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BREAKING: ‘Love Bites’ replaced by ‘The Apprentice’

“Love Bites” is off the NBC fall schedule.
Donald-trump

Hourlong romantic comedy
anthology has been pulled from the 10 p.m. Thursday slot because both
Cindy Chupack has asked to be relieved of her showrunner duties, and the
character played by Becky Newton has to be reimagined. In the pilot,
Newton’s character is a virgin but in real life she is pregnant.

To
fill the timeslot, NBC is scheduling Donald Trump’s “The Apprentice.”
Reality series will run 15 hours over 13 weeks, with “Love Bites”
tentatively coming back in January, if not before. Trump’s original “The
Apprentice” hasn’t run since spring 2007.

Production on “Love
Bites,” which has not begun yet, will be pushed back several weeks to
accommodate Chupack’s new status — she’ll remain as a writer — as well
having the network and exec producers determine what to do with both
Newton’s character and how to handle the Jordana Spiro situation. The
actress has left the show because she is contractually obligated to TBS’
half-hour comedy “My Boys,” for which she has starred several years.

Citing
“a few circumstances out of our control,” NBC’s exec VP of current
programming Vernon Sanders said the Peacock “learned from the
‘Parenthood’ experience to take time to get things right” and didn’t
want to rush “Love Bites” on to the fall sked while the production
dilemmas were still in flux.

NBC said Chupack stepping down as
showrunner was the former “Sex and the City” exec producer’s personal
decision. “There was something going on with her privately, but it is
not an illness, and definitely has to do with some personal stress she’s
dealing with.”

In her statement to the press, Chupack stated:
“‘Love Bites’ is incredibly important to me, and it’s been gratifying
that NBC feels the same. Launching an anthology series, which breaks the
form in so many ways, is a huge undertaking, and I strongly feel that I
can be most helpful not showrunning, but writing. … It’s just become
clear that for several reasons, some of them personal, this change (and a
little more time) is what we need to launch this show properly.”

No
new showrunner has been announced as a replacement for Chupack, but
exec producers Marc Buckland and Shelley McCrory worked closely with
Chupack on the pilot and may be asked to carry the load. Eric Fellner
and Tim Bevan are also exec producers.

NBC will keep the
13-episode order for “Love Bites,” and said although the plan for now is
to launch the show in January in the identical 10 p.m. Thursday
timeslot, there is also the possibility the show can launch in November
or soon after if another show in the Peacock lineup isn’t performing and
needs to be replaced.

The change will not affect the debut of the
new season of “Celebrity Apprentice,” which is still skedded for March.

As
for Spiro, while she was originally intended to be a series regular,
she will not be able to remain on the show as she is committed to “My
Boys.” There is the possibility she could return in several episodes in a
guest star role.

Sanders said there are no current plans to
replace Spiro with a different character, or to recast the same
character with a new actress.

One advantage NBC may have in moving “Love Bites” to midseason is that it allows the net to give it a more specialized marketing push. If the skein was launching in fall, as originally planned, it would have to compete with a cavalcade of new shows and could get lost in the shuffle. This way, as the Peacock did with “Parenthood,” “Love Bites” could receive extra TLC from the net in terms of promotion.

“Love Bites,” from Universal Media
Studios and Working Title Television, stars Newton, Greg Grunberg and
Constance Zimmer.

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