Summer TCA: Big, Imaginary Questions for the Major Network Chiefs
With the Television Critics Association's semiannual gathering underway, THR imagines the tough, impending questions (Colbert, Shonda, 'Empire,' Neil Patrick Harris) that can feel like they're coming from a firing squad.
This story first appeared in the August 7 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
A lot of us are just as excited about Supergirl as you, Nina Tassler, but there still are mounting concerns about where it fits in CBS' suite of procedurals. And who thought it was a good idea to schedule it against another superhero origin story, Fox's Gotham, on Monday nights? At least it's a chance to age down your audience. Speaking of which, Stephen Colbert stands to bring a payload of adults 18-to-49 when he launches Sept. 8. What's the plan to promote him, and how can you lure those younger viewers to primetime?
It's your second TCA, Gary Newman and Dana Walden, and your first to show off a schedule of your own making. So after a quick pat on the back for Empire's astronomical rise, let's get to the nagging questions: How is it going to dig you out of that deep No. 4 hole? Minority Report is your big swing, so what's going on with all of the retooling? And we're sure this will be broached with as much sensitivity as this crowd is capable of mustering, but one of your big fall stars just got out of rehab. Is John Stamos ready to topline his own weekly sitcom (Grandfathered)?
The drama Of Kings and Prophets didn't get much buzz at upfronts and was the first fall show expelled to midseason, so, Paul Lee, what's going on with the pricey South African shoot now that there's talk of major reworking? You won't put your Shonda Rhimes hot hand to the test until 2016, when the megaproducer premieres her fourth ABC show, The Catch, but what's going on with all of the changes there, too? (At least adding Peter Krause can't hurt.) You'll find no absence of affection for The Muppets in the ballroom, so expect the skepticism to fall on freshman dramas Quantico and Blood and Oil. Can they, or anything, lift the network's sagging Sunday?
Rumor has it Best Time Ever With Neil Patrick Harris — why aren't we allowed to call it a "variety show"? — is getting expensive. What, exactly, do you plan to achieve, Bob Greenblatt, and will critics have any idea what it's going to look like before it airs? With just two half-hours this fall — on Fridays, no less — is comedy even a priority? Heroes may have been a hit back in the day, but can Heroes Reborn really open Thursdays? And have you forgotten about that Law & Order reboot? Also, are you still renewing Aquarius when ratings weren't even good enough to keep it from being banished to Saturday nights? And who's replacing Donald Trump on The Apprentice?
You've got one new series to show off, Mark Pedowitz — and while Crazy Ex-Girlfriend clips went over well in May, those were cobbled from Showtime's original pilot. How will your hourlong version play? And while critics may love Jane the Virgin and The Flash, how are you going to get people to actually watch? There's a disconnect between acclaim and audience, and your decision to renew nearly the entire 2014-2015 lineup still has many scratching their heads.