Thursday, August 27, 2015

Julie Chen Talks Big Brother Strategy

Julie Chen is watching.  For 15 years, she's presided over CBS' Big Brother -- and this past June, on the eve of the debut of the show's 17th season, I sat down with Julie to get

Difficult People to Return

Although the summer season is getting ever-busier, with even broadcast networks debuting new limited-run dramas (CBS' Zoo, ABC's Astronaut Wives' Club, NBC's Aquarius, etc.) for each of the past few years.

For comedy, though, with the exception of this year's two NBC sitcoms Mr. Robinson and The Jerrod Carmichael Show, the only place to go is cable, for offerings like two of my faves this year, Comedy Central's Another Period, and the return of USA's Playing House.

And then there's my favorite new comedy of all, Hulu's Difficult People.  At the TV Critics' convention last month, I asked the show's creator/executive producer Julie Klausner and her co-star Billy Eichner if the show, with its gay man/straight woman duo, might be the new Will & Grace.  It turns out, that's kind of how they originally pitched the show -- with self-deprecating qualifications about how they're less attractive.

That day at TCA, though, Julie and Billy did distance themselves a bit from the 1998-2006 classic NBC sitcom -- because these days, it's so out of fashion to be compared to, God forbid, a multi-camera comedy.  But I do see the connection, and it's a positive one.  If you liked Will & Grace, you'll love Difficult People, which has similarly witty one-liners that will have you laughing out loud.  The show has garnered criticism that its lead characters are "unlikeable" -- but really, I see it as if not Will Truman and Grace Adler but instead their wackier sidekicks, Jack McFarland and Karen Walker, were unleashed on New York.  And even when Karen was upbraiding a waiter or picking on Grace's outfit, I always found her not only likeable, but loveable.

So invest some time in these Difficult People -- particularly because, as we found out today, the show will be returning for a ten-episode second season.  (And check out Julie's hilarious quote in the official NBC Universal press release below.)

Hit Amy Poehler-produced Comedy Starring Julie Klausner and Billy Eichner from Universal Cable Productions will return for Second Season on Hulu 

SANTA MONICA, CA – August 27, 2015 – Hulu Original Difficult People has been picked up for a second season, the company announced today. Season two will include a 10-episode order.  Following a critically acclaimed debut, the breakout comedy series from executive producers Amy Poehler (Parks & Recreation), Dave Becky (Louie), Tony Hernandez of Jax Media and showrunner Scott King will return for a second season with creator, star and executive producer Julie Klausner and star Billy Eichner. The series is produced by Universal Cable Productions (UCP), a division of NBCUniversal.  

“We have been big fans of Difficult People from day one and are so happy to have Julie and Billy be part of the Hulu family. I cannot wait to see what a whole new season will bring and am pleased to bring more of their hilarious brand of comedy to fans,” said Craig Erwich, SVP, Head of Content, Hulu. 

"From our first meeting with Julie, Billy and Amy, to the spec pilot we shot with them, to Hulu's spectacular and ongoing commitment, this has been a dream of a show.  And I'm not just saying that because I'm afraid of them," said Jeff Wachtel, President, Universal Cable Productions and Chief Content Officer, NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment.   

Difficult People hails from Julie Klausner (Billy on the Street) who stars alongside Emmy®-nominated Billy on the Street host Billy Eichner. As best friends living in New York City, their typical, irreverent behavior lands them in some very awkward situations. Klausner and King wrote all episodes of season one and will continue to serve as executive producers for the series. 

"I'm the luckiest girl in the world to be able to make more episodes of Difficult People,” said Klausner. “This must be what it feels like to win the lottery, have a fast metabolism or win an Oscar for My Cousin Vinny." 

The second season of Difficult People comes to Hulu in collaboration with Universal Cable Productions. Amy Poehler’s Paper Kite Productions in conjunction with Dave Becky’s 3 Arts Entertainment and Jax Media will continue to produce the series.  

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Supergirl and the Four-Timers' Club

It's Supergirl!
Coming soon to CBS
So much has been made in seasons past of mega-successful TV producers who juggle multiple shows on the air, and all the moving parts that must entail.  The feat is made all the more impressive when you note how producers like Dick Wolf and Shonda Rhimes preside over programs that also happen to be among the best in their genres.

Super-successful Shonda Rhimes
Next season, both producers will probably keep their records in tact, with four definite shows for Wolf (granddaddy Law & Order:  SVU plus Chicago Fire and its now two spinoffs, Chicago P.D. and the new Chicago Medical) and probably four for Rhimes (the grandmommy Grey's Anatomy, plus mega-hot Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder and ABC's likely pickup of a new drama, The Catch.)
Prolific producer Dick Wolf

But while those producers have sold their wares all to one network (Wolf at NBC, Rhimes at ABC, and, let's not forget that before this season's finale of Two and a Half Men, Chuck Lorre had four shows at CBS), undoubtedly leveraging one's popularity to gain pickup for another, yet another megasuccessful producer has emerged, with shows all over the broadcast dial.

Four-timer (and counting) Greg Berlanti
As of Fall 2015, Greg Berlanti will also have at least four shows on the air, with the CW's Arrow and The Flash, NBC's recently picked up suspenser Blindspot, and now CBS' announcement that it has picked up Supergirl to series.  Will NBC break the tie by maintaining a fifth Berlanti series on its airwaves, the on-the-bubble Mysteries of Laura, next season?  We'll find out this coming Monday, May 11, when all things peacock will be revealed.

In the meanwhile, news is just coming out today about Supergirl as CBS' first new series pickup.  That the story broke today is already an impressive feat, considering how secretive CBS normally is about its upfront news; in fact, journalists have nicknamed the secrecy surrounding the network's last-minute programming war room each May "Les Moonves' Cone of Silence."  But with a producer like Berlanti who has clout, he can ask for an early deadline for the decision.

Supergirl stars Melissa Benoist in the title role of Kara Danvers/Kara Zor-El, cousin of Superman; the show's pilot, written by Berlanti, Ali Adler and Andrew Kreisberg, starts with Kara at age 24, deciding to embrace her superhuman abilities and becoming a hero.  The impressive cast also contains Calista Flockhart, as Kara's tough boss, Cat Grant; Mehcad Brooks as love interest Jimmy Olsen; Chyler Leigh as Kara's doctor sister, Alex Danvers; David Harewood as supervillain Hank Henshaw aka Cyborg Superman; and Laura Benanti in a recurring role as Kara's birth mother, Alura Zor-El.  All that, plus the news that broke a few months back that this adaptation will bring back some faces familiar to Superman fans, with Helen Slater (big-screen Supergirl) and Dean Cain (Lois & Clark:  The New Adventures of Superman) cast in "secret roles."

No word yet from CBS as to whether the show will debut in Fall 2015, or "midseason" (even though CBS President Nina Tassler has officially banished that word), or in what time slot.  That news will come on Wednesday, May 13, as CBS rolls out its upfront presentation at New York's Carnegie Hall.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Ed Sheeran tonight on Undateable LIVE

Well at least one of the cats is out of the bag, whether NBC wanted it that way or not.  (And it's a good one!)

As he announced today on Twitter, Ed Sheeran is among the high-wattage guests joining tonight's live episode of Undateable.  The Detroit-set sitcom is a great show you may not yet be watching -- so check it out tonight, live from 9-10 PM Eastern and Pacific.

randomly, i'm gonna be on tonight for my dude , should be fun, tune in. lots of fun to be had

Monday, May 4, 2015

In tribute to Ellen Albertini Dow, 1913-2015

Ellen Albertini Dow, then 85, performs
The Sugarhill Gang's "Rapper's Delight"
in the 1998 film The Wedding Singer
In the spring of 2006, as I was researching my book on The Golden Girls, I was lucky to get the chance to have lunch with Ellen Albertini Dow, a frequent guest star on the show but perhaps best known to the world as the "Rapping Granny" in Adam Sandler's 1998 film The Wedding Singer.

Ellen, who died earlier today at age 101, had an extraordinary life, from her beginnings as the daughter of immigrant Italian parents in Mt. Carmel, PA, through her Ivy League education at Cornell University, her long and loving marriage to fellow actor Eugene Dow, an early vocation in New York and Los Angeles as an esteemed acting teacher, and finally, beginning only in her 70s, a successful career in TV and film.

At 92, Ellen drove herself that day in her zippy little car to Cable's Restaurant in Woodland Hills, where she was clearly a regular presence and favorite customer.  We talked about The Golden Girls and so much more, and she shared with me the behind-the-scenes story of just how she came to perform the Wedding rap for which she'll always be beloved.

My husband Gene went with me to the auditions for The Wedding Singer, way up in Chatsworth, on a beautiful, sunny day.  I had already done Sister Act 1 and 2, and I study and read music.  Gene and I had prepared the song "'Til There Was You," and so when they asked me to sing I was ready.  I sang it without accompaniment, and they loved it.  They said, "We have to have you come back tomorrow and read with Adam Sandler."
Adam and the director Frank Coraci had gone to NYU together, and they were like two teenagers when they were together, laughing and cutting up.  They were funny, but actually they annoyed me when I was first there, because I was trying to concentrate on my song.  For a while at first, we would rehearse scenes, and I would always just be singing "'Til There Was You."  But then, one day, they said "We have an idea."
They hadn't thought of it at the beginning, but now they started wondering if it would be funny to have an older woman perform a rap song.  Well, I had never heard of rap!  I had no idea what it was.  I'm not sure, but I think I remember they gave me a cassette tape beforehand of this song, and set up a date to go to a sound studio on Santa Monica Boulevard to record it.  Well, thank God for Sister Act, and for Marc Shaiman, whom I adore,  because now I had experience in the sound booth.  
There I was with the headphones on, and they start playing "the hip, hip a hop, and you don't stop, a rock it."  Frank and Adam were there, going over it with me.  Well, rhythm isn't something that bothers me, because I've danced all my life.  So I asked the guys, "May I move to it?"  And once I got started, they couldn't believe it.  My husband was up in the booth, and he told me later they came over to him and said, "Can you believe this?  She's getting it right!"  My husband knew I would, and just acted really cool about it.    The next day, we did a table read of the script, and I hadn't realized that I'd amazed them.  But Adam Sandler announced to everyone, "Ellen got it!"  I remember everyone laughing and applauding.
When we shot the scene, I didn't want to lip synch.  So I performed the whole song again, even though I'd already recorded it.  There was something about these people, and about Adam who was so very very nice to me, that made me feel comfortable.  So even though this was a whole new thing for me, I asked them if I could do some little movements I'd worked out to go with certain lyrics.  And it just worked.
"Rapper's Delight" was so different for me, and I still don't know any other song of rap, or know anything about any other rapper.  But the song has stayed with me.  "And I'd like to say hello, to the black, the white, the red and the brown, the purple and yellow."  I still sing it often, if I need a little lift.

-- Ellen Albertini Dow, March 15, 2006 

Live and "Undateable," Tuesday night on NBC

The cast of Undateable, l-r:
 Ron Funches, Rick Glassman, Bridgit Mendler,
Brent Morin, Chris D'Elia, David Fynn, Bianca Kajlich
If you haven't yet caught on to Undateable, NBC's hip revitalization of the classic multi-camera sitcom, Tuesday, May 5 is your night.

The show's executive producer Bill Lawrence has long been an impresario when it comes to promoting his shows -- this is the guy who took his Cougar Town cast to bars across the USA, and his Undateable actors, most of whom are stand-ups, on a nationwide tour of comedy clubs.

Lawrence and the latter show's creator Adam Sztykiel have bent the sitcom form on-screen as well, allowing their Undateable actors to improv lines and physical bits, many of which end up in the episodes' final cuts.

Now, the innovations continue, as Undateable joins only a handful of sitcoms to broadcast live; the show is now in illustrious company, with such greats as 30 Rock, Will & Grace and Hot in Cleveland. (In a format similar to 30 Rock or W&G's live broadcasts, Undateable will air live at 9PM, in two separate versions for the East and West coasts.)

But Undateable's live episode is noteworthy in one other respect:  the show will be an hour long and therefore, as Lawrence and Sztykiel promise, full of surprises and special guests.

Undateable creator Adam Sztykiel (r)
with stars Ron Funches and Rick Glassman
Joining series regulars Brent Morin (Justin), Chris D'Elia (Danny), Bianca Kajlich (Leslie), Rick Glassman (Bursky), Ron Funches (Shelly), David Fynn (Brett) and Bridgit Mendler (Candace) will be a troupe of Lawrence loyalists -- such as his wife and Cougar Town star Christa Miller and Scrubs stars Zach Braff and Donald Faison --as well as Kate Walsh, Victoria Justice and even Dr. Drew Pinsky.  And then, mixing into this super-sized musical episode set during a musical competition in Detroit's Black Eyes Bar, there will be at least one surprise guest whom the network will tease only as a "super-popular Grammy Award-nominated musician."

Lawrence describes the live episode as "half scripted sitcom, half variety show." Though he compliments earlier shows on their own live installments, he notes that "this will not feel in the same vein as theirs did."

Undateable's regular tapings already have an anything-can-happen feel, he explains, with actors going off on long, unscripted tangents or even calling out audience members who think they can better perform a given bit.  The show's May 5 episode will have more of the same craziness.  "NBC, and [its president] Bob Greenblatt love live television -- they did The Sound of Music and Peter Pan.  And they love this cast.  But what they don't realize is, these are all people who take great pleasure in making each other fuck up.  When you critics aren't here, Chris D'Elia is taunting Brent, 'I'm going to make you laugh, make you forget your lines, and make you look like an idiot.'  So this is going to be torture, but I'm very excited about it."

Undateable EP Bill Lawrence
For Tuesday's episode, NBC has been wise to add a 6- to 8-second tape delay to the broadcast, to accommodate a cast quite fond of four-letter words.  But other than that concern, the network seems quite on board with the broadcast -- and by extension, all of Undateable, which after One Big Happy's season finale last week now stands as the sole comedy on NBC.  Both shows await news of their renewal or cancellation, which will be delivered at NBC's upfront presentation on May 11.  If the news coming out of New York's Radio City Music Hall that day is good, it'll be partially due to Lawrence and Sztykiel's careful cultivation of their audience, which they see as a necessity for comedies to survive on network TV these days.

"I don't know what to do to get noticed anymore," Lawrence says, "but I certainly do like trying to push the envelope [in promoting the shows]."  With Undateable's live episode, "people will either dig it, or think that it's insane.  But if I'm going to roll the dice with these clowns," he adds, gesturing towards his cast spread around the room, "I'd rather take a big shot than just do what people have done before."

Live episode Tuesday, May 5
9PM Eastern and Pacific

Monday, February 23, 2015

Life Goes On on Home & Family

Check out the latest reunion of a beloved TV clan:  on today's episode of The Hallmark Channel's fun, informal talk show Home & Family, it's the cast of Life Goes On, the groundbreaking 1989-93 ABC drama centered on the Thacher family, and particularly on their son Corky, living with Down Syndrome.

Life Goes On stars, L-R:
Kellie Martin, Chris Burke, Patti LuPone
For their interview on today's show, the actor who played Corky, Chris Burke, is reunited with his TV mother and sister Patti LuPone and Kellie Martin.  LuPone gets teary after not having seen Burke for years.  But for Burke and Martin this is not so much a reunion; because Chris currently lives in New York, where he works for the National Down Syndrome Society, he has been spending this visit to L.A. staying with Martin and her family.

If like me, you're a fan of the show, you'll love this reunion, with Chris revealing the process by which he won the role, Kellie pulling out an old pair of Becca's very '80s glasses, and the whole cast attempting a singalong of the show's theme song, The Beatles' "Ob-La-Di" -- but not quite remembering the words.

And for good measure, there's another classic TV star, Happy Days' Henry Winkler, on today's show as well, charming and funny as he discusses his series of Here's Hank books, wherein the hero, like Henry himself, has dyslexia.

On today's Home & Family, L-R:
Matt Iseman, Henry Winkler, Brooke Burns
Mark Steines, Patti LuPone, Kellie Martin, Chris Burke
Later in the show, there's a fun segment where Home & Family hosts Mark Steines, Matt Iseman and Brooke Burns (subbing for the vacationing Cristina Ferrare) play a game based on Happy Days trivia.  I won't tell you who wins -- but let's just say that, while Mr. Winkler makes sure to tell Patti LuPone early on how much he loved her in Evita, it soon becomes clear that Patti was too busy on Broadway in the '70s and '80s to have watched much TV.

"I watched you..." the former Fonz tells her, feigning insult.

Home & Family
The Hallmark Channel
Today, Monday Feb 23
10 AM Eastern / 9 AM Central

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Home & Family Hosts the Amazing Race

Home & Family hosts Mark Steines and Matt Iseman
with The Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan
Seven years ago this spring, I was lucky enough to be able to accompany the cast and crew of The Amazing Race 13 on the show's first leg, to the beautiful city of Salvador, Brazil.  That first night, as the cast members spent a miserable night in mosquito tents in a muddy jungle, I was even luckier, in that I had a great meal with the show's executive producer Bertram van Munster, and went back to my fluffy hotel bed in the city's Rio Vermelho section.

Writing that story was one of my favorite experiences of my career, not just for the free travel but also because I got to witness the truly amazing machinery of The Amazing Race in action.  The amount of pre-planning and coordination required to produce the show is truly dizzying, and yet season after season, the show stays compelling and fresh -- particularly now with the twist it delivers with its 26th edition, which will air its special 90-minute season premiere next Wednesday, February 25 on CBS.  (9:30 PM Eastern / 8:30 Central)

L-R, Home & Family hosts Mark Steines and Matt Iseman
with Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan and contestants
Laura Pierson, Tyler Adams, Jenny Wu and Jelani Roy
In the new season, many contestants are paired "blind date" style, with partners they've never met.  This morning, on the Hallmark Channel's talk show Home & Family, Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan and four such blindly-matched contestants, Laura Pierson, Tyler Adams, Jenny Wu and Jelani Roy, recounted for hosts Mark Steines and Matt Iseman their Race experiences, from the casting process through that moment when the starting gun was fired and beyond.  It looks like another great season, and my DVR is all set for this coming Wednesday.

Check out the clip below of this morning's Home & Family segment:

Home & Family
Airs Weekdays 10AM/ 9AM Central
The Hallmark Channel

The Amazing Race 26
Premieres Wednesday, February 26 at 9:30 PM Eastern / 8:30 PM Central

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Talk to the Last Man on Earth

During last night's episode of Empire, Fox promoted its upcoming comedy The Last Man On Earth -- but the network isn't relying on just the old-fashioned way to bring eyeballs to Will Forte's new show.

Fox has gone far beyond just on-air promos, and has posted flyers in major American cities with "Phil Miller"'s Tucson-area phone number.  The phone number went live this past Monday, Feb. 9, and will be active through Sunday, March 1.  So try giving Phil a call -- and you just may end up talking live with Will Forte himself.

Today, the network announced a second fun promo for LA-area residents, the Last Man on Earth "Twitter vending machine."  From Feb. 16 thru 20, take a photo of yourself with the vending machine at the Hollywood & Highland shopping complex, tweet a photo using the #LastStuffonEarth hashtag, and you'll get a DM with a code that will win you a prize, including a possible $250 American Airlines gift certificate.

You can check out the show when it premieres on Fox on Sunday, March 1, with back-to-back episodes at 9PM Eastern/8PM Central.  

Below, the press release from Fox with full details of both promotions.  Have fun!

What/How:    After fans follow @LastManFOX, they will take a picture at THE LAST MAN ON EARTH TWITTER VENDING MACHINE in Los Angeles, Tweet using #LastStuffOnEarth and they will receive a Direct Message with a code that can be used at the vending machine to redeem their prize!
Items may include: Fans have the possibility of receiving a $250 American Airlines gift card, Twinkies, Slim Jims, Raisins, Flashlights, Sweat Bands, First Aid Kits and Tennis Balls.
Where:    Hollywood and Highland Center (Between Sephora and Oakley/Forever 21)
6801 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
When:    February 16 – February 20,  11:30 AM – 7:30 PM daily
FEB. 9 - MARCH 1 – Flyers will be posted around the Los Angeles area.  When viewers call the number that is on the flyer, they will hear a message from THE LAST MAN ON EARTH’S Will Forte in character as Phil Miller.  There is also a chance when a fan/viewer calls they will actually get to speak with Will!   


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Catch me tonight on "The Story Behind: Will & Grace"

In 2003, I got an offer I couldn't refuse, to write the official companion book to NBC's groundbreaking sitcom Will & Grace.  Already obsessed with the show, I felt like Jack McFarland, when he was hired by his idol Kevin Bacon.

Tonight at 9PM Eastern/8 Central on Pop TV (formerly the TV Guide Network), catch me in The Story Behind:  Will & Grace, wherein I was honored to join members of the show's cast and crew to tell some fun behind-the-scenes tales.

For more info, including to find Pop TV on your cable/satellite system, go to

Below, a sneak peek at tonight's episode:

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

What Would Mary Ann Do?

This past weekend, I was excited to have the opportunity to interview Dawn Wells -- aka Mary Ann from Gilligan's Island -- about her role on the classic comedy, and her new book What Would Mary Ann Do? A Guide to Life.  For nearly an hour on stage at the Santa Monica Public Library in California, Dawn and I spoke about her life, her career, and the pieces of wisdom she's picked up along the way.

For a big Gilligan fan like me, the afternoon was a dream come true, and Dawn did not disappoint, speaking to the crowd with wit and charm -- and looking gorgeous.  Gilligan's Island just celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in September -- and if you do the math, that makes Dawn now an incredibly youthful 76 (!)  One of just two surviving cast members (the other being Tina Louise, aka Ginger), Dawn reminisced about her now-departed co-stars, and told some fun tales from behind the scenes.  You can check it out in the video below.  Enjoy!


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

RIP Mrs. Wolowitz

Carol Ann Susi, 1952-2014
I was so sad this afternoon to hear about the death at age 62 
of Carol Ann Susi, the actress who voiced the unseen character of Howard Wolowitz (Simon Helberg)'s harridan mom on The Big Bang Theory.  I've long been a fan of Carol Ann's, and was thrilled a few years back when I got the chance to interview her for a CBS Watch! magazine story about the secretaries of Murphy Brown.

With a long resume in both TV and film, Carol Ann was one of those character actresses with such perfect comic timing, you knew the moment you spotted her in something you'd be in for a laugh.  She was Michael J. Fox's secretary Jean in The Secret to My Succe$s, and a psychiatric patient in Death Becomes Her.  She made her TV debut with three episodes of Kolchak:  The Night Stalker in 1974, and never stopped working since, popping up in all my favorite comedies of the last few decades.  I still laugh out loud when I think back to her hilarious appearance as Maya's (Laura San Giacomo) crazy neighbor Mrs. Boukidis on a 1998 episode of Just Shoot Me.

I had the pleasure of running into Carol Ann quite a few times since my move to LA last fall, including just a few months ago, immediately following a live taping of Big Bang on the Warner Brothers lot.  Her death comes as a shock to all of us who loved her work, including her millions of Big Bang devotees around the world.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Meet The McCarthys

Growing up in a suburb of Boston, Brian Gallivan committed a huge sin in the eyes of his sports-crazed, Irish-Catholic family.  It wasn't that he is gay; it’s that he knows nothing about basketball.

In fact, says Tyler Ritter, who plays Gallivan’s alter-ego Ronny on his new CBS sitcom The McCarthys, “The fact that my character is gay isn’t even a driving characteristic.  Our characters are all different but loveable, and the show is about how we learn to get along.”

“The McCarthys is a good combination of traditional family comedy and progressive, edgier stuff,” says former New Kid on the Block Joey McIntyre, who along with Jimmy Dunn and Kelen Coleman were cast as Ronny’s three siblings.  Jack McGee, who plays high school basketball coach and McCarthy patriarch Arthur, speaks from experience when he states that “a lot of Irish families don’t know how to talk to each other – they talk at each other, and it comes out unfiltered.”

It’s that kind of political incorrectness that makes for good comedy, Gallivan says – even if his own real-life family may sometimes bristle at the depiction.  Gallivan’s own clan is bigger – he’s one of six – and of course his own mother isn’t TV royalty as is Mrs. McCarthy, aka Laurie Metcalf.  “But the show is peppered with details from real life.  And so, my family can’t wait to see it,” he explains.  “But then again, every time I go home, they all say, ‘Don’t say anything to him – it’ll end up in an episode!’”

The McCarthys
Thursdays at 9:30PM
beginning October 30

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

NBC Wants More "Laura"

This morning, NBC announced the first full-season pickup from among its new fall series.  Debra Messing's The Mysteries of Laura has been scoring in the ratings since its debut on September 17, and has helped the network build a female-centric night of crimefighting and action, leading into Mariska Hargitay's veteran Law & Order: SVU and Sophia Bush in Chicago Fire.  See announcement from NBC below.


Debra Messing Starrer Improves 8 P.M. Wednesday Timeslot by 58% Vs. Last Season

UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. — Oct. 28, 2014 — NBC has given a full-season 22-episode order to its 8 p.m. Wednesday drama “The Mysteries of Laura.”

Emmy Award winner Debra Messing stars as NYPD homicide Det. Laura Diamond, who manages to balance her time between being a police officer and that of a harried mom with two unruly young boys.

“Debra has effortlessly infused Laura with a relatability that is captivating audiences,” said Jennifer Salke, President, NBC Entertainment. “We can’t wait to see how Laura will continue to evolve throughout the entire season.”

Through its first six telecasts, “The Mysteries of Laura” has averaged a 1.8 rating, 6 share in adults 18-49 and 10.4 million viewers overall in “most current” figures from Nielsen Media Research. In “live plus same day” results, “The Mysteries of Laura” has improved the Wednesday 8-9 p.m. ET/PT hour by +58% or 3.3 million persons versus NBC’s results in the hour one year earlier.

“The Mysteries of Laura” is the only new drama on the Big 4 networks so far this season to remain with 0.2 of a rating point in 18-49 of its regular-slot debut through its next four telecasts in L+SD results.

The series also stars Josh Lucas, Laz Alonso, Janina Gavankar and Max Jenkins.

Writer Jeff Rake (“Boston Legal”) and director McG (“Supernatural”) serve as executive producers with Greg Berlanti (“Brothers & Sisters”), Aaron Kaplan (“The Neighbors”), Todd Lituchy and Sarah Schechter. “The Mysteries of Laura” is a production of Warner Bros. Television, Berlanti Productions and Kapital Entertainment.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

CW Announces Full Season Orders for "The Flash" and "Jane the Virgin"

Just a few weeks into the new fall season, it appears as if the CW Network may have two brand-new hits on its hands.  Both The Flash and Jane the Virgin have earned decent ratings and critics' approval, and so this morning, the network announced full-season renewals for each.  The press release is below.

October 21, 2014 (Burbank, CA) — The CW has given full season orders to its two hit freshman series, THE FLASH and JANE THE VIRGIN, it was announced today by Mark Pedowitz, President, The CW.
THE FLASH debuted as the most-watched series premiere ever on The CW, scoring 6.1 million viewers in Live + 3 Day Nielsen ratings, and was the network's highest-rated series premiere among adults 18-49 in more than five years, since THE VAMPIRE DIARIES debuted in 2009.
The most critically acclaimed new series of the season, JANE THE VIRGIN, bowed with The CW's most-watched and highest-rated show in its time period in two years. TV Guide called JANE THE VIRGIN the "#1 Must-See" new show of the season, and named star Gina Rodriguez the "most inspiring young actress on TV today." Tim Goodman of the Hollywood Reporter said JANE was "by far the best network pilot –drama or comedy" this season.
"We have had a fantastic start to our season this year, with THE FLASH launching as our most-watched series premiere ever, and JANE THE VIRGIN recognized as the best new show this season by critics across the country," said Pedowitz. "Over the past three seasons, we have made it our mission to grow and to broaden out our audience, and to keep raising the bar with the quality and impact of our new shows, and THE FLASH and JANE have both exceeded our expectations on all counts. I'm thrilled to announce full season orders for both of these terrific new series."  
THE FLASH is produced by Bonanza Productions Inc. in association with Berlanti Productions and Warner Bros. Television, with executive producers Greg Berlanti ("Arrow," "Everwood"), Andrew Kreisberg ("Arrow," "Eli Stone"), David Nutter ("Arrow," "Game of Thrones") and Sarah Schechter.  This series is based upon characters published by DC Entertainment.
JANE THE VIRGIN is produced by CBS Television Studios and Warner Bros. Television, in association with Electus, with executive producers Jennie Snyder Urman ("Emily Owens, M.D."), Ben Silverman ("The Biggest Loser"), Gary Pearl ("10.5: Apocalypse") and Jorge Granier ("Que el Cielo Me Explique").

Friday, October 17, 2014

More Grist for The Millers

When Sean Hayes got the call from TV legend James Burrows about joining The Millers, “it was probably the easiest ‘yes’ I’ve ever said,” the actor recalls.  Already a fan of the Thursday night sitcom, Hayes relished the chance to reteam with his former Will & Grace director  Burrows (and former W&G  guest star Beau Bridges; papa Tom Miller was once Jack McFarland's dad, too)  and to join friend Will Arnett on screen. 

This season, Hayes’ character Kip becomes Miller matriarch Carol’s new friend – and thus a nascent rival for her son Nathan.  “It’s been really fun turning our friendship into an adversarial relationship,” Arnett says.

“Just the thought of Sean and Margo Martindale as BFFs makes me smile,” adds Millers creator Greg Garcia.  “We’re only getting started, and writing this season’s stories has been a blast.”

The Millers
Returns Monday, October 20
8:30 PM EST

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Follow "Stalker"

It’s a dance,” Maggie Q says of her character Lieutenant Beth Davis’ work on CBS’ new crime thriller Stalker.  Stocked with the nail-biting suspense for which its creator Kevin Williamson (Scream, The Vampire Diaries) is famous, Stalker depicts the duties of the LAPD’s Threat Assessment Unit, as they work to save the targets of obsessive criminals before the worst might happen.

But the job is tricky, the former Nikita star explains, because as no-nonsense unit commander Davis has learned first-hand as a victim, “stalking is one of those subject areas we don’t know a lot about. We know there’s a high correlation with mental illness, but it’s hard to predict which lines get crossed, and when, and why.” 

Her co-star, HostagesDylan McDermott, reveals that years ago he himself used to get threatening letters from prisoners.  “But the problem is, the threat has to become real. Someone can follow you all day long. But the law can’t really prosecute until he or she does something that physically harms you.”

That’s an ironic loophole for McDermott’s character, Detective Jack Larsen, who has transferred from New York partly to pursue his estranged wife.  As he settles in among fellow detectives Ben Caldwell (Victor Rasuk) and Janice Lawrence (Mariana Klaveno), the usually confident Larsen will have to demonstrate dedication to the cause, all while keeping his own personal passions at bay.  As McDermott explains, “that’s a twist I found really interesting.”

Wednesdays at 10PM
beginning October 1

Monday, September 22, 2014

NCIS returns to the Big Easy

After the high ratings and excited fan feedback NCIS scored after airing its two-episode arc set in New Orleans last spring, it was clear we had not seen the last of Special Agent Dwayne Pride, aka “King” (Scott Bakula), or his unorthodox ways in policing the Big Easy.

“King just loves this town so much, every aspect of it,” says Bakula, star of the new NCIS: New Orleans, in explaining what drew him to the character. “The real character he’s based on, Dwayne Swear, says ‘I don't care how we get it done.  I just want to work with the people. I’ll help them, they’ll help me, and we get it done.’”  As Bakula explains, King leads his team, which includes Special Agents Christopher LaSalle (Lucas Black) and Meredith “Merri” Brody (Zoe McLellan) and is aided by Jefferson Parish Coronor Dr. Loretta Wade (the venerable CCH Pounder) with an ethos typical of the laid-back city. “We don’t worry about rules, but we take care of business.’”

As New Orleans showrunner and captain of the NCIS flagship Gary Glasberg explains, King is very different from Mark Harmon’s NCIS leader Jethro Gibbs, as he’s “much more outspoken and emotional, reflecting the different rhythm and energy in that part of the country.”  Glasberg remembers that in conceiving the spinoff series, he was excited to discover that New Orleans has a real-life NCIS office, due to the significant military presence along the Gulf of Mexico.  “There’s so much color and vibrancy in this city, so it made sense to take some extraordinary characters and tie it all together.”

NCIS: New Orleans
Tuesdays at 9PM
beginning September 23

Enter "Scorpion"

When writer Nick Santora first heard about real-life genius Walter O’Brien and his think-tank company, Scorpion Computer Services, he immediately saw the potential for action.

His resulting show for CBS, Scorpion, casts Elyes Gabel as O’Brien, whose IQ is ranked the world’s fourth-highest, and surrounds him with other brilliant specialists in mechanics, statistics and behavior analysis.  As the brainy new team, guarded by federal agent Cobe Gallo (Robert Patrick), works each week to defend the U.S. against the high-tech threats of the modern age, Scorpion will be “a little bit of X-Men, a little bit A-Team,” Santora promises.  And with producers like Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (The Amazing Spider-Man 3) and director Justin Lin (The Fast and the Furious) behind the scenes, Scorpion will boast feature-level special effects that literally jolt these geniuses with a Big Bang.

Katharine McPhee, who plays the waitress mother of an autistic young boy whose gifted intelligence O’Brien discovers, says she was “enthralled by all the stories the real Walter was telling us on the set.  This show brings us into some real, top-secret areas we don’t necessarily know about.”

Scorpion, Santora adds, combines adventure with the dramatic, interpersonal workings of a group of outsiders striving to fit in.  “There will be self-doubt and self-discovery, because so many of these guys are insecure,” the writer explains.  “We’re going to see how being a genius can be tough.  Because when you’re 1 in 1.47 billion, that can be a lonely feeling.”

Mondays at 9PM
beginning September 22

Friday, September 19, 2014

Meet Madam Secretary

When Téa Leoni first read the pilot script for Madam Secretary, from renowned show creator Barbara Hall (Joan of Arcadia), “I knew right away who this woman was going to be.” In contemplating taking on her first regular dramatic series, Leoni admits that three role models immediately came to mind: Hillary Clinton, Madeleine Albright, and Condoleezza Rice.  So as an actress, “I’m in a great position, where I can steal from those women, and the show can imagine more.”

To that point, Leoni explains that Madam Secretary will show not only the high-stakes working world of brand-new Secretary of State Elizabeth McCord -- amid an administration boasting Keith Carradine as the president, and Emmy winner Zeljko Ivanek, multiple Emmy/Tony winner Bebe Neuwirth and Tony winner Patina Miller among his staff -- but the other half of her life as well, with husband Henry (Tim Daly) and two kids.

The highly-sought actress reveals she was already a big fan of the similarly multi-faceted The Good Wife (and indeed CBS' President Nina Tassler and the network's scheduling guru Kelly Kahl both joke that Madam Secretary is perfectly positioned among its new Sunday night neighbors, because "the show looks like what would happen if 60 Minutes and The Good Wife had a baby.")  With Julianna Margulies’ Alicia Florrick now following Leoni's Elizabeth McCord, the 48-year-old actress is excited that “we have strong, complex and dynamic women on television.”  So while in real life, Leoni hopes that Mrs. Clinton will leverage her years of experience into a presidential bid in 2016, for now, regarding her character, a former professor and CIA analyst, “This is the woman I want to see in office.”

Madam Secretary
Sundays at 8PM
beginning September 21