift "Fringe" to Thursdays.

The writer-producer-director took a break from counting the massive box office take for his "Star Trek" reboot to weigh in on the network's surprise scheduling shift.

"With realistic expectations, I have faith that 'Fringe' will thrive," he said via e-mail.

Continue reading J.J. Abrams: 'Fringe' Will Be Fine

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Best Development Season...EVER!

'Undercover Boss' Gets Real at CBS

CBS has made its 2009-10 series orders.

Reality pilot "Undercover Boss" has landed a pickup, while comedy "Accidentally on Purpose" is also a go.

As expected, dramas "Miami Trauma," "The Good Wife," "Three Rivers" and "NCIS: Cool J" are all a go as well.

CBS won't officially inform bubble shows of their fates until tomorrow. And some of the shows listed above will be held for midseason.

Continue reading 'Undercover Boss' Gets Real at CBS

Breaking

Fox Upfront 2009

The Fox Schedule Is...

Fox has announced its new fall schedule. And surprise! "Fringe" is moving to Thursdays at 9. Details/analysis to come.... but the full schedule is after the jump.

Continue reading The Fox Schedule Is...

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May 17, 2009

Etc.

If It's Monday, It Must Be CBS TV Studios

With little fanfare, CBS Corp. has decided to change the name of its domestic and international production units.

CBS Paramount Network Television is now simply CBS Television Studios. And the Eye's international unit now goes by the moniker CBS Studios International (or CSI, if you're feeling cheeky).

The change first surfaced last week, when Daily Variety reported the studio's new overall deal with "Numb3rs" producer Ken Sanzel. CBS Television Studios didn't put out a release on the makeover.

So why the change?

Continue reading If It's Monday, It Must Be CBS TV Studios

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Scoop

Chenbot Alert! 'Big Brother' Back July 9

Julie Chen

"Big Brother" fans, mark your calendars: The madness begins again Thursday, July 9.

That's the date CBS has set for the 11th season premiere of summer's longest-running reality tradition. The network isn't talking, but two people familiar with the matter confirmed the scheduling.

What's not certain is whether CBS also plans to continue the show's recent Thursday-Sunday-Tuesday air pattern. It might want to wait until its fall schedule is finalized, since CBS likes to move existing shows into their new fall timeslots over the summer, letting "Brother" fill in the holes left by dead or relocated shows.

One caveat: If CBS makes any radical schedule changes Wednesday, it's possible the July 9 premiere date could change. But it's not likely.

Let the countdown begin.

(Full disclosure: I originally posted the date as Thursday, July 7. Which might be true … on a year when July 7 is a Thursday, not a Tuesday. The dangers of late-night blogging, example 283…).

Continue reading Chenbot Alert! 'Big Brother' Back July 9

Scoop

The Dark Knight of TV Promos Returns

The man who coined the phrase "Must See TV" is now at ABC.

Vince Manze, the longtime NBC marketing wiz who struck out on his own last fall, has signed a consultancy deal with ABC. He has been a key part of ABC's new "ABC House" marketing campaign, according to ABC marketing co- chief Mike Benson.

"Vince just has a great track record," Benson said. "Just because NBC doesn't want to use him anymore, it doesn't mean he's not worth using."

Continue reading The Dark Knight of TV Promos Returns

Two Cents

CSI

Why CBS Should Move 'CSI' … and 'The Mentalist'

File this one under total rampant unfounded speculation. Or, perhaps, Modest Proposals.

CBS should consider moving the original-recipe incarnation of "CSI" to 10 p.m. Thursdays.

I have not a shred of evidence to suggest the network has any plans whatsoever to do this. And, if history is any guide, there's no chance whatsoever this will happen.

After all, CBS is the Network of Stability. Scheduling overlord Kelly Kahl is known for running the least bouncy ship on the high seas of network television. He will do just about anything to avoid an unneeded move of an existing hit.

But here's why I think "CSI" might be best served by a 10 p.m. timeslot:

Continue reading Why CBS Should Move 'CSI' … and 'The Mentalist'

Newsstand

ABC's McPherson: Comedy Hot. Nielsen … Not

ABC chief Steve McPherson had a busy weekend, greenlighting a dozen new and returning bubble shows in preparation for the fall.

The new issue of TelevisionWeek has my Q&A with McSteve. While he doesn't drop any bombshells, McPherson reveals just how happy he seems to be with this year's development roster, that he thinks ABC has its best comedy slate in years and how he thinks Jimmy Kimmel will fare against Conan O'Brien. He also takes a dig or two at Nielsen.

Read the full transcript here.

Continue reading ABC's McPherson: Comedy Hot. Nielsen … Not

Scoop

Medium

'Medium' Could Be on the Move

"Medium" could be on the move.

Negotiations between NBC and CBS Television Studios are said to be at an impasse, leading to informed speculation that the show could be headed to the CBS Television Network.

NBC had been looking to bring back "Medium," but with a deal similar to what the network negotiated last year: A firm 13-episode pickup with an option to expand the order to 22 episodes later in the season. That's the deal NBC brokered with CBS' studio arm last year; the network eventually increased its commitment to a full season.

Continue reading 'Medium' Could Be on the Move

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Breaking

CHUCK: It's Saved

Informed source says the deal is done. "Chuck" will be back for 13.

Continue reading CHUCK: It's Saved

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Scoop

Chuck

Is Today the Day for 'Chuck' Fans?

No guarantees, but sources are thinking NBC and Warner Bros. could reach a deal sometime today for "Chuck" to return. However, given likely budget cuts to the show, the cast now will be dining exclusively on Five Dollar Footlongs from Subway (Eat Fresh). Not because of product placement, but because that's all they'll be able to afford.

Welcome to the (new) Hollywood.

Continue reading Is Today the Day for 'Chuck' Fans?

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Best Development Season...EVER!

Tossed Salad and Scrambled Eggs

The curtain is about to go up.

In just over 24 hours, Fox will kick off Upfront Week 2009 with its presentation at City Center in New York. Insert your own cliche here about months of sweat, planning, hoping and dreaming coming to fruition. Or take a moment to predict just what song the "Glee" cast will perform for jaded advertisers, no doubt moving some to tears ("Don't Stop Believin'" is the current favorite according to my Vegas connections. I think "Wheel in the Sky" might be a better metaphor for the cyclical nature of TV, but...I digress).

Today promises to be thick with last-minute rumors. We've been hearing for weeks about shows jumping networks; we'll find out shortly whether that was posturing, or whether the moving vans will actually be used. I'd love to see "Medium" jump to CBS, because honestly, the show has always belong there (Fridays at 9 after "Ghost Whisperer," to be precise.

Continue reading Tossed Salad and Scrambled Eggs

May 16, 2009

Best Development Season...EVER!

Eleventh Hour

CBS: Looking Good for Three Shows; Bubble May Have Burst for "Eleventh Hour"

CBS is moving closer to picking up its 2009-10 roster of dramas.

The network has given producers of "Three Rivers," "The Good Wife" and "NCIS: LL Cool J" authorization to begin staffing writers, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. While not a guarantee of a pickup, it's almost always followed by a pickup.

There's also buzz that current CBS dramas "The Unit" and "Eleventh Hour" have been spotted on the corner of "Harper's Island" and "Swingtown" (read: they're dead). While "Eleventh Hour" has been a longshot at renewal for months now, the fate of "The Unit" has been far less certain. Indeed, Variety reported last night that things were looking up for the 20th Century Fox TV show-- so maybe it's not wise to count it out just yet.

A CBS rep, citing the network's policy against saying anything of consequence in the days leading up to the upfronts, declined comment.

Continue reading CBS: Looking Good for Three Shows; Bubble May Have Burst for "Eleventh Hour"

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The Numbers

Farrah Fawcett Special Wins the Night

"Farrah Fawcett: My Story" drew a big audience on NBC-- at least by Friday night standards.

The two-hour special, which mixed home video footage and interviews with Fawcett as she fights cancer, averaged a 2.4/8 in adults 18-49 and just under 9 million viewers from 9-11 p.m. Friday. That's according to preliminary national data from Nielsen.

"My Story" grew every half hour, and drew particularly big numbers among women 25-54 (4.6/13).

Continue reading Farrah Fawcett Special Wins the Night

Best Development Season...EVER!

Whedon Confirms: 'Dollhouse' a Go

Joss Whedon is talking about Fox's decision to order more episodes of his Friday night drama "Dollhouse."

In a post on Whedonesque, the creator calls Fox's pickup "nothing short of a gift":

Any thread that contains both "Shpadoinkle" and "Yub Yub" is truly exciting. And anything that reunites me with my stunning cast and my crazy staff (or "room fulla Tophers", as I call them) is nothing short of a gift. Heady times, indeed. We're two weeks away from finishing "Cabin" and now it looks like no summer vacation after all. But oh, the terrible things my brain is brewing... Just wait. We'll make it worth it.

Thanks for hanging in.

Continue reading Whedon Confirms: 'Dollhouse' a Go

May 15, 2009

Best Development Season...EVER!

More ABC Buzz: Patricia Heaton and Kelsey Grammer

A very reliable industry insider says that ABC has given a thumbs up to the Patricia Heaton comedy "The Middle," as well as the Kelsey Grammer comedy project. This is consistent with scuttlebutt that ABC is very high on its comedy development.

This is unconfirmed information, however. More later....

IMPACTING!!

UPDATE: Grammer's show is now being called "Hank." It had been known as "Awesome Hank". Maybe somebody worried about a Barney Stinson lawsuit?

Continue reading More ABC Buzz: Patricia Heaton and Kelsey Grammer

Best Development Season...EVER!

More Love from ABC: 'Eastwick' and 'Forgotten'

ABC is picking up the pace of its pickups.

According to two people familar with the network's plans, the David Nutter-directed revival of "The Witches of Eastwick" (called simply "Eastwick") and the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced "Forgotten" have both snagged series orders from ABC.

In addition, things are looking good for another season of reality show "True Beauty," which did nicely behind "The Bachelor" last winter.

All three projects are from the Warner Bros. TV family.

Continue reading More Love from ABC: 'Eastwick' and 'Forgotten'

Breaking

Dollhouse

Welcome to Another Season of 'Dollhouse'

Fox has ordered a second, 13-episode season of the Joss Whedon sci-fi drama "Dollhouse," people familiar with the matter said.

Many media types had written off the show for dead, since its ratings on Friday have been...suboptimal. And yet, insiders at the network have been cautioning for weeks that the show shouldn't be cut out.

Last month, TVWeek reported that, "Fox executives are holding out a glimmer of hope for the show, noting its loyal core and its strong DVR numbers." The reason Fox wanted to take a chance on the show: Whedon's audience is loyal and predictable, and it's not hard to see Fox's sales department arguing that it's easier to sell a 1.2 demo rating from "Dollhouse" than a reality show averaged a 1.6.

It's also good business for sister studio 20th Century Fox TV, which always does a good job exploiting properties via DVD and iTunes sales.

As part of the deal to bring back "Dollhouse," it seems likely 20th will have to deliver the show to Fox at a lower cost. However, executives at the network and studio aren't talking right now, making it tough to get details on the deal.

Continue reading Welcome to Another Season of 'Dollhouse'

Best Development Season...EVER!

Bubble Yum: Your Friday Fix

Even as speculation heats up that "Dollhouse" might yet return for another season, there remain plenty of shows on the bubble the Friday before upfront week. What's different this year, however, is why they're on said bubble.

"Usually, 80% of bubble shows are there for creative reasons, with 20% on the bubble because of financial matters," one top agent says. "This year, the equation has been reversed."

Take "Chuck": NBC has decided it wants the show to return. (Yay!) But multiple sources said the network is looking to cut costs dramatically. Given that the show is already produced on a relative shoestring, Warner Bros. TV may have to scramble to make "Chuck" work.

Continue reading Bubble Yum: Your Friday Fix

May 14, 2009

The War on Late Night

Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien Set

Conan Is Feeling a Little Blue

NBC has released the first picture of the new "Tonight Show With Conan O'Brien" set—and it's quite striking.

The dominant color on the set is blue: Blue curtains, blue carpet, a blue bandstand and a blue skyline of Los Angeles at night. The background includes a number of L.A. landmarks, including the Capitol Records tower and what appears to be City Hall. There's also a giant full moon.

As for the mandatory late-night couch, it's not blue. It's more of a burnt orange. It looks quite plush.

Continue reading Conan Is Feeling a Little Blue

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Best Development Season...EVER!

'Bones': Crisis Averted at Fox?

Fox and 20th Century Fox TV are thisclose to making a deal for a fifth season of "Bones"—but getting there wasn't without some tense moments.


With less than 100 hours before Fox announces its fall schedule, the network and its sister studio couldn't say late Thursday that a deal had been closed for another season of the show. However, people familiar with the matter said that the situation was moving quickly, and that a deal could be finalized as soon as tonight or tomorrow morning.

So, when all is said and done, "Bones" will almost certainly be back on Fox, and viewers will never know the difference.

But behind the scenes, there has been a bit of drama in recent days as 20th and Fox haggled over finding an appropriate license fee for "Bones."

Continue reading 'Bones': Crisis Averted at Fox?

Best Development Season...EVER!

Fox Says 'L'Chaim' to 'Past Life'

Samantha Who

By today's supercharged standards, this is already old news. But yes, Fox has picked up "Past Life" to series, according to a person familiar with the matter. The news broke over at Variety earlier today.

The green trade also has the latest on the fight to keep "Samantha Who" alive. It suggests ABC wants to turn the show into a single/multicam hybrid, a la "How I Met Your Mother." I had heard buzz last week that ABC executives have also let it be known that they'd be "thrilled" to have "Samantha" star Christina Applegate simply start over in a whole new show.

Continue reading Fox Says 'L'Chaim' to 'Past Life'

MoJoe TV

Hello, 'Cleveland'

The wait is almost over for "The Cleveland Show."

Long lead times are standard for most primetime animation shows. But really, doesn't it seem like it's been about five years since Fox announced it was doing a spinoff of "Family Guy"?

Actually, the Hollywood Reporter first broke the news about "Cleveland" back in February 2008. Last fall, TVWeek reported that the show was being pushed from its planned spring debut to a fall 2009 launch, and that the network had ordered a full season. And earlier this month came word that Fox had ordered 13 more episodes.

Despite all this coverage, however, viewers have yet to see a single episode of "Cleveland." That should change this fall, however.

To tide you over, Fox has released a new trailer for "The Cleveland Show." This one features Cleveland saying goodbye to the Griffins.

Two words: Chocolate people.

Continue reading Hello, 'Cleveland'

  • POSTED 12:29 PM
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The War on Late Night

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno

Staying Classy, Jay Leno!

Well, that's just classy.

Jay Leno has just announced that Conan O'Brien will be a guest on the final edition of "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," airing May 29.

Given all the rancor that surrounded Leno's takeover from Johnny Carson, Leno's decision reeks of good will. There's been plenty of media-stoked buzz about Leno not really wanting to give up "The Tonight Show," but Leno's own actions haven't betrayed a hint of that.

We're still hoping David Letterman will finally come to his senses and say some nice things about Jay—and Conan—before next month's big baton passing.

Until then, Leno remains a role model for how big celebrities should conduct themselves.

Continue reading Staying Classy, Jay Leno!

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Breaking

High Five to CBS: Barney Does Tony

This year's Tony Awards could be legend....wait for it....

Neil Patrick Harris

OK, never mind. But the good news is: CBS has snagged multitalented "How I Met Your Mother" star Neil Patrick Harris to host the 63rd annual Tony Awards. The show is June 7.

I had figured—perhaps, "hoped" is a better word—NPH's gig hosting the TV Land Awards a few weeks ago was a test run for a bigger stage. By all accounts, Harris did great, clearing the way for his Tony triumph.

Harris also killed as host of "Saturday Night Live" earlier this season. True triple threat, he.

If my master plan for Harris unfolds as I envision it, look for "The Neil Patrick Harris Variety Hour" to be announced within the next six months. In-between, I've got the fingers crossed for NPH to fill-in for the pregnant Julie Chen on "Big Brother" this summer, assuming the Chenbot needs relief as her due date looms.

A few more details on the hiring over here at TVWeek.com.

Continue reading High Five to CBS: Barney Does Tony

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May 13, 2009

Best Development Season...EVER!

Is Fox Planning A Big Move Next Monday?

The new fall schedule Fox will announce next week promises to offer both stability—and quite possibly, surprise.

While the network isn't saying much about its plans until Monday, when it kicks off upfront week, industry insiders believe that radical across-the-board changes are unlikely. Indeed, thanks to a series of shifts made during the past six months, Fox heads into next fall with it arguably its strongest lineup in years.

Still, while stability may be the watchword at Fox, that doesn't mean the network's announcement will be drama-free. Insiders indicate Fox may be ready to take some big chances.

Continue reading Is Fox Planning A Big Move Next Monday?

Behind the News

Jon Stewart: 'Daily' Love for 'Chuck'

The Save "Chuck" campaign has picked up some unexpected support from... Jon Stewart?

The host of "The Daily Show" threw in a random plug for the NBC bubble show Tuesday night during a segment ripping House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over her knowledge of the Bush administration's torture activities.

"It’s good to know that Nancy Pelosi took torture as seriously as a ‘Don’t Cancel 'Chuck' petition," Stewart said, adding: "But seriously though, don’t cancel 'Chuck'.”

Video of the segment below, with the "Chuck" quip at the very end of the clip:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Waffle House
thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisPolitical Humor

Continue reading Jon Stewart: 'Daily' Love for 'Chuck'

The Numbers

Ratings Flash: Expanding 'Loser' Pays Off

Megasizing its reality shows has turned out to be a pretty good idea for NBC.

Sunday's three-hour swan song for "The Apprentice" helped the network stay very competitive on a tough night. And now, "The Biggest Loser" has wrapped its seventh cycle with some stunning stats.

Sergio Ibarra will have more details soon over in Ratings Chart Attack!, but Tuesday's amply-proportioned "Loser" exit notched a 4.7/12 over the course of its three-hours, according to prelim fast national data from Nielsen. That was enough to let NBC come within spitting distance of Fox for the night, which averaged a 6.1/16 with its combo of "American Idol" and "Fringe."

Continue reading Ratings Flash: Expanding 'Loser' Pays Off

May 12, 2009

Best Development Season...EVER!

Lie to Me

Upfront News: Fox Plans to 'Lie' More

Fox, which kicks off next week's upfront festivities on Monday, is starting to move forward with its plans for the 2009-10 season.

The network has picked up freshman drama "Lie to Me" for a second season, a Fox spokeswoman confirmed. Shawn Ryan ("The Shield") is joining as showrunner. It's unclear what, if anything, this means to the future of Ryan's CBS bubble drama "The Unit."

Meanwhile, industry insiders confirm that Fox has greenlit drama "Human Target" and half-hour "Sons of Tucson." Reports of the pickups were first published on the Web sites of Variety and The Hollywood Reporter earlier this afternoon.

Both "Target" and "Tucson" have long been considered likely candidates for series orders. They join already greenlit Fox fall series "Glee" and "Cleveland."

In kinda sorta related news: E! Online is reporting that Starz has ordered another season of "Party Down," the critical fave from Rob Thomas.

Continue reading Upfront News: Fox Plans to 'Lie' More

Hype!

NBC Universal Five Years

Happy Birthday to U

Just in time for upfront season, NBC Universal is gearing up its promotional machine to hype... NBC Universal.

The conglomerate turns five years old today, and to mark the anniversary, it's ordered all of its networks to air a 30-second spot touting the many tentacles of the NBC U organization. The ad will be roadblocked at 8 p.m. ET/PT this evening, which means it will air simultaneously on all the various NBC U networks, from NBC to USA to Mun 2, as well as the company's Times Square billboard, both of its theme parks—and even in New York City taxicabs.

NBC U said today that the ad marks the beginning of a year-long effort to celebrate the virtues of its merger with Vivendi Universal. Check out the spot, plus a special birthday message from Jeff Zucker, after the jump. We've even included bonus video of NBC Universal Chief Marketing Officer John Miller for all of you marketing geeks out there.

Continue reading Happy Birthday to U

The Numbers

Gossip Girl

Ratings: 'Gossip' Spinoff Pops, 'Deal' Flops

Complete ratings coming later this morning from Sergio Ibarra, but a couple of quick flashes:

—The CW's "Gossip Girl" spinoff pilot delivered a nice little Nielsen pop. While the show matched last week's numbers among adults 18-34, it was up nearly 10 percent week-to-week among adults 18-49. That could be a sign the project's concept—retro, 80s-based "Gossip"—appeals to slightly older viewers than the CW core. Given the CW's need to expand a bit beyond its core of really young women, the numbers should give ammo to those inside the network arguing for a pickup.

—"Deal or No Deal" may be dead as an in-season player on NBC. The gameshow sank to a 1.0/3 this week, down double digit's from last week's already embarrassing return numbers. I don't see how NBC avoids pulling "Deal" from its lineup, immediately. It could still bring back episodes in the summer.

Continue reading Ratings: 'Gossip' Spinoff Pops, 'Deal' Flops

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May 11, 2009

The War on Late Night

Andy Richter: Heeeeere's Conan!

Does Andy Richter have some unresolved issues with boss Conan O'Brien? Check out the latest pre-launch video from the folks at the new "Tonight Show," and judge for yourself.

June 1 can't come soon enough.


Continue reading Andy Richter: Heeeeere's Conan!

  • POSTED 3:28 PM
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MoJoe Retro

Don't Like This Post? Kiss My Grits!

Would you believe NBC is preparing to air a two-hour special counting down the 50 funniest catch phrases in TV history?

You bet your sweet bippy it is. The network today announced plans to air a Paley Center for Media special devoted to "Best Catch Phrases" on Tuesday, May 26, at 8 p.m.

The clipfest will feature a slew of funny faces, both dead and alive, including Jeremy Piven, Dana Carvey, Neil Patrick Harris, Jean Stapleton, Ron Howard, Andy Griffith, Jackie Gleason, Regis Philbin, Bob Newhart, Penny Marshall, Polly Holliday and Redd Foxx. It will mix archival footage with original interviews.

Continue reading Don't Like This Post? Kiss My Grits!

  • POSTED 3:12 PM
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Hype!

Glee

Gimme a G! Gimme a...Oh, Never Mind

Fox is betting advertisers will be in a "Glee"-ful mood following the network's upfront presentation next Monday.

The network's marketing team has arranged for cast members from the show, along with a team of cheerleaders dubbed the "Cheerios," to stage a live perfomance on the streets of Manhattan at 5 p.m. May 18. That's immediately after Fox's formal presentation wraps.

The "Cheerios" will strut their stuff just outside City Center Theater, where Fox's upfront will be held. A dozen members of the "Glee" cast are slated to participate in the event, which will feature stunts and gymnastics in addition to singing.

In addition to pumping up advertisers, Fox is hoping the performance will help hype the Tuesday, May 19 sneak preview of "Glee." The network is using next week's broadcast as the beginning of its fall marketing campaign for the show.

Fox is no stranger to upfront showmanship. Last year, the network had live cows roaming the streets of New York on the day of its upfront, all to tout the launch of new drama "Fringe."

For anyone not yet familiar with "Glee," an extended trailer released last month by Fox is on the jump.

Continue reading Gimme a G! Gimme a...Oh, Never Mind

Breaking

Emmys Get a Little More Variety

David Letterman's writers will no longer have to compete with the likes of Tony Bennett as part of a just-announced Emmys rule change.

The Emmys

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences has decided to split up the series and specials categories for both writing and directing in a variety, music or comedy program. Until recently, one-off specials were grouped together with ongoing series such as "Late Show with David Letterman" or "Real Time with Bill Maher."

More on the story over at TVWeek.com.

Continue reading Emmys Get a Little More Variety

May 10, 2009

Best Development Season...EVER!

Boo! 'Ghost Whisperer' Headed Back to CBS

It appears as though "Ghost Whisperer" will haunt CBS for another season.

Ghost Whisperer

A person familiar with the situation said the network has picked up the Jennifer Love Hewitt series for next fall. Details of the pickup were not immediately available.

While a CBS renewal had always been the most likely option, ABC Studios—which co-produces "Ghost" with CBS Paramount Network Television—has been informally shopping the series to other networks. ABC and, to a much lesser degree, Fox had indicated they would be interested in the show if CBS didn't close a deal.

At issue: A new license fee for "Ghost." Networks normally need to pay the full cost of a series once it reaches its fifth season. But given current broadcast economics, CBS had balked at that scenario.

Continue reading Boo! 'Ghost Whisperer' Headed Back to CBS

Shame!

We Report, You Decide: Fox News Anchor Attacks Perez Hilton as 'An Awful Human Being'

Fox News anchors Gregg Jarrett and Julie Banderas are apparently not bigs fan of celebrity blogger Perez Hilton.

Perez Hilton

During Sunday evening's "Fox News Live," Jarrett blasted Hilton as "despicable" and an awful human being. The reason: Jarrett didn't like Hilton's decision to ask Miss California Carrie Prejean her opinion on gay marriage during last month's Miss USA pageant.

"I feel sorry for all the heat that she got from Perez Hilton. What an awful human being," Jarrett said while bantering with co-anchor Julie Banderas about news that Prejean might be stripped of her title.

Prejean's work for an anti-gay-marriage group is being investigated by the Miss California organization, as are semi-nude pictures of Prejean that surfaced this week.

Banderas quickly seconded Jarrett's dig at Hilton.

Continue reading We Report, You Decide: Fox News Anchor Attacks Perez Hilton as 'An Awful Human Being'

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May 9, 2009

MoJoe TV

Timberlake & Samberg: How They Met Your 'Mother'

"Saturday Night Live" is just starting here on the West Coast, but advance word from the Twitterati is that Justin Timberlake once again elevated the entire show. And just in time for Mother's Day, the comedy duo of Timberlake and Andy Samberg are back with a sequel to "D--- in a Box." It's called "Mother Lover," and it's just as inappropriate as the title implies.

Check it out below:

Continue reading Timberlake & Samberg: How They Met Your 'Mother'

  • POSTED 11:43 PM
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May 8, 2009

Best Development Season...EVER!

Flash Forward

'Flash' Will Go Forward

ABC has made it official and picked up drama "Flash Forward" for next season.

The news is not unexpected, given the huge series penalty attached to the project, according to multiple reports. What's more, ABC has been airing promos for the show for the past week.

According to ABC, "Flash Forward," which is based on Robert J. Sawyer's novel of the same names and stars Joseph Fiennes, "chronicles the aftermath of a global event in which everyone in the world blacks out for 2 minutes, 17 seconds, and has mysterious visions of six months into the future."

David Goyer is exec producer-writer-director. Brannon Braga is exec producer and co-wrote the pilot. Other executive producers are Jessika Goyer, Vince Gerardis, Ralph Vicinanza and Marc Guggenheim. Guggenheim—new to the project—will be showrunner along with David Goyer.

ABC earlier this week greenlit its first comedy project for the 2009-10 season, ordering "Modern Family" to series.

Continue reading 'Flash' Will Go Forward

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Newsstand

TV's Staffing Depression

Just in time for the weekend comes another horror story from the front lines of Hollywood's war on costs.

My former Variety colleague Cynthia Littleton has an article out today nicely summing up the nightmare that is this spring's TV staffing season. I've seen Tweets and blog posts about how tough it is for writers to land gigs on shows; Littleton explains just how bad things have gotten.

Industry sources say studios producing skeins for Big Four nets are pushing for cuts of as much as 10%-15% in the writing budget for returning series, while new shows will start out with smaller staffs than first-year shows in recent seasons. Where skeins once had as many as 10-12 writers, not including the showrunner(s), the new norm is becoming six to eight.

You can read the full story right here.

Continue reading TV's Staffing Depression

May 7, 2009

Behind the News

'Virtuality': The Final Insult

Burnoff Theater is making a comeback this summer.

A Fox spokeswoman confirmed today that the network will air the apparently failed two-hour pilot for “Virtuality” on Saturday, July 4. Website The Futon Critic first noted the scheduling earlier today.

“Virtuality” is from “Battlestar Galactica” showrunner Ronald Moore and producers Gail Berman and Lloyd Braun. Fans of “BSG” have been buzzing about the project since it was first greenlit more than a year ago. Executives at the network weren’t wowed when they screened the finish product, but there had been talk that Fox might try to rework the pilot.

Continue reading 'Virtuality': The Final Insult

Breaking

Good News for 'Castle': ABC Nixes 'Suburbia'

ABC is showing some love to new drama “Castle.”

The network this week decided to dump a planned episode of so-so sitcom “Surviving Suburbia” in order to expand “Dancing With the Stars” to two full hours. The result: A massive 40% ratings uptick for 10 p.m. drama “Castle.”

No surprise, then, that ABC today decided to preempt next Monday’s “Suburbia” for yet another supersized “Dancing.” It’s one more sign that executives at the network are feeling good about bringing the Nathan Fillion-led “Castle” back for a second season.

Continue reading Good News for 'Castle': ABC Nixes 'Suburbia'

  • POSTED 5:44 PM
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Behind the News

Chuck.jpg

Are Things Looking Up for 'Chuck'?

Well, “Chuck” me.

NBC still isn’t expected to make a final call on its bubble shows until May 19, when it reveals exact details of its fall schedule. But there are signs that things just might be looking up for “Chuck,” the NBC comedy-drama we at MoJoe tend to write about as often as Perez Hilton mentions Lindsay Lohan.

Two Peacock insiders told us this afternoon that NBC executives have started taking notice of the massive Twitter- and Internet-based fan campaign to Save Chuck. “I think it’s working,” said one NBC source not given to overstatement.

Both insiders cautioned that there’s still no guarantee “Chuck” will get a pickup. But they said the fan campaigns to patronize sponsor Subway and to send Nerds candies to executives have impressed NBC suits.

Also helping things: The super-low ratings for this week’s return of “Deal or No Deal,” which attracted exactly half the young-adult audience as a typical episode of “Chuck.” NBC brass realize they could do a lot worse than “Chuck” on Mondays.

Stay tuned.

Continue reading Are Things Looking Up for 'Chuck'?

  • POSTED 5:21 PM
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Etc.

A Little Afternoon 'Star Trek' Hype

With just a few hours before the new J.J. Abrams version of "Star Trek" opens, we at TV MoJoe were feeling a little left out. Everyone else in the media universe has been talking up how awesome the movie is, but we hadn't found an angle.

Thankfully, CBS came through with some clips from tonight's edition of "Late Show with David Letterman" top 10 list. Special guest: Leonard Nimoy. Have a gander:

Continue reading A Little Afternoon 'Star Trek' Hype

  • POSTED 4:39 PM
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Breaking

ABC Starts a New 'Family'

The networks just can’t wait to start planning for the 2009-10 season.

NBC has already ordered all of its new series for fall. Fox is busy promoting “Glee” and will soon start hyping “Cleveland.”

Now comes word that ABC has given an official series pickup to “Modern Family,” the mockumentary-style comedy from producers Steve Levitan and Chris Lloyd. The network has ordered 12 episodes in addition to the pilot.

20th Century Fox, which has a rich overall deal with Levitan and Lloyd, is behind the show.

In addition to “Family,” ABC has all but given the thumbs up to “Flash Forward,” a new sci-fi drama that the network has already starting hyping on air. Don’t be surprised if ABC starts banging the drum for “Family” during its upcoming series finales.

UPDATE: Talked to an ABC insider who says that today's pickup was the result of "through the roof" testing. In addition, the network is looking to signal its commitment to comedy with the early greenlight.

Continue reading ABC Starts a New 'Family'

The War on Late Night

Prince: The Wind Beneath Jay Leno's Wings

Will Prince turn out to be Jay Leno's Bette Midler?

Prince

The pint-sized, purple-loving singer from Minnesota has agreed to perform on the penultimate edition of "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," NBC said Thursday. Prince will appear alongside Billy Crystal, who also visited the very first edition of Leno's "Tonight Show."

"Tonight" historians will recall that Midler serenaded Johnny Carson on the next-to-the-last edition of his iconic NBC show. No word yet on whether Prince is planning something touching ("Purple Rain," perhaps) or a bit funkier ("Darling Nikki"?)

The rest of Leno's final week guest bookings:

—Monday, May 25: Mel Gibson and Lyle Lovett.
—Tuesday, May 26: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dwight Yoakam.
—Wednesday, May 27: Wanda Sykes and Sarah McLachlan.

Leno will reveal his final guest during a conference call with reporters next week.

Continue reading Prince: The Wind Beneath Jay Leno's Wings

  • POSTED 12:16 PM
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The Numbers

Why ABC's 'Castle' Just Got Renewed

The good folks at Nielsen, apparently in a generous mood, have decided to share some ratings data with the rest of the world this morning by releasing numbers for Monday night's primetime shows.

Castle

My colleague Sergio Ibarra will have a more detailed report later, but Monday's figures provide some clues to the fates of several shows:

—ABC's "Castle" popped big time, jumping to a 2.8/7 behind an average episode of "Dancing with the Stars." The series had been averaging just about a 2 rating in the demo. ABC executives were already leaning toward a renewal for the Nathan Fillion crime caper; assuming Nielsen doesn't change its mind and confess to some big mistake, "Castle" fans can start looking forward to season two.

Continue reading Why ABC's 'Castle' Just Got Renewed

  • POSTED 9:29 AM
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May 6, 2009

MoJoe TV

Singing James, James, James…

Before there was Felicity or Angela, there was James.

James at 15

No, not that James. Or this one. This one here.

I was too young to watch "James at 15" when it first aired on NBC back in 1977, but I somehow managed to catch the show in repeats on cable years later. I was immediately hooked.

The series starred Lance Kerwin as a sensitive young man coming of age in the "Swingtown" era. Creator Dan Wakefield was almost Norman Lear-like in his determination to tackle tough issues, including teen sex. More importantly, the show wasn't afraid to be honest about growing up: Instead of the shiny happy facade of "Happy Days," this show presented adolescence as the hell it so often is.

"James" lasted just one season (though it changed its name to "James at 16" midway through its run). Like most dramas about teens, including "My So-Called Life" and "Life As We Know It," the series had a tough time finding an audience (something Fox executives have to be quietly nervous about as they prepare to launch the pretty amazing "Glee").

Since "James" isn't currently available on DVD, here's a look at the show's opening credits:

Continue reading Singing James, James, James…

May 5, 2009

Two Cents

Process This, Nielsen

TV types have become shockingly immune to reading the words "Nielsen processing issues" on their Blackberries. It seems the ratings giant finds a reason to delay reporting numbers at least once a week.

But this week's Nielsen blackout—numbers for both Sunday and Monday had not yet been revealed as of late Tuesday; weekly ratings were also held up—has some industry insiders slack-jawed.

"It's outrageous," one veteran number cruncher told me today, throwing in a few four-letter words for good measure.

Inexcusable is the word that came to mind for me.

Networks have typically been reluctant to embrace the idea of funding an alternative ratings system, both because of the high cost associated with such a move and because of fear that a new system might prove that fewer people are watching TV than Nielsen says.

Cost remains a valid concern, but given how low ratings have gotten for many network shows, perhaps a new system—one that better accounted for time-shifting—might actually end up increasing viewer totals.

Continue reading Process This, Nielsen

  • POSTED 11:27 PM
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May 4, 2009

Breaking

The CW: Sundays Are So Yesterday

It's no gossip, girl: The CW is moving out of the Sunday night zip code.

The network is nearing a deal with affiliates to give up programming Sunday night this fall, a spokesman for the network confirmed Monday. Sunday has been the CW's weakest night since it launched; predecessor WB also never had much luck on the evening.

By abandoning Sundays, the CW is opening the doors to syndication companies to begin flooding its affiliates with programming alternatives. The CW currenly airs three hours of primetime programming on Sundays, from 7-10 p.m, and two additional hours from 5-7 p.m.

For more on this story, visit TVWeek.com.

Continue reading The CW: Sundays Are So Yesterday

Best Development Season...EVER!

Ben Silverman at the NBC Infront

NBC Infront: What We Learned

Trying to judge a network's future by its presentation to advertisers is always a risky proposition.

Spin levels are dangerously high. Clips can be misleading (think the end of the pilot for "Yes, Dear," or the entire first episode of "Joey"). And, let's face it: Most new babies appear cuter than they actually are. Unless a network does a disastrous job putting together its presentation, there's a tendency to grade its efforts on something of a curve.

And yet, those of us who get paid to write about TV can't help but issue snap judgements, however incomplete the evidence. Heck, in the age of Twitter, conclusions are drawn and broadcast around the world in real time.

With all those caveats in mind, how did the Peacock do with its infront? After the jump, Five Things We Learned About NBC Today.

Continue reading NBC Infront: What We Learned

  • POSTED 4:14 PM
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Hype!

ABC Viral Campaign No ‘Flash’ in the Pan

ABC’s carefully orchestrated campaign to build buzz around its new drama “Flash Forward” is moving to a new level this week.

Following last week’s 5-second teaser spots, the network will air a new ad during this week’s episode of “Lost,” according to people familiar with the network’s plans. Details are sketchy, but there’s expected to be a twist in which different viewers see different things.

That could mean ABC is planning to air different spots in different time zones. Or the network could get even more specific by tailoring ads to specific cities. NBC and Home Depot, for example, recently launched a campaign in which local stations inserted their own weather personalities into ads for the home improvement giant.

“Flash Forward” hasn’t officially been ordered to series, but given the resources ABC is devoting to marketing the show, the pickup is considered all but a given.

The network’s hype is having an impact. A Google search for “Flash Forward” news stories produces a bevy of hits, including this article from the U.K.’s Digital Spy that calls the series “the most promising proposition” of the new fall season.

Look for more "Flash Forward" spots in the season finales of shows such as "Dancing with the Stars" and "Grey's Anatomy."

Continue reading ABC Viral Campaign No ‘Flash’ in the Pan

Best Development Season...EVER!

Parenthood

Taking the Wraps Off NBC's Slate

NBC is continuing its move toward the middle.

The network Monday greenlit a programming slate heavy on meat-and-potatoes fare, including two medical dramas ("Trauma" and "Mercy"), a broad family hour ("Parenthood") and an old-fashioned multicamera half-hour from director James Burrows ("100 Questions"). Also on NBC's slate: a single-camera comedy starring E! host Joel McHale and Chevy Chase ("Community") and an ambitious "limited" series from "Heroes" alum Jesse Alexander ("Day One") that will be heavily promoted during the Winter Olympics in advance of a March debut.

Continue reading Taking the Wraps Off NBC's Slate

May 3, 2009

Best Development Season...EVER!

NBC Finalizes Pickups as ABC Ponders a 'Ghost'

Lots of drama this weekend as NBC prepares to brief advertisers on its 2009-10 plans Monday.

There was buzz that CBS' "Ghost Whisperer" could be in play, possibly moving to ABC. That's still considered a longshot. Click here for a full report.

Over at NBC, as of late Saturday, odds seemed to heavily favor the network greenlighting the comedies "Community" and "100 Questions" (known in some parts as "100 Questions for Charolotte Payne"), as well as dramas "Parenthood" and "Trauma."

There are also many fans of David E. Kelley's "Legally Mad" inside NBC. Despite its quirky tone -- it features singing lawyers -- some inside the network believe the show represents a chance worth taking, particularly since Mr. Kelley's series traditionally do well among upscale audiences like those NBC is targeting.

The ambitious sci-fi-themed "Day One" is also a contender. If it moves forward, however, it will likely be positioned as a limited series (a k a miniseries).

Continue reading NBC Finalizes Pickups as ABC Ponders a 'Ghost'

May 1, 2009

Etc.

Week One: That's a Wrap

Wrapping up the first week of TV MoJoe on a quiet note. Team TVWeek is busily putting together Monday's print issue. Look for some timely stories about the upfront marketplace.

My latest column also will be in the issue, but you can read it right here, right now.

Meanwhile, in honor of May Day, enjoy this bit of Soviet-era propaganda!

Continue reading Week One: That's a Wrap

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