Winter TCA: Awkward Questions Facing TV's Top Execs
This story first appeared in the Jan. 11, 2013, issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
What’s up with Angus T. Jones?
Sorry, Nina Tassler, there’s no way around it. You will be peppered with queries about your suddenly controversial Two and a Half Men star and the “filth” that is his sitcom. Fortunately, you’ve had years of practice dodging -- er, fielding -- questions about Men thanks to Charlie Sheen. (Think of it this way: The more we reporters talk about Jones and his video rant against Men, the less time we have to grill you about Partners or Made in Jersey.) While Men still is a top 10 ratings performer, it’s no longer a juggernaut, and costs continue to soar thanks to big salaries, including Jones’ $350,000-an-episode fee. Will co-creator Chuck Lorre kill the show after this season, or could it be rebooted again without Jones -- or, for that matter, last year’s newbie, Ashton Kutcher?
What the heck happened this fall?
We know, Kevin Reilly, fall isn’t your bag. You’ve got baseball messing with your flow. But you’re better than this. Two words: Mob Doctor. And we love Ben and Kate and The Mindy Project, but those sub-2.0 day-of ratings can’t make ol’ Rupert happy. Why didn’t you order more shows? Every network needs a bench. On the reality front, how will Simon Cowell reboot The X Factor this time? Buh-bye, Britney? And what if the Nicki Minaj-Mariah Carey experiment doesn’t work on American Idol? Remember, reporters love your refreshing candor, so get up there and be you, and we just might forget about those ratings.
So … now what?
You were right, Bob Greenblatt, so take your victory lap. You’ve jumped from No. 4 to No. 1. But the leap is two-thirds The Voice moving to fall and Sunday Night Football’s dominance and only one-third your scripted schedule. And with both of those and breakout Revolution gone in January, what happens then? And what about that crowded bench of yours? Will we ever see Hannibal? We’re going to want to discuss this plan to broaden your comedy brand, too. We get it, your Thursday lineup fell near a bottom-of-the-barrel 1.0 rating this December, but what will changes mean for our beloved Parks and Recreation and Community?
How about building that comedy block?
So, Paul Lee, you had high hopes for comedy The Neighbors and drama Nashville, and while you gave both series full-season orders, neither has approached hit status. What happened? Last Resort and 666 Park Avenue were canned, and now you’re abandoning plans -- for a second time -- to build a two-hour comedy block on Tuesdays after the critical hits Happy Endings and Don’t Trust the B---- in Apt. 23 got crushed on that night this fall. Instead, you’re filling the Tuesday night hole with -- wait, Celebrity Diving? And you’re again sandwiching two new low-buzz comedies, How to Live With Your Parents and Family Tools, into your Wednesday block. Oh, and don’t get us started on the three hours a week you commit twice a year to Dancing With the Stars, which is hemorrhaging viewers. How much life is left in Dancing, anyway?
Are you ready to abandon girls?
Congrats, Mark Pedowitz, Arrow worked! And it didn’t hinge on 15- to 25-year-old females. We’re not telling you to ditch the Josh Schwartz fare (Gossip Girl, Hart of Dixie, the upcoming Carrie Diaries), but maybe a few more shows for men?`