Two of the Big Four broadcast networks, ABC and NBC, capped off the TCA summer press tour held at the Beverly Hilton hotel. But unlike Fox and CBS, neither net provided its entertainment division presidents for what are commonly known as executive sessions — basically press conferences in which the executives field questions from journalists.
The omissions were especially jarring in that CBS Entertainment chief Kelly Kahl knuckled down, faced the media and addressed questions about the sexual harassment allegations against his boss, Leslie Moonves, and about the workplace environment at the company.
Other networks and platforms doing executive sessions throughout the tour, which concluded last week, included Showtime, FX, Discovery, Amazon, Netflix, Facebook, HBO, PBS and YouTube.
And although both NBC and ABC reserved a full day on the press tour schedule, they each only presented a partial day of program panels, unlike their broadcast competitors.
Here are some of the programming highlights:
Creator Liz Meriwether promised her new ABC comedy “Single Parents” will be edgy, not surprisingly, as it airs at 9:30 p.m. (beginning Sept. 26). It brings together the disparate parental personalities of Brad Garrett, Leighton Meester, Jake Choi, Kimrie Lewis and Taran Killam in his first post-“SNL” series regular role.
Garrett is apparently the only main cast member who is or has ever been a single parent. “You don’t plan on being a single parent,” he said. “My marriage cut into my wife’s dating. The toughest thing is co-parenting.” Turning more serious, Garrett noted that single parents are thrown into a group they probably wouldn’t socialize with otherwise, but are forced to because of their kids.
“They aren’t necessarily people you would be friends with if you could choose your friends,” Meriwether said.
Speaking of kids, what’s it like to be one of eight boys growing up in an Irish Catholic family in the 1970s? Creator Tim Doyle based “The Kids Are Alright” on his experience being the fifth of eight kids in such a family. Michael Cudlitz and Mary McCormack star as the harried parents of the bunch during a turbulent time in America.
Questioned about the title, which is also the name of the 2010 four-time Oscar-nominated film starring Annette Bening and Julianne Moore and a 1960s song by The Who, Doyle said he had a long list of names but the network made the decision and he was fine with it.
“We wanted to obliterate the memory of those other products,” joked Doyle. “They don’t deserve the public eye.”
Doyle said he purposefully did not watch other — and possibly similar — family comedies like “The Wonder Years” and “Malcolm in the Middle” while developing “The Kids Are Alright.” “I have my own internal mechanism that’s pushing me in a certain direction,” he said.
With the addition of his show to the fall lineup, ABC will now have family comedies set in the 1970s, 1980s (“The Goldbergs”) and 1990s with a “Goldbergs” spinoff starring Tim Meadows.
Actor Nathan Fillion was beloved by many fans for his work on “Castle.” Now he stars in “The Rookie” as a 40-year-old cop trainee donning the uniform of the Los Angeles Police Department. (It’s the first cop show on ABC since “Southland.”)
Apparently the LAPD, unlike most other law enforcement agencies around the country and including federal forces, accepts rookies up to the age of 40. Aside from the rigors of the job, it obviously creates unique challenges for his character.
“He is at a crossroads in his life without knowing how it’s going to work out,” said creator, writer and executive producer Alexi Hawley, who appeared on the panel with Fillion and cast members including Alyssa Diaz, Titus Makin Jr. and Afton Williamson. “We live in a time when people decide to change things. It’s universal. It’s harder in your mid-40s to throw everything aside. Other rookies are in their 20s, so it puts him in an in-between place, as others his age are his superiors. He’s a fish out of water. I think the story is accessible to a huge range of audiences.”
Amy Poehler and Aseem Batra (“Scrubs,” “Uncle Buck,” “Marlon”) bring their comic sensibilities as the executive producers of the NBC single-cam “I Feel Bad,” which stars Paul Adelstein, Sarayu Blue, Brian George and Madhur Jaffrey in what’s billed as a perfectly imperfect family comedy.
Blue’s character is at the center of it, playing a boss, a wife, a mom, a daughter and a friend who knows she’s not perfect but tries to be flawless in all of those arenas.
Batra said she was excited to assemble the writers room for the show. “It wasn’t checking off boxes or mandates, but I finally brought in voices that aren’t always heard, to create an opportunity to make something fresh, from age to sexuality to ethnicity,” she said.
“Brooklyn Nine-Nine” will make a big midseason splash on the Peacock Network, which picked up the cop comedy immediately after Fox dropped it from its prime-time schedule.
Executive producer Dan Goor said the initial cancellation outcry gave the show even more cachet — and new energy — as it heads into a 13-episode sixth season. He appeared on a panel with executive producer Luke Del Tredici and talent including Andy Samberg, Andre Braugher, Stephanie Beatriz, Melissa Fumero and Terry Crews.
Goor joked that the only change would be the show will be funnier, more heartfelt with better guest stars and “longer, shorter, faster.” “The fact of the matter is, the executives we worked with at Fox gave us great notes. We had a lot of creative freedom,” he said. “Similarly, our experiences so far with NBC have been fantastic. It’s a place Andy and I have been a long time, so much of what we have done is with the studio. No matter what network we’ve been on they’ve had our back. It’s not like there was a hardship being elsewhere that is now rectified.”
The euphoria level was brought back to on-the-ground reality when Crews was asked about the aftermath of revealing that he was a victim of sexual harassment, including testifying in June before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
(Full disclosure: I’m the one who questioned him about it.)
“I like to call it the summer of freedom. We can now tell our truth. It was one of the lessons I learned while doing the show. We had an episode on race and police, and it was all about freedom and about being able to tell your story,” Crews said.
“Being here [on ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’] I felt safe and secure enough to tell my truth. Each and every person gave me the strength, along with all of the women who came forward in the #MeToo movement — that’s where I got a ton of my strength from,” he said, noting he’d told the cast about his experience the day before going public with it in a series of tweets.
“For real, this is just the beginning and this is going to be a new day,” Crews predicted. “From now on the town will be safer for my wife, my son and my daughter.”
Goor said they’re exploring doing a #MeToo episode in the upcoming season.
The principals of the popular game show “Deal or No Deal,” which ran for four seasons on NBC and two in syndication, appeared via satellite from Orlando, Fla., to tout the revival, which begins airing on CNBC in December.
“I’ve never been part of such an exciting show,” said EP and host Howie Mandel, who initially joined “Deal” in 2005 after his wife urged him to take the job. “There are tears, hearts are bursting and lives are changing.”
The showrunners of NBC dramas “Midnight, Texas” (Eric Charmelo and Nicole Snyder), “New Amsterdam” (David Schulner), “Manifest” (Jeff Rake) and “This Is Us” (Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger) participated in a panel that touched on the concepts and inspirations behind their shows and the characters on them.
NBC ended its day with a field trip to the Universal Studios set of “Dirty John,” Bravo’s true crime scripted anthology series. It’s based on an L.A. Times investigation of a con artist who targeted a wealthy Orange County divorcee, featuring Connie Britton and Eric Bana in the lead roles.