The Programming Insider: Upfront Week Begins

NBC to launch six new series, Fox on deck

In Today's Issue:

NBC in 2011-12: Six New Series, Changes on Four Nights
Prime-Time Ratings: Friday and Saturday Results
On the Air Tonight: Prime-Time Programming Options
TV Tidbits: Notes of Interest
TV Trivia Time: To Renew or Not to Renew

Note: It is upfront presentation week, with the five broadcast networks unveiling their prime-time programming plans for next fall.  NBC, which already announced its lineup (see next section), goes first, followed by Fox this afternoon, ABC Tuesday, CBS Wednesday, and The CW on Thursday.  The priority this week, of course, will be the schedule announcements.

NBC in 2011-12: Six Six New Series, Changes on Four Nights

NBC will introduce six new series this fall, three sitcoms and three dramas, with changes on four nights of the week (with Tuesday, Saturday and football-populated Sunday remaining intact).  The comedies are Up All Night Night, Free Agents, and Whitney; and the dramas The Playboy Club, Prime Suspect, and Grimm.

Holiday singing competition The Sing-Off has been upgraded to the fall and positioned in the Monday 8-10 p.m. block, leading into The Playboy Club.  NBC will expand to a second night of comedies with half-hours Up All Night and Free Agents in the Wednesday 8-9 p.m. hour, leading into relocated returnee Harry’s Law, headlined by Kathy Bates, and veteran Law & Order: SVU.  Thursday’s three-hour sitcom block has been pared down to two hours, with new drama Prime Suspect at 10 p.m. out of Community, relocated Parks and Recreation, The Office, and new sitcom Whitney.  And Friday will feature relocated Chuck in the 8 p.m. hour (with its final 13 episodes), leading into new drama Grimm and a one-hour edition of Dateline.

Highly anticipated musical drama Smash, headlined by Debra Messing, will debut in the Monday 10 p.m. hour in January leading out of the return of The Voice.  Also in midseason will be new drama The Firm, based on the John Grisham novel, Sundays at 10 p.m. out of Dateline and Celebrity Apprentice (from 8-10 p.m.), new drama Awake, new sitcom Are You There Vodka?  It’s Me Chelsea, and the return of critically acclaimed 30 Rock.

“We have a few priorities, including making sure The Voice is back in as strong as a format as possible, and expanding to another night of comedies,” said Bob Greenblatt, chairman, NBC Entertainment.  “If we can do both of those things that would be a real win.”

Also in contention for midseason is a newsmagazine hosted by Brian Williams.  Celebrity Apprentice, meanwhile, will live on with another person handling the boardroom should Donald Trump decide to run for president.  And there is a contingency plan in place for Sunday Night Football if it is thwarted by a pending strike.

“We are very close to what is going on and are feeling optimistic football will be there,” said Greenblatt.  “If there is a delay, we will produce high-event special reality programming to fill the evening.”

While you cannot blame NBC, of course, for attempting to combine the new with established series, the inherent problems from the get-go is only 45 percent of the schedule is original scripted programming, lack of anchor support on Thursday and Friday, the absence of protected time periods for half of its new product, a 0-for-7 return rate for its fall 2010 entries, and an overly cautious schedule.  Unfortunately, no one ever said rebuilding the lineup would be easy for NBC.

Not returning on the network next season will be sitcoms Outsourced and Perfect Couples, dramas The Event, Friday Night Nights, and Law & Order: Los Angeles; and game show Minute to Win It.

Here is NBC’s fall 2011 line-up (with new shows bolded in caps).

8:00 p.m. The Sing-Off (two hours)

8:00 p.m. The Biggest Loser (two hours)
10:00 p.m. Parenthood

8:00 p.m. UP ALL NIGHT
8:30 p.m. FREE AGENTS
9:00 p.m. Harry’s Law (new day and time)
10:00 p.m. Law & Order: SVU

8:00 p.m. Community
8:30 p.m. Parks and Recreation (new time)
9:00 p.m. The Office
9:30 p.m. WHITNEY
10:00 p.m. PRIME SUSPECT

8:00 p.m. Chuck (new day)
9:00 p.m. GRIMM
10:00 p.m. Dateline

8:00 p.m. Encore programming

7:00 p.m. Football Night in America
8:15 p.m. NBC Sunday Night Football


Are You There Vodka?  It’s Me Chelsea (Midseason)
Inspired by Chelsea Handler's autobiographical book of the same name, a highly opinionated single young woman in her 20s (Laura Prepon) who works as a cocktail waitress is the focus.

Free Agents
The trials and tribulations of two public relations executives (Hank Azaria and Kathryn Hahn) on the rebound is the focus of this workplace/romantic comedy.

Up All Night
Christina Applegate is back in prime time in this tale of an acerbic working mother who never thought she would be a parent and be with her stay-at-home husband and her opinionated parents.

A young couple tries to balance their lives together in this sitcom inspired by the comedy of Whitney Cummings.


Awake (Midseason)
Described as an Inception-like thriller, a police detective (Jason Isaacs) wakes up in two different realities after a horrible car crash: one in which his son lives and the other where his wife lives.

Inspired by the classic Grimm's fairy tales, a homicide detective (David Giuntoli) has a mission to protect humans living in a world where the Grimm’s Fairy Tale characters actually exist.

The Playboy Club
Set in a Chicago Playboy Club in 1963, the scripted hour will follow the lives of the club's Bunnies while also exploring the political and moral changes of the era.  The ensemble cast includes Amber Heard, David Krumholtz, and Eddie Cibrian.

Prime Suspect
In this remake of the British series, a skilled, top-class female detective (Maria Bello) battles to prove herself in a tough New York precinct.  Aidan Quinn plays the squad commander.

Smash (Midseason)
From executive producer Steven Spielberg, a diversified group of characters come together to put on a Broadway musical based on the life of Marilyn Monroe.  Debra Messing, Christian Borle, and American Idol’s Katharine McPhee star.


PRIME-TIME RATINGS: Friday and Saturday Results

Friday 5/13/11
Note: The following results are based on the fast affiliate ratings (live-plus-same-d ay data).

Household Rating/Share:
CBS: 6.1/11, NBC: 3.3/ 6, ABC: 2.8/ 5, Fox: 2.1/ 4, CW: 1.8/ 3

Total Viewers:
CBS: 9.71 million, NBC: 4.77, ABC: 4.36, Fox: 3.46, CW: 2.97

Adults 18-49:
CBS: 1.5/ 5, Fox: 1.4/ 5, CW: 1.3/ 5, ABC: 1.3/ 4,  NBC: 1.1/ 4

Note: Any prior rating results are based on the final nationals.  Since the level of DVR penetration has increased from 33 percent at this same point last year to approximately 38 percent at present, the overall results may be negatively impacted.

Friday’s Winners:
CSI: NY (CBS), Blue Bloods (CBS)

Friday’s Losers (excluding repeats):
Friday Night Lights (NBC), Primetime: What Would You Do? (ABC), Fringe (Fox), 20/20 (ABC)

Ratings Breakdown:
CBS led this second Friday in May, with a first-place finish in both total viewers and adults 18-49.  But the two-hour series-finale of Smallville on The CW—Viewers: 2.97 million (#5), A18-49: 1.3 rating/5 share from 8-10 p.m.—finished as the series' most watched episode and the network's most watched Friday night since Oct. 15, 2010.  Smallville finished second for the evening in adults 18-34 (1.2/ 5) and adults 18-49 (1.3/ 5).

CBS opened with recent returnee Flashpoint (Viewers: #1, 7.51 million; A18-49: #2t, 1.3/ 5 at 8 p.m.), which is no longer the attraction it once was, followed by the season (or series) finale of CSI: NY (Viewers: #1, 10.22 million; A18-49: #1, 1.5/ 5 at 9 p.m.) and the season-finale of freshman crime solver Blue Bloods (Viewers: #1, 10.22 million; A18-49: #1, 1.5/ 5 at 10 p.m.).  Had CSI: NY been on another network, its potential renewal would not be a question mark.

Over at ABC, the season-finale of just renewed Shark Tank, a Mr. TV favorite, finished second in both total viewers (5.00 million) and adults 18-49 (1.3/ 5 – tied with Flashpoint) at 8 p.m.  Next was Primetime: What Would You Do? (Viewers: #3, 3.71 million; A18-49: #4t, 1.2/ 4), which faded as the season progressed, and 20/20 (Viewers: #3, 4.37 million; A18-49: #3, 1.2/ 4) from 9-11 p.m.

Elsewhere, NBC populated the evening with soon-to-conclude Friday Night Lights (Viewers: #4, 2.80 million; A18-49: #5, 0.7/ 3 at 8 p.m.) and another two-hour installment of uneventful Dateline (Viewers: 5.62 million; A18-49: 1.4/ 5 from 9-11 p.m.).  Kitchen Nightmares on Fox (Viewers: #3, 3.69 million; A18-49: #1, 1.5/ 6 at 8 p.m.) led into the season-finale of Fringe (Viewers: #4, 3.23 million; A18-49: #3, 1.3/ 4 at 9 p.m.), which from a ratings perspective should really be concluding.

Source: Nielsen Media Research data (R = repeat)

Saturday 5/14/11
Note: The following results are based on the fast affiliate ratings (live-plus-same-day data).

Household Rating/Share:
CBS: 3.6/ 7, NBC: 2.5/ 5, Fox: 2.4/ 4, ABC: 2.3/ 4              

Total Viewers:
CBS: 5.40 million, ABC: 3.98, NBC: 3.82, Fox: 3.80

Adults 18-49:
ABC: 1.4 rating/5 share, Fox: 1.1/ 4, CBS: 1.0/ 3, NBC: 0.9/ 3

Note: Any prior rating results are based on the final nationals.  Since the level of DVR penetration has increased from 33 percent at this same point last year to approximately 38 percent at present, the overall results may be negatively impacted.

Saturday’s Winners:

Saturday’s Losers (excluding repeats):
Chase (NBC), Major League Baseball (Fox), and the night overall

Ratings Breakdown:
It was a Saturday of mixed leadership, but neither CBS (with 5.40 million viewers) or ABC (with a 1.4 rating/5 share among adults 18-49) has anything to boast about.  CBS populated the evening with repeats of CSI (Viewers: #1, 4.56 million; A18-49: #3, 0.7/ 3) and The Mentalist (Viewers: #1, 5.04 million; A18-49: #3t, 0.8/ 3) from 8-10 p.m., followed by long-running 48 Hours Mystery at 6.60 million viewers (#1) and a 1.4/ 4 in the demo (#2) at 10 p.m.  ABC aired repeat theatrical Pirates of the Caribbean at World’s End, which averaged 3.98 million viewers (#2) and a dominant 1.4/ 5 among adults 18-49 from 8-11 p.m.

Elsewhere, another burn-off episode of NBC’s Chase earned its cancellation stripes with just 2.77 million viewers (#4) and a 0.6/ 2 in the demo (#4) at 8 p.m.  Next on the wilted Peacock net were repeats of canceled Law & Order: Los Angeles (Viewers: #4, 3.67 million; A18-49: #3t, 0.8/ 3) and Law & Order: SVU (Viewers: #2, 5.01 million; A18-49: #3, 1.2/ 4) from 9-11 p.m.  Major League Baseball in place of Cops and America’s Most Wanted on Fox struck out with 3.80 million viewers (#4) and a 1.1/ 4 among adults 18-49 (#2) from 8-10 p.m.

As the networks unveil their fall 2011 lineups this week, no one is expected to even try to program Saturday aggressively.

Source: Nielsen Media Research data (R = repeat)


ON THE AIR TONIGHT: Prime-Time Programming Options

Monday 5/16/11
Day 19 of the May 2011 Sweep

8:00 p.m. Dancing With the Stars
10:00 p.m. Castle (season finale)

8:00 p.m. How I Met Your Mother (season finale)
8:30 p.m. Mad Love (series finale)
9:00 p.m. The Big Bang Theory (R)
9:30 p.m. Mike & Molly
10:00 p.m. Hawaii Five-O (season finale)

8:00 p.m. Chuck (season finale)
9:00 p.m. The Event
10:00 p.m. Law & Order: Los Angeles

8:00 p.m. House
9:00 p.m. The Chicago Code

8:00 p.m. 90210
9:00 p.m. Gossip Girl


TV TIDBITS: Notes of Interest

CBS Pick-Ups:
CBS has announced its first two official series pick-ups for next fall: drama Person of Interest and sitcom Two Broke Girls.  From Lost creator J.J. Abrams, Person of Interest features an ex-CIA agent (Jim Caviezel), presumed dead, and a scientist (Kevin Chapman) who team up to attempt to prevent crimes before they occur.  Two Broke Girls focuses on two struggling waitresses at a Brooklyn diner (Beth Behrs and Kat Dennings) who aspire to open their own cupcake shop, but the catch is the $250,000 in startup capital needed to make their dream come true.

Speaking of CBS:
CBS pilot Ringer, with former Buffy, the Vampire star Sarah Michelle Gellar as a troubled woman on the run who hides out by living the life of her wealthy twin sister until she learns her sibling’s life has a bounty on it as well, is apparently a go…at The CW.  Sibling The CW will include it on the fall schedule.

ABC Orders 12 New Series for 2011-12:
ABC, which will officially announce its fall schedule tomorrow, has confirmed the addition of 12 new series (five sitcoms and seven dramas), and has added Shark Tank and recent entries Body of Proof, Happy Endings, and Secret Millionaire to its list or renewals.  The new sitcoms, which are expected to populate a second night of comedies, are Apartment 23, Last Man Standing (formerly Tim), Man Up, Suburgatory and Work It.  The upcoming dramas are Good Christian Belles (formerly Good Christian Bitches), Pan Am, Revenge, Once Upon a Time, The River, Scandal, and the highly publicized revival of Charlie’s Angels.

The new program descriptions are as follows:


Apartment  23
Originally called The Bitch in Apartment 23, a sweet and optimistic girl from the heartland is forced to move in with a sexy, trouble-making party-girl roommate.  Dreama Walker, Krysten Ritter, and James Van Der Beek star.

Last Man Standing
Former Home Improvement star Tim Allen is back as a so-called manly man working at a sporting goods store with a wife who is now a top corporate executive, a 22-year-old daughter who works multiple jobs, and a slacker son who spends the majority of the day playing videogames.

Man Up
Three modern day men search for their identities and try to prove that there is also a sensitive family-driven side to “real men.”  Mather Zickel, Christopher Moynihan, Henry Simmons, and Teri Polo star.

A New York City-based single father (Jeremy Sisto) raising a 16-year-old girl (Jane Levy) heads to the suburbs where life is not as innocent and simple as he thinks.

Work It
Shades of Bosom Buddies, two recently unemployed men (Ben Koldyke and Amaury Nolasco) play out-of-work car salesmen who dress as women to work as pharmaceutical reps.


Charlie’s Angels
An update of the classic 1976-1981 campy crime solver (and recent theatrical series) about three women who work for a private investigation agency, this time set in Miami.  Robert Wagner is the voice of Charlie.

Good Christian Belles
Based on the book of the same name and executive-produced by Darren Starr (Sex and the City), a recently divorced mother of two (Leslie Bibb) moves back to the affluent Texas neighborhood where she grew up and discovers a malicious group of women in the Christian community.

Once Upon a Time
A young bail bonds collector (Jennifer Morrison), who is contacted by the 10-year-old child she gave up years ago, finds herself in a town where fairy tales are real.

Pan Am
Described as Mad Men meets Grey’s Anatomy, Addams Family star Christina Ricci leads the ensemble cast in this 1963 set soapy tale of a group of pilots and stewardesses at Pan Am Airlines.

Set in the Hamptons and described as a modern day retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo from a female perspective, a beautiful young woman (Emily Van Camp) goes on a mission to seek revenge on the people who took everything from her years earlier.

The River
A missing adventurer (Bruce Greenwood) and the family that heads into the Amazon to try to find him is the focus of this action/adventure.

Kerry Washington plays a professional fixer who makes problems go away before anyone knows they exist in this new drama from Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes.  Henry Ian Cusick (Lost) and Tony Goldwyn co-star.

Not returning on ABC are dramas Brothers & Sisters, Off the Map, V, Detroit 1-8-7, and No Ordinary Family, and freshman sitcom Better With You.


TV TRIVIA TIME: To Renew or Not to Renew

Which one of the following five series has yet to be officially renewed for next season?

a) Chuck
b) Cougar Town
c) One Tree Hill
d) Raising Hope
e) Rules of Engagement

Note: To respond to the trivia, please click HERE. Do not click Reply

The answer to Friday’s question…

Remember the classic episode of The Twilight Zone called “Living Doll” when a wicked doll named Talky Tina promises to murder her owner's cruel step-father?  Who played the stepfather?

a) Fred MacMurray
b) Steve McQueen
c) Cesar Romero
d) Telly Savalas
e) William Shatner

Is: d) Telly Savalas years before his stint on Kojak.

Current kudos goes to:
Matthew Berriman, Gerry Bixenspan, John Brooker, Al Canaletich, John Carlo, Tom Condosta, Audrey Davis, John Ferlazzo, Geoffrey Gordon, Jerry Hermes, Julie Hurwitz, Bob Ingersoll, David Jackino, Deb Kainer, Neal Kieler, Mary Kinoshita, Synda Kollman, Steven Kurtzer, Bill Landau, Richard Mann, Anne Moynihan, Michael Murphy, Robyn Brown-Postell, Gordon Purcell, Cynthia Qualich, Colleen Roth, David Ruckman, Mel Sant, Karen Schiffman, Troy Wassill, Rob Wilson