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Netflix Rethinks ‘God’s Favorite Idiot’ After Eight Episodes

Melissa McCarthy Ben Falcone
Chelsea Lauren/Variety/REX/Shutterstock

Netflix has brought an early halt to production in Australia of Melissa McCarthy-starring comedy series “God’s Favorite Idiot.” It had shot eight episodes instead of the previously-announced sixteen, which would have taken filming on until November.

Sources close to the production told Variety that Netflix is now planning to shoot the series in two batches of eight episodes. But no date or location was given for the possible production of the second batch.

The show involves a mid-level tech support employee who finds love with a co- worker at exactly the same time that he becomes the unwitting messenger of God. Also, there’s roller skating, a lake of fire and an impending apocalypse.

The show stars McCarthy and real-life husband Ben Falcone. The pair also serve as executive producers via their company On the Day. Michael McDonald, who has frequently collaborated with the pair, will direct and executive produce.

“We’ve wrapped production on eight episodes of ‘God’s Favorite Idiot,’ which will premiere next year. Australia has been so welcoming to all of us and we’re thankful for their hospitality. We’re grateful to our creative partners Ben and Melissa, along with our amazing cast and crew for their hard work and dedication to bring this show to life,” a Netflix spokesman told Variety by email.

“Ben Falcone and Melissa McCarthy said: “We are so sad to leave Australia, as it has truly felt like home to us this past year. We were so lucky to have had the best, hardest working Australian cast and crew. We are so proud of ‘God’s Favorite Idiot’ and cannot wait to share it with everyone.“

Australia is currently buzzing with high-profile international feature films and TV and streaming series. They have been attracted by Australia’s rapid response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which included swift introduction of financial support for the screen production industry, one of the country’s biggest export earners.

In February “God’s Favorite Idiot” had been promised some A$10 million ($7.8 million) through the federal government’s A$540m location incentive program, which allows overseas productions to recoup up to 13.5% of qualifying production expense in Australia. The government claimed at the time that the show would bring A$74 million of benefit to the economy.

But, since the early halt to filming, local politicians have been careful to point out that none of the promised subsidy for “God’s Favorite Idiot” has been paid to Netflix or the production companies.

It is standard practice that location incentives are only paid out after production has finished and expensed claims have been calculated and vetted. That means that the show could still receive some of the promised subsidy.

Australian media reported that the cast were paid for a full 16 weeks, but said that local crew were paid only for work already completed. The unexpected halt may have caused hardship to some crew who are now left without current employment.