Some giddy, others gloomy about fall
As the network upfront presentations drew to an end last week, the bubbly flowed madly in some camps, and wounds were licked in others.
The mood overall coming out of the week was jubilant compared to recent years, as the nets found plenty of reason to celebrate this time out. The top reason: A recovering ad marketplace promises the return of 30-second riches to broadcasters.
Also, the networks are coming off a season where they each uncovered a good-to-strong ratings performer: “Glee” (Fox), “Modern Family” (ABC), “NCIS: Los Angeles” (CBS), “Parenthood” (NBC) and “The Vampire Diaries” (CW).
Here’s a roundup of this season’s upfront winners and losers:
Chuck Lorre and Shonda Rhimes: It’s impressive when any producer has two shows on the air at the same time, but these two are about to join the uber-exclusive threesome club (whose membership includes president Jerry Bruckheimer). Lorre’s CBS entries invade three very different worlds: “Two and a Half Men” is about a bachelor and his family, “The Big Bang Theory” revolves around science geeks, and newbie “Mike and Molly” is about a couple who meet at an Overeaters Anonymous meeting.
As for Rhimes, the producer of returning ABC medical hits “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice” will stay in the genre for the Alphabet’s midseason entry “Off the Map,” about young docs in South America.
McG’s Wonderland Sound and Vision label: McG’s TV division, run by Peter Johnson, had two shows on the bubble that will be returning this fall (NBC’s “Chuck” and Fox’s “Human Target”). And the shingle, which has another returnee in CW vet “Supernatural,” scored a pickup at that net with “Nikita,” which landed a plum Thursday time-slot behind “Vampire Diaries.”
Jamie Tarses The former ABC Entertainment president had disappeared from the public eye for several years after her tumultuous tenure ended at the Alphabet. But now, Tarses has been reborn as an extremely successful producer and landed a slew of shows on broadcast and cable under her FanFare production company.
FX alums: “The Shield” creator Shawn Ryan, who’s behind that cabler’s upcoming “Terriers,” landed a midseason slot at Fox for cop drama “Ride-Along.” Also at Fox, “Nip/Tuck” creator Ryan Murphy watched his show “Glee” turn into the net’s new centerpiece series (including the coveted post-Super Bowl spot next February).
And over at ABC, former “Shield” star Michael Chiklis is back in primetime, this time as the star of ABC’s “No Ordinary Family.”
Texas: The Lone Star state plays a major role both onscreen and off in several new series, starting with Fox sudser “Lonestar,” set against the backdrop of big Texas oil.
“Lonestar” was shot in Texas, as was ABC’s new documentary-style young-adult drama “My Generation” and NBC’s fugitive drama “Chase” (the latest from Bruckheimer).
Canada landed the majority of runaway pilot production this year, but other locales outside L.A. getting production time on fall series (some of which, granted, might now return to Los Angeles) include Atlanta, Chicago, Hawaii, Philadelphia and Rhode Island.
The old guard: Don’t count out 1990s icons Dick Wolf, David E. Kelley or Steven Bochco just yet. Wolf has a new “Law and Order” set in Los Angeles at NBC; Kelley is doing another legal drama, this time back at NBC; and Bochco has a new project in development at TNT. What’s more, 1990s sitcom star Paul Reiser is back with a new comedy at NBC, and “Party of Five” creators Chris Keyser and Amy Lippman are behind Fox’s “Lonestar” — one of the most talked-about new series of upfront week.
“Community” — For fans of the Thursday NBC comedy, CBS’ decision to move “The Big Bang Theory” opposite it stings. Eye execs weren’t looking to kill “Community” — they simply didn’t respect it enough to consider it competition.
But as its first season progressed, “Community” had grown into one of the best laffers in primetime, and it’s a shame that another critics fave, “Big Bang,” may blunt its second-season ratings potential. If “Community” gets crushed, the Peacock may want to shift the show elsewhere, and perhaps try “The Apprentice” in Thursday’s leadoff hour now that “Survivor” is out of the way.
Wanda Sykes: Two weeks ago, Sykes was one of the rare stars with more than one gig at the networks. Now, Fox has canceled her young latenight skein, “The Wanda Sykes Show,” while CBS has axed vet “The New Adventures of Old Christine,” in which she had a regular supporting role.
Sci-fi fans: NBC put “Heroes” out of its misery, CW downgraded “Supernatural” to Friday, and ABC yanked “FlashForward” while putting “V” on the bench until late fall. It’s not all bad, however, as Fox’s much-anticipated Steven Spielberg skein “Terra Nova” is on tap for 2011.
Meanwhile, who had the most confusing week? Perhaps Jennifer Love Hewitt, who began the upfronts as the centerpiece of NBC’s new Thursday night anthology series, “Love Bites.” Hewitt’s segment ran in its entirety at NBC’s presentation to good reviews.
But by the next day, Hewitt had learned that CBS canceled her “Ghost Whisperer” series. And then, by the end of the week, buzz was strong that ABC would pick the show up.
Stay tuned, Jennifer.