LIVE FROM THE TELEVISION CRITICS ASSOCIATION SUMMER PRESS TOUR IN LOS ANGELES
In Today’s Issue
-NBC Panels: Guys With Kids, Chicago Fire, Animal Practice
-Metered Market Tuesday Ratings
-Weekly Ratings Scorecard
-Denzel Washington to Headline The Equalizer
-Cast of Modern Family Sues Over Contact
-Remembering Sherman Hemsley
-More Clearances for Me-TV
RECENT PRESS TOUR NEWS
-On the Air Tonight
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TCA SUMMER PRESS TOUR
Robert Greenblatt, the Chairman of NBC Entertainment, set the immediate tone by proclaiming satisfaction to being…um…No. 3. “We are very happy that we were No. 3 for the season in adults 18 49,” he said. “NBC hasn’t finished better than No. 4 since the 2003 2004 season. We’re also No. 2 in 18 34, behind only Fox. Our median age is younger than the other two big broadcast networks. We’re three years younger than ABC on average. And we’re six-and-a-half years younger than CBS.”
While youth is good, the immediate obstacle NBC faces is the audience size: it is limited. Sticking to the single-camera format in three of its four new comedies means the network just does not understand what it takes to find a big hit comedy. Don’t they watch CBS? And relocating ratings-challenged Rock Center With Brian Williams into the once plum Thursday 10 p.m. hour is a wasted opportunity. But Sunday Night Football is back, there is early buzz for new drama The Revolution, Chicago Fire from Dick Wolf taps into the old familiar type storytelling where recognizable heroes rule, and The Voice is poised for more success.
“Almost every reality franchise does two cycles a season, and one could argue that American Idol and X Factor are the same show in many respects, one in the Fall and one in the Spring,” said Greenblatt. “So, you know, we’re obviously cautious about expanding it. But we’ve also done some things to the format which, I think, is going to ensure that it is an even better show in the Fall and can sustain through the Spring.”
Regarding the network’s comedy strategy:
“I think we’re going to transition with our comedy programming and, you know, trying to broaden the audience and broaden what the network does,” noted Greenblatt. “Those Thursday comedies, which the critics love and we love, tend to be a bit more narrow than we’d ultimately like as we go forward.”
As for the so-called “Howard Stern experiment,” which one adept critic reminded the audience that ratings for America’s Got Talent are down, Greenblatt had this to say:
“Creatively, we’re thrilled with Howard on the show. He’s proven himself to be a wonderful addition to the panel of judges. I think that we debate frequently the ratings of all of our shows. And as we discuss AGT this summer, we look at what we’ve asked of the show. We started it in season where it premiered against very high rated finales of some of people’s of television’s favorite shows. And because it’s an unusual year due to the Olympics, we had to start early. And then we step down for two-and-a-half weeks, and then we come back. So given the television landscape, you know, secular declines in broadcasting, we’re thrilled, actually, with the performance of the show. And we’d be delighted if Howard wants to come back.”
Although adding anything but shy Howard Stern to America’s Got Talent was a risk, it is still likely to finish the summer as the top-rated season. Too bad NBC does not have that same luxury in the traditional (September to May) TV season.
GUYS WITH KIDS (NBC) – Wednesday 8:30 p.m.
A trio of guys (Zach Cregger, Jesse Branford and Anthony Anderson) living in the same building who must deal with parenthood despite not being the most mature in nature. Jimmy Fallon is one of the executive producers, with former Cosby kid Tempestt Bledsoe and Sopranos daughter Jamie-Lynn Sigler two of the series regulars.
-Lead-in: Animal Practice
-The Competition: The Neigbors (ABC), Survivor: Nicaragua (CBS), The X Factor (FOX), Arrow (CW)
-Who Was at the Panel:
Antony Anderson, Tempestt Bledsoe, Jesse Bradford, Zach Creggar, Jamie-Lynn Sigler; and executive producers Jimmy Fallon (via satellite), Charlie Grandy, Amy Ozols, Kenny Schwartz and Rick Wiener.
Jimmy Fallon on the evolution of Guys With Kids:
“When we came up with this idea, it was Amy and I, who is my producing partner, we were just talking about all the guys that we were seeing around New York City and Times Square, like with the Baby Bjorns and the babies on the backs of their bikes, and I was saying, like, these are like young good looking guys. They’re just embracing the role of dad, and we both said at the same time DILFs.
And so when we pitched the idea for DILFs, which you should know, if you know what a MILF is, this is a DILF. And immediately, thank God, NBC said, “Yeah. We probably can’t call the show DILF, so we’ll have to change that.” But basically it’s young parents, and it’s just very positive, very fun. It’s very, like, I would say, late night in a way, because we just want to have a good time. It’s not really about what a drag it is to have kids. It’s more like, “I’m bringing the kid to the baseball game, and I forgot diapers. How do I make a diaper out of a hot dog wrapper and a napkin?”
Yes, we know…NBC has too many comedies on the fall schedule. Nothing established is a hit and four new entries is a risk. But with HUT levels higher at 8:30 p.m., there is always the possibility more viewers will tune-in for Guys With Kids than its lead-in, Animal Practice. And the bar of comparison is set particularly low thanks to short-lived year-ago occupant Free Agents. While ratings could be limited, you do not need a large audience to stay on NBC, and Guys With Kids (the only new NBC multi-camera sitcom) looks comfortable enough to potentially succeed.
-Chance of Survival for Guys With Kids (Based on 1-1 to 10-1 odds):
CHICAGO FIRE (NBC) – Wednesday 10 p.m.
The complex and heroic men and women of the Chicago Fire Department is the focus of this action-packed drama from Law & Order creator Dick Wolf and Universal Television. The ensemble cast includes Eamonn Walker, Taylor Kinney. Monica Raymund, David Eigenberg, Charlie Barnet, Merle Dandridge, Lauren German and Teri Reeves.
-Lead-In: Law & Order: SVU
-The Competition: Nashville (ABC), CSI (CBS)
-Who Was at the Panel:
Charlie Barnett, David Eigenberg, Lauren German, Taylor Kinney, Monica Raymund, Teri Reeves, Jesse Spencer, Eamonn Walker; and executive producer Dick Wolf.
Dick Wolf on the theme of Chicago Fire:
“This is not a fire-of-the-week. It’s a character study about people who do things that you can’t pay people to do. You can’t pay people to run into burning buildings. So it is a canvas for good writing and writing that you haven’t seen for a while on network television. This is a big, full broadcast show with multi-characters and multi-storylines going on. And the writers’ room could be put in a book about screenwriting, because to carry all these characters’ stories forward for 13 full episodes is a monumental task. And unless you have an incredibly talented writing staff, you end up doing fire-of-the-week, because that’s really easy. I mean, it’s not easy but it’s understandable. What we’re trying to do here is a very, very classic, adult, NBC platinum drama.”
Minus Law & Order in the title, producer Dick Wolf’s recent track record has not been sketchy (think Conviction, L.A. Dragnet, Deadline and Arrest & Trial). But Chicago Fire is basically Law & Order set in a fire department; heroes on the job is an uplifting type of storytelling; and fans of an action-packed drama with a beginning, a middle and an end in each episode will not be disappointed. With CSI on CBS long-in-the-tooth and upcoming Nashville on ABC an attraction for females, there could, and should, be a place for Chicago Fire on NBC.
-Chance of Survival for Chicago Fire (Based on 1-1 to 10-1 odds):
ANIMAL PRACTICE (NBC) – Wednesday 8 p.m.
Described as a comedic version of House, the sitcom centers on a veterinarian (Justin Kirk) who loves animals but usually hates their owners. Tyler Labine (Reaper) and Bobby Lee (MADtv) co-star.
-The Competition: The Middle (ABC), Survivor: Nicaragua (CBS), The X Factor (FOX), Arrow (CW)
-Who Was at the Panel:
Justin Kirk, Tyler Labine, Bobby Lee, Betsy Sodaro, JoAnna Garcia, Kym Whitley; and executive producers Bran Gatewood, Alessandro Tanaka, Gail Lerner, Scot Armstrong and Anthony Russo.
Justin Kirk on appearing opposite a monkey:
“I was told when I asked her handler, Tom, who is the man behind the woman, I said, “What’s the best way to ingratiate myself to Crystal, and bond with her?” And he says, and I think he’s told others of us, “Ignore her. Don’t try to grab her,” and I said, “I’ve been doing that all my life. So it shouldn’t be difficult.” So she’s just super-cool. Like, she’s the most famous monkey in Hollywood, so you try to be cool around her. We just presented an award together this weekend at the Teen Choice Awards, so we hang out off set too.”
Anthony Russo on working with animals:
“There is an adage in the entertainment business, never work with children and never work with animals because of the perceived difficulties of working with both and the restrictions. But I have to tell you, on this show and this might sound untruthful, but it actually is true. It’s almost unnoticeable. The company, Birds & Animals, that we use, that provides all our animals, is an amazing company with amazing trainers and handlers, and all the animals are very well-prepped before they’re brought to set in terms of what we’re looking for them to do. The environment that we maintain on set is very pet-friendly and calm. Everyone knows how to behave around the animals.”
Yes, the animals are cute, particularly Crystal the Monkey who completely steals every scene she is in. If I was one of the two-legged actors, I would be wary. But animals alone cannot carry a series, the story is generic, and the competition is fierce. Unless a reunion of Daktari is in the works, Crystal and her four-legged co-stars could be out of work by midseason.
-Chance of Survival for Animal Practice (Based on 1-1 to 10-1 odds):
Metered Market Tuesday Ratings
America’s Got Talent Tops the Night
Metered Market Results
Fox 4.4/ 7
CBS 4.3/ 7
ABC 2.3/ 4
CW 0.5/ 1
-Percent Change from Year-Ago Evening – Tuesday 7/26/11
CW: +25, Fox: + 7, NBC: – 5, CBS: – 9, ABC: -15
America’s Got Talent (NBC), Hell’s Kitchen (Fox), Masterchef (Fox), NY Med (ABC)
-Losers (excluding repeats):
Trust Us With Your Life (ABC), The L.A. Complex (CW), Love In the Wild (NBC)
America’s Got Talent lifted NBC to Tuesday victory, with a 7.1 rating/12 share in the overnights from 8-10 p.m., peaking in the 9 p.m. half hour at a 7.7/12. Comparably, this was right on par with one year earlier. America’s Got Talent led into Love In the Wild, which finished third with a 2.9/ 5 at 10 p.m. Retention for Love in the Wild out of the 9:30 p.m. portion of America’s Got Talent (7.7/12) was only 38 percent, which based on the metered markets makes this a “loser.”
Next was Fox care of demo favorites Hell’s Kitchen (#2: 4.4/ 8) and Masterchef (#2: 4.4/ 7), which was just picked-up for a fourth season. Year to year, the duo increased by seven percent and they remain solid performers among key adults 18-49.
Elsewhere, CBS populated this fourth Tuesday in July with encore telecasts of NCIS (#2: 4.9/ 8), spin-off NCIS: Los Angeles (#2: 4.1/ 7) and Person of Interest, which led the 10 p.m. hour in the overnights with a 3.8/ 7. Two more original half-hours of recent ABC summer entry Trust Us With Your Life sunk to an average 1.4/ 2 in the overnights from 9-10 p.m., which was 26 percent below an 8:30 p.m. encore of sitcom Last Man Standing (#4: 1.9/ 3). Last week they averaged a 1.6/ 3.
Earlier in the evening on ABC was a repeat of The Middle at a 2.4/ 4 (#4) at 8 p.m. At 10 p.m. was episode three of NY Med at a second place 3.5/ 6. Worth positively noting for older skewing NY Med was overnight growth out of the 9:30 p.m. edition of Trust Us With Your Life (1.3/ 2) of 169 percent.
The CW capped off the evening with a repeat of Hart of Dixie (#5: 0.6/ 1), which will not have an easy time anchoring Tuesday next season, and Canadian drama The L.A. Complex (#5: 0.4/ 1). Unfortunately, not every program from Canada resonates here.
Source: Nielsen Media Research
OTHER NETWORK NEWS
Denzel Washington to Headline The Equalizer
Remember 1985-89 CBS crime solver The Equalizer, with Edward Woodward as professional “fixer” who is available for hire if you have a problem that you don’t know how to solve? Two time Academy Award winner Denzel Washington will earn a reported $20 million to star in a big screen version of the cult classic. Production is expected to begin next April in Boston, with a long list of potential directors including Pierre Morel (Taken), Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive), Gavin O’Connor (Warrior) and Gareth Evans (The Raid).
Weekly Ratings Scorecard
Three networks dominated the week of July 16, with CBS most-watched, ABC first in adults 18-49 and adults 25-54, and Fox tops among adults 18-34. ABC’s victory stemmed from four hours of summer favorite The Bachelorette (including the season-finale on Sunday) and special The Bachelorette: After the Final Rose. CBS mainstay Big Brother remained close to one year earlier, meanwhile, but the ongoing observation is the lack of any new hit programming this summer (including The Glass House, Trust Us With Your Life, NY Med and Duets on ABC; Saving Hope on NBC; and Take Me Out on Fox this week).
For more, click here: http://tinyurl.com/catxgak.
Cast of Modern Family Sues Over Contact
Five stars of hit ABC sitcom Modern Family — Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet and Sofia Vergara — have joined forces in a lawsuit claiming that their contracts with 20th Century Fox are illegal under California law. The actors did not show up to the table read scheduled for Tuesday morning that would have marked the start of production on the fourth season. The five are reportedly looking for a pay hike to $200,000 per episode in the upcoming season and larger raises for each additional season of the show. A spokeswoman for 20th Century Fox said the studio had no immediate comment on the case.
The move mirrors the time the six actors from Friends filed a joint lawsuit, which ultimately resulted in one million dollars per episode by the series’ final season. Needless to say, ABC will certainly not let Modern Family just slip away.
Remembering Sherman Hemsley
Sherman Hemsley, who is fondly remembered for his long-running role as George Jefferson, first on All in the Family and then on spin-off The Jeffersons, passed away today. He was 74 years old and the cause of his death was apparently of natural causes.
Born on February 1, 1938 in Philadelphia, Hemsley was discovered by producer Norman Lear while on tour for play Purlie in 1971. Due to his commitment to Purlie, Hemsley turned down the role initially (and TV wife Isabel “Weezie” Sanford, who was 21 years Hemsley’s senior, was seen without her boisterous hubby), but turned up two years later and the idea for spinning off The Jeffersons was born. Debuting on January 18, 1975, The Jeffersons aired for 10 and-one-half seasons, producing 253 episodes.
Hemsley also found sitcom success on NBC in Amen, which aired from 1986-91 and was featured on a short-lived UPN sitcom called Goode Behavior in from 1996 to 1997. His most recent appearance was in TBS sitcom House of Payne.
Source: Nielsen Media Research
More Clearances for Me-TV
Weigel Brooadcasting Co. and Hearst Television have announced an affiliation agreement in five additional Hearst markets for Me-TV: WCVB/Boston. KCRA/Sacramento. WBAL/Baltimore, KOCO/Oklahoma City and WXII/Greensboro. This brings the total of Hearst’s Me-TV affiliates to 13, with renewals of its existing Me-TV affiliate agreements to 2015.
RECENT PRESS TOUR NEWS
-Suburgatory and The Neighbors to Switch Time Periods: http://tinyurl.com/chm924v
-Monday Scorecard: http://tinyurl.com/c3xkjvc
-Handicapping the New Fox Series – The Mob Doctor: http://www.tvmediainsights.com/2012/07/the-mob-doctor/
-Handicapping the New Fox Series – Ben and Kate: http://tinyurl.com/buvd9ap-Handicapping the New
-Handicapping the New Fox Series – The Mindy Project: http://tinyurl.com/cquspeq
-Mariah Carey Names New American Idol Judge: http://tinyurl.com/cs5rjgm
-Downton Abbey Update: http://tinyurl.com/c6bpkl2
-Saturday Scorecard: http://tinyurl.com/c6xo9qk
-PBS Kicks-Off Summer Press Tour: http://tinyurl.com/bm3c98w
-Friday Ratings Snapshot: http://tinyurl.com/bpon86x
-TCA Summer Press Tour: http://tinyurl.com/7uqppgx
Wednesday, July 25
8:00 p.m. The Middle (R)
8:30 p.m. Suburgatory (R)
9:00 p.m. Modern Family (R)
9:30 p.m. Modern Family (R
9:30 p.m. Final Witness
8:00 p.m. Big Brother
9:00 p.m. Criminal Minds (R)
10:00 p.m. CSI (R)
8:00 p.m. The Clio’s: The World’s Best Commercials
9:00 p.m. America’s Got Talent
10:00 p.m. Law & Order: SVU (R)
8:00 p.m. So You Think You Can Dance (two hours)
8:00 p.m. Supernatural (R)
9:00 p.m. Supernatural (R)
Of Note on Cable:
-Top Chef Masters (Bravo, 10 p.m. ET): season premiere
-Wake Brothers (MTV, 11 p.m. ET): season premiere
As a reminder: The daily Trivia Challenge will return on Monday, August 6.
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Marc Berman is the Editor in Chief for TV Media Insights, the online destination for television and media. Berman has appeared on camera for Extra, Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood, The CBS Evening News, CNN, and more; and his 2014 desk calendar, “Today in TV History,” is presently available.
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