Horse trading between studios, nets continues
The network-studio wrangling is spilling into summer.After a pilot season relatively devoid of last-minute standoffs and arm-twisting negotiations, things have gotten a little more hairy in the days since everyone returned from New York. Most recently, CBS and 20th Century Fox TV have reached a stalemate over “Chaos,” the Brett Ratner actioner that is expected to land an order at the Eye. CBS initially gave the show an eight-episode order — which 20th balked at as there’s not much upside (and no chance of international sales picking up a show) at such a small order. CBS then offered a 13-episode pickup (including pilot) at a reduced license fee. That may still be a difficult go for 20th, however, as the studio has already reduced costs on the project, including shooting it in Dallas, where the studio already built the tax incentives into the show’s budget. From the Eye’s perspective, the network doesn’t really need “Chaos,” given that it already has a jam-packed schedule, including the net’s previously announced midseason “Criminal Minds” pickup. What’s more, the humor-laced “Chaos” is a departure for the net, which airs mostly straight-ahead procedurals like the “CSI,” “NCIS” and “Criminal Minds” franchises. If a deal isn’t hammered out for “Chaos,” CBS may decide not to pick up anything else — or may give a short order to the John Wells/Hannah Shakespeare medical drama “Gimme Shelter” from Warner Bros. TV. Meanwhile, CBS is still waiting for Sony Pictures TV to sign off on its 13-episode order for the half-hour laffer “Mad Love.” That show (which Sony co-produces with CBS TV Studios) is undergoing some cast problems, however, and several positions are being refilled, including the roles held in the pilot by Minka Kelly and Lizzy Caplan. The days leading up to the network upfront presentations were remarkably free of tough last-minute negotiating between networks and studios — partly because, in many cases, deals were pre-negotiated, and in many more cases, the networks were picking up series from their studio siblings. The biggest nail-biters of upfront week weren’t network-studio battles, but rather down-to-the-wire negotiations between talent (Charlie Sheen, Dick Wolf) and studios (Warner Bros. TV, Universal Media Studios, respectively). Things have gotten a bit tougher post-upfront. Besides those midseason pickup snags, studios aiming to save orphaned series “Ghost Whisperer” and “The New Adventures of Old Christine” haven’t had much luck doing so, as budgets couldn’t come together to make those deals work — particularly at ABC, the top contender for both shows.
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