It’s that time again in the US when the big American TV networks, their producers, advertisers, stars, agents and other hangers on all get together at the Upfronts in New York and LA to preview the offerings for the 2013-14 season.
In the past couple of weeks there have been an increasing number of stories about cancellations, renewals, postponements, passes, etc, as the networks and the producers jockey for position. This is vital to the Australian TV networks as they visit Los Angeles for the network showings towards the end of this week and into next week. The list of hits from last year’s showings for Australian networks is pretty thin — most of the well-known programs (such as Revenge and Modern Family), are older than the 2012-13 season.
There will be more feedback from the Upfronts and the screenings. Seven will be hoping for more after its highly regarded Last Resort only lasted 13 episodes. Its other big US hope, Red Widow, has bitten the dust as well. Ten and Nine have basically ridden on the back of older hits (The Big Bang Theory is Nine’s biggest US hit for some years and continues that way). Nine’s The Following has faded to 9.30pm on Wednesdays and is no longer mainstream. Ten gained Elementary last year, which has been the Australian network’s biggest US hit of the past year (and one of the few hits from anywhere for the network).
CBS is America’s most watched network. The comedies are Chuck Lorre’s Mom (he created Two And A Half Men and The Big Bang Theory on Nine here), The Millers, We Are Men, and Crazy Ones, starring Robin Williams. New dramas are the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced conspiracy thriller Hostages (Bruckheimer did the CSI series, and Hostages includes Toni Collette), crime procedural Intelligence and Reckless, a legal soap, and on Sunday it confirmed a new comedy called Friends With Better Lives. Criminal Minds (Seven) was earlier renewed late last week. CBS also passed on the highly touted TV version of Beverley Hills Cop. It killed off Rules of Engagement (Ten) and CSI: New York. In March CBS renewed a number of old favourites, including The Mentalist, Person of Interest, Survivor, 2 Broke Girls, Mike and Molloy, CSI and The Big Bang Theory (Nine) and The Good Wife, NCIS: LA, Elementary, and Hawaii Five -O (all Ten), as well as The Amazing Race (Nine), and How I Met Your Mother (Seven).
ABC is struggling and is looking for a lot of new material. It has renewed Nashville, Neighbours, Suburgatory, Scandal, Once Upon A Time, Revenge, Grey’s Anatomy and Castle (Seven), Last Man Standing, Modern Family (Ten), and The Middle (Nine). ABC is expected to renew Shark Tank, Dancing With The Stars and The Bachelor tonight, our time. (Ten has picked it up here for later this year). It picked up Betrayal, Mixology, Back in The Game, The Returned, Influence, Super Fun Night (Rebel Wilson), S.H.I.E.L.D., Lucky 7, Killer Women, Trophy Wife, Mind Games, Resurrection and The Goldbergs. It killed off Body of Proof (Seven), Happy Endings, How To Live With Your Parents, Red Widow (one of Seven’s US programs for this year) and Malibu Country.
NBC is really weak, with only two series of The Voice this season keeping it in the game: It has killed off Whitney, Guys With Kids, 1600 Penn, Up All Night and Go On. NBC renewed Grimm, Parks and Recreation (Seven), Revolution (Fox 8), Law & Order: SVU (Ten), and Chicago Fire (Foxtel) and it has picked up Undateable and Ironside. It picked up The Michael J Fox Show, Family Guide, Dracula, Crisis, Believe, Chicago PD, The Blacklist, Welcome To The Family, The Night Shift, Sean Saves The World and About A Boy (sans Hugh Grant).
Burn Notice (on ONE), will get a seventh and last season with the USA Network.
Fox (part of the The Murdoch family-controlled News Corp/21st Century Fox) is struggling with a ratings slide driven by the poor figures for American Idol. It seems to have developed a dose of the Ten Network blues — not only is its flagship American Idol dying on camera, with some if not all the judges departing at the end of what will be the worst season since it started in 2002. American Idol’s 2013 finale is this Wednesday night (US time). Fox says it will air a MasterChef spin-off that bombed in Australia called Junior MasterChef (it’s from Shine, the Murdoch family in-house TV production arm of News Corp). Gordon Ramsay will host it and MasterChef.
As part of Ramsay’s new deal, Fox also has picked up one additional season of Hell’s Kitchen (its 13th season), and two more seasons of MasterChef (its 5th and 6th US seasons). Junior Masterchef brings the total number of Ramsay-led shows airing on Fox to five – Masterchef, Hell’s Kitchen, Junior M/C, Hotel Hell and Kitchen Nightmares. Now that’s ubiquity. Fox earlier picked up a US version of Rake, the Australian production. Fox has also picked up new series, Almost Human, Us & Them, Brooklyn Nine Nine, Enlisted, Dads, Surviving Jack, Gang Related, and Sleepy Hollow.
Many of these programs will end up on the digital channels here of Seven, Nine and Ten and on Foxtel. Ten and Foxtel have a sharing agreement with Fox, with Ten getting first pick.