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There’s trouble brewing on ABC’s freshman drama Blood and Oil.
The drama starring Don Johnson as an oil baron has changed showrunners, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed, with Jon Harmon Feldman (No Ordinary Family, Dirty Sexy Money) taking over the reins from Cynthia Cidre.
Worse: The news about the showrunner change came out after the cast and producers presented the show to a roomful of about 200 critics at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour, where producers on hand Tony Krantz, Josh Pate and Rodes Fishburne (who all developed the show) were asked about Cidre’s whereabouts: “For the producers, can you talk about Cynthia Cidre’s role as co-exec producer/showrunner, and is there a reason she’s not here today?”
“She had a personal thing that she could not be here today,” Krantz said. “She’s an executive producer on the show. We love her. She’s part of the family of what we’re doing.”
Asked after the panel why producers didn’t address the showrunner change, an ABC spokesperson told THR that the question was only about Cidre’s whereabouts, not if the show was making a change.
Cidre signed an overall deal in June with ABC Studios and boarded Blood and Oil as co-showrunner alongside Pate. The Dallas alum will remain on board the drama as an exec producer.
ABC announcing the showrunner change after the TCA panel should be seen as a clear sign of the network attempting to hide the behind-the-scenes issues with the soapy drama about a North Dakota oil boom and the money-hungry risk takers drawn to it. Instead, the morning panel focused only on the drama’s soap factor and comparisons to Dallas, with critics more likely to have inquired about the creative issues surrounding the show had the news of the showrunner change broken ahead of time.
Multiple sources tell THR that there are production issues with inexperienced crews in Utah, where the series is filming, and that ABC has been extremely hands-on in its creative direction and feels the drama has the biggest potential to break out this fall. Insiders say the network has had a heavy hand in asking for rewrites to create higher stakes and more OMG moments — which have been a key feature of the network with the success of shows like Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder.
Beyond the creative issues, Blood and Oil has been one of many rookie series to undergo recastings — not uncommon after the talent pool expands following May’s series pickups. The series added Aurora Perrineau to replace Caitlin Carver as Johnson’s on-screen daughter. Perrineau was later replaced by Miranda Rae Mayo after the character was aged-up. Additionally, Adan Canto replaced Yani Gellman as the adviser to Johnson’s Hap. (ABC has also recast roles on Quantico as well as Shondaland midseason drama The Catch.)
The creative issues on Blood and Oil — set to bow in the fall on Sundays at 9 p.m. — come as ABC has already tweaked its fall schedule. Biblical drama Of Kings and Prophets — which was an early favorite and had already been working on back-up scripts in advance of a 15-episode straight-to-series order before May’s upfronts — was originally scheduled for Sundays at 10 p.m. in the fall. Instead, FBI drama Quantico will take over the slot after ABC opted to delay Kings for midseason.
Kate Stanhope contributed to this report.
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