London conference focuses on new U.S. shows
Want to know which upcoming new U.S. shows are likely to stick around and which are headed for oblivion?Forecasting showbiz hits is like trying to juggle cats, but that hasn’t stopped international consultant Attention, whose clients include NBC, from sticking its neck out. At a London conference Sept. 3, Zak Shaikh, managing director of the company’s U.S. arm, predicted which of the new fall season shows are likely to succeed — and the show that will be the first to be culled. Attention has developed a methodology for evaluating scripted series based on what factors drive audience engagement. Shaikh works closely with research and development executives, analyzing scripts, treatments, filmed shows and marketing and promotional materials. On the up side, new CBS legal skein “The Defenders,” starring Jim Belushi and Jerry O’Connell, stands a high chance of succeeding, Shaikh says. “There is good odd-couple chemistry between the two leads, and, rare for lawyers, the pair are presented as underdogs, something that audiences are likely to enjoy. The mix of comedy and drama is also effective,” he adds. Another show favored by Attention is Fox comedy “Raising Hope,” created by Greg Garcia (“My Name Is Earl”), in which a 23-year-old man is left to bring up a baby, the result of a one-night stand, after the mother ends up in jail. “It is very funny throughout and highly visual,” Shaikh says. Looking further ahead than the fall, Attention gave the thumbs up to the U.S. adaptation of U.K. blue-collar black comedy, “Shameless,” made by Warner Bros. for Showtime. He reckons that cable auds will have no problem relating to amoral characters like “Shameless’s” Frank Gallagher. Moreover, he believes the show’s “edginess and integrity” is likely to win a loyal following in the U.S. Now for the bad news. J.J. Abrams’ keenly anticipated “Undercovers,” which bows this month on NBC, is unlikely to get auds’ pulses racing, according to Attention. The couple featured in the spy saga, Steven and Samantha Bloom, are “too perfect” for contempo auds, raised on loving but dysfunctional family archetypes like those depicted in “The Simpsons” or “Modern Family.” Two other shows destined to fail, according to Attention, are Fox’s Texas-set soap “Lone Star” and NBC’s conspiracy thriller “The Event,” because the lead character in the first is an unlovable conman and a bigamist, and the sci-fi mystery concept in the second is too high for its own good. As for the first cancellation? Well, that dubious honor will go to Fox laffer “Running Wilde,” blighted by an “unsympathetic protagonist” and “awkward jokes.” Of course, if some of these juggled cats do just fine, you might expect their claws to be reaching for Attention.