This story first appeared in the Jan. 16 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Shonda can’t do all your shows, can she?
Thursday’s Shonda Rhimes block and your diversity push (Black-ish) are both successes, Paul Lee, so feel free to take a quick victory lap around the Langham Huntington before you get the third degree. All right, what’s the plan for TGIT once short-order How to Get Away With Murder makes an early exit in February? And speaking of Rhimes, are you worried about overextending her? Tuesday has been deadly for comedy; should the new Fresh Off the Boat be concerned? (And is star Randall Park ready for questions about The Interview?) Agents of SHIELD and Agent Carter have yet to generate buzz familiar to the Marvel name — so where do you stand on Disney synergy? Nashville and Revenge are looking fatigued, and Resurrection returned with a shell of its former ratings. Could fall see a major drama reboot?
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Is pilot season still dead?
This is your first rodeo, Gary Newman and Dana Walden, and the network’s problems are ones you inherited, so we’ll probably go a little easy on you. But fourth place is fourth place, and your Pasadena debut comes after American Idol premieres a high-stakes season. What future does the show have on your Fox? And how do you plan to reinvigorate Sleepy Hollow‘s troubling 40 percent sophomore slump and maintain Gotham‘s strong launch? Can The Mindy Project survive? Hey, come to think of it, what broad vision do you have to turn this ship around? Predecessor Kevin Reilly made a big show this time last year about killing off pilot season. Do you plan to resurrect it or keep it buried?
Can you live with a hoarse Voice?
With so much on tap for midseason (Odyssey, The Slap, Allegiance, One Big Happy), what’s the Super Bowl promo plan? Is State of Affairs on life support for pulling in half of The Blacklist‘s ratings after The Voice? What are the Blacklist expectations when it shifts to Thursday? Speaking of drama, Bob Greenblatt, none of your freshman fare — save for critical punching bag Mysteries of Laura — has broken through. Is it time for that Chicago Medical spinoff? Comedy is down to one night a week; will Marry Me, About a Boy or anything from this season return? Or is Neil Patrick Harris‘ variety special the comedy future? Is it time for The Voice, off 20 percent with its most recent finale, to follow Idol and run once a season?
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Can you make a Virgin popular?
With two Golden Globe nominations, Jane the Virgin is a critical darling, but it’s hardly a hit with the audience. How will a network not known for comedy build its lackluster ratings? Congratulations on the success of The Flash, Mark Pedowitz, but with that and Arrow as your top freshman programs, how much more room is there for genre fare? And with your two freshmen still airing and the final season (it is the last one, right?) of Hart of Dixie scheduled, where do unscheduled new entries iZombie and The Messengers stand?
Charlie Sheen again? Really?
Your comedy woes run as deep as everybody else’s, Nina Tassler, but can we please get some clarity about what really happened to The Millers? And speaking of half-hours, what’s the word on Charlie Sheen‘s teased return for the Two and a Half Men finale? There are issues with several dramas (Elementary, Person of Interest, Under the Dome) all falling double digits this year, so how do you plan to set a stronger course? Is the original CSI done after this season? And this is more of a question for Leslie Moonves, but Thursday Night Football really helped your fall. What’s the latest on a renewal of that one-year contract? You’ve also got a little more than two months to build James Corden‘s profile before he takes over The Late Late Show. How do you entice Americans to tune in to the U.K. import?