Cable favorite Younger could be the next series to become a TV franchise.
Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that ViacomCBS — which owns the TV Land comedy — is teaming with creator Darren Star to develop a spinoff of the veteran comedy starring Sutton Foster. Unlike the flagship series, the potential offshoot would be built around Foster’s co-star, Hilary Duff.
A network for the Duff-led Younger spinoff has not yet been determined, and it’s unclear if the pilot, which has not yet been scripted or filmed, could air as a planted episode of the comedy’s previously announced seventh season. Sources say that ViacomCBS — which owns Younger alongside Jax Media — could bring the series to Paramount Network, where Younger was briefly poised to move — or shop it elsewhere. The series is technically produced in-house via ViacomCBS’ internal MTV Studios, which since launching in June 2018, has been focused on mining its vault of IP and serving as a content supplier for third-party outlets. Such is now the case with the Star-produced half-hour comedy series Emily in Paris. The Lily Collins starrer was poised to debut last summer on ViacomCBS-owned basic cabler Paramount Network and is now on the verge of being sold off to Netflix, sources confirm to The Hollywood Reporter.
Representatives for ViacomCBS and Netflix declined comment.
The news arrives amid a period of change for ViacomCBS. The conglomerate, which like many similarly positioned companies in Hollywood, recently underwent a round of layoffs amid a larger cost-cutting move under CEO Bob Bakish. After changing and consolidating executive ranks among all of its basic cable networks, ViacomCBS is now merging its four “branded groups” into one unified organization under Chris McCarthy, who oversees Paramount Network, Comedy Central, TV Land, MTV, VH1, Logo, CMT and Smithsonian Channel. The executive, in a April 29 memo to staff, stressed that the changes are part of a shift from cable to content and from strong siloed brands to one “powerful” entertainment portfolio.
Younger has been a critical darling for TV Land, where it is the niche cabler’s lone scripted original. Season six of the series was the highest-rated cable sitcom among women 25-54 and women 18-49.
Since McCarthy launched MTV Studios nearly two years ago, the ViacomCBS internal studio has sold series including a reboot of The Real World to Facebook Watch and an update of Reno 911 to the shortform platform Quibi. Emily in Paris would follow that same strategy, with the sale to Netflix likely to bring in additional revenue to the larger portfolio. In a crowded landscape with more than 500 scripted originals competing for attention, marketing and promoting them is a pricey endeavor for often little payoff because it remains challenging for linear networks to cut through the clutter as viewers increasingly cut the cable cord and shift to streaming.
It’s worth noting that Paramount Network, even with the loss of Emily in Paris and, potentially the Younger spinoff, is not scaling back on its plans for originals. The general entertainment network has the upcoming third season of Kevin Costner’s cable mega-hit Yellowstone (due in June) and a slate that also includes the fellow Taylor Sheridan drama Mayor of Kingstown, the Michael Chiklis-led entry Coyote, Josh Hartnett in Paradise Lost (a co-production with Spectrum Originals) and the Ron Howard-produced 68 Whiskey, which wrapped its first season in March. The cabler remains an active buyer for scripted originals that, like Yellowstone, are broad dramas with big stars at the center. Sources say Sheridan, who has a sizable overall deal with the larger ViacomCBS, is developing multiple projects both for in-house and third-party buyers.
Additionally, sources note that ViacomCBS is poised to bring in an executive to oversee original scripted movies for the larger portfolio, with an announcement expected to come in the next few weeks.
Duff, meanwhile, has starred as book editor Kelsey on TV Land’s Younger since its pilot. The singer and actress was in early production on a revival of her beloved Disney Channel series Lizzie McGuire when production was shut down amid creative differences that led to the dismissal of series creator and showrunner Terri Minsky. A search remains underway for new writers to take over the stalled show, and Duff has urged Disney execs to move it to fellow streamer Hulu so that it can lean into its more adult themes.
Vulture was first to report the Emily in Paris Netflix news.