May 14, 2012
Networks beef up on star power
By Kevin Williamson, QMI Agency
It's all over but for the crying. Or, if you're David Caruso, the squinting and the rasping.
This week the U.S. broadcast networks are burying their dead (including CSI: Miami) and trumpeting the next batch of hopeful additions to their fall schedules.
Meanwhile, on-the-bubble shows whose fates had been uncertain until now have been axed or renewed. (Good news -- inexplicably -- for Whitney, not so much Unforgettable.)
But will next season be any different than last season or the one before it?
Sometimes, as the networks tend to prove every year, the best thing about a cleanse is that it excuses you to repeat all the same mistakes again. Among the things underscored by news out of the so-called upfronts:
Movie stars will always have TV to fall back on
It's a marriage of convenience. For film actors, the future is grim as theatres are gobbled up by special effects, superheroes and marauding robots. The networks, meanwhile, need all the star power they can muster to compete in a multi-platform landscape. So while there may be no trace left of Ashley Judd's Missing, that hasn't prevented orders for The Following (a serial killer thriller starring Kevin Bacon), Elementary (a Sherlock Holmes remake with Lucy Liu as Watson) or Vegas (with Dennis Quaid).
Prequels, remakes and superheroes aren't just for the big screen
With an eye toward replacing Smallville, the CW has picked up Arrow, an adaptation of DC Comics' Green Arrow. The CW is also home to The Carrie Diaries, a prequel to Sex and the City with AnnaSophia Robb, and Beauty and the Beast, a reboot of the 1980s drama. Meanwhile, NBC is developing Hannibal for mid-season. It's a prequel to The Silence of the Lambs, about the relationship between psycho extraordinaire Hannibal Lecter and FBI profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy). No word yet on who will portray Lecter (and replace Anthony Hopkins).
Audiences tend not to reward ambition
Terra Nova and Alcatraz were both cancelled by Fox, despite being produced by, in order, Steven Spielberg and J.J. Abrams. Also cut loose? The complex The Ringer and Awake. Nevertheless, there are new dramas with scope, including The Last Resort, about a nuclear submarine crew that declares themselves a nation, Zero Hour, with Anthony Edwards unraveling a conspiracy, and Abrams' own Revolution, about what happens when the world runs out of energy.
The networks appreciate a good laugh
At a time when Whitney gets renewed, you know it's a sweet time to be a sitcom. Among newcomers: Matthew Perry -- he doesn't give up, does he? -- will play a sportscaster on NBC's Go On. NBC also adds Animal Practice, about a veterinarian, to its line-up along with the man-child-centric comedy Guys With Kids. At CBS, Christopher Mintz-Plasse (a.k.a. McLovin) stars in the social media-centric Friend Me. And on ABC, Sarah Chalke anchors How to Live With Your Parents for the Rest of Your Life about a divorced mother who moves back home.
Among series axed:
A Gifted Man
The Secret Circle
Are You There, Chelsea?
I Hate My Teenage Daughter