Life (I) (2007–2009)
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Having played no small part in shepherding in the current bromance boom, "Superbad" director Greg Mottola reverts back to the more traditional boy-meets-girl formula for this '80s comedy based on his own experience working amidst the disheveled and dispirited at a Long Island theme park. Perennially awkward Jesse Eisenberg stars as James Brennan, who, having realized a tad too late that a degree in renaissance literature was not the fastest track to six figures, resigns himself to minimum wage eternity while making
The new Wednesday night block: "Knight Rider," "Life" and the return of "Law & Order." The lineup premieres Nov. 5.
"Lipstick Jungle," which has been under-performing on Wednesday nights at 10 p.m., is shifting to Friday night starting Oct. 31 -- effectively swapping places with "Life."
Also, NBC is moving the premiere of upcoming reality show "Mommas Boys." The series will premiere after the finale of "Biggest Loser" on Dec. 16, then will move to Mondays at 9 p.m., taking over the "Heroes" time period during the action drama's winter hiatus.
"These moves will play to the shows' mutual strengths and will help us to reinforce our lineup," said NBC co-chairs Ben Silverman and Marc Graboff.
"A Wednesday night with wall-to-wall satisfying mysteries and great dramas -- paced by the return of the original 'Law & Order' to
The presentation began with a clip of Steve Carrell as The Office lead Michael Scott opining about advertising, a fitting intro to the event where NBC announced the series pickup of a long-rumored spinoff from the Emmy-winning NBC comedy. NBC's programming chief Ben Silverman said that the entire creative team of Office is behind the spinoff, but declined to give any details.
"The watermarked idea will not be shared today," he said.
Silverman fended off repeated requests to elaborate, but noted that the show's cast is so deep that there's more to be explored with the characters that aren't in a half hour or even an hour.
"You may see some of the actors on that show on the other show," he said.
The Office spinoff will premiere after the Super Bowl Feb. 1. It will then move into its regular Thursday 9:30 p.m. time slot, running behind the original Office.
As expected, NBC's returning series include veteran "ER," which will come back for a 15th and final season featuring original cast member Noah Wyle, as well as Office, which has been picked up for 28 episodes, including four one-hour episodes to air at beginning of season. Also coming back are "Law & Order: SVU," Deal or No Deal, "Law & Order," Lipstick Jungle, Medium, Friday Night Lights and Dateline.
They join previously renewed Heroes, Chuck, Life, Biggest Loser and Celebrity Apprentice.
"All of your favorites are coming back," Silverman said.
There will be no drama repeats in the 10 p.m. hour on Monday, Wednesday, Thursdays and Sunday where all series, including "ER," will air only originals. Several other dramas, including Heroes and Chuck, will also air with no repeats.
Additionally, the network Wednesday announced premiere dates for the series returning with original episodes this season.
Chuck, Life and Heroes had been picked up for a full season this season. They won't air new original episodes in the spring but will be relaunched in the fall.
"We are thrilled to be bringing back the high-energy dramas 'Chuck' and Life' for next season," NBC's Ben Silverman said.
Added Marc Graboff, "These pickups are a sign of our confidence in these quality series and will allow the respective producers to get a head start on their creative arc for next season."
Following are the premiere dates for NBC's scripted series that have been picked up for additional episodes to air in April and May:
My Name Is Earl (one-hour episode) -- April 3
30 Rock, The Office, Scrubs, ER -- April 10
Law & Order: SVU -- April 15
Law & Order -- April 23
Additionally, Medium will continue its run on Mondays.
The network has handed out back-nine orders to both dramas, which follow ABC's Dirty Sexy Money as the only rookie series to get full-season pickups since the start of the writers strike Nov. 5.
Life has shut down production because of the strike, and while Chuck remains in production, it was unclear how many scripts the series had ready before the strike began. There's still no word on pickups for NBC's other freshman dramas, Bionic Woman and Journeyman.
" 'Chuck' and 'Life' stand out in a crowded TV landscape because they are smart, well-produced series with incredibly talented casts," said Ben Silverman, co-chairman of NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios. "Both shows are hitting their stride creatively, have developed loyal audiences and offer unlimited potential to grow throughout the season."
Chuck, exec produced by Josh Schwartz and McG, stars Zachary Levi as a computer geek who is catapulted into a new career as the government's most vital secret agent.
NBC picked up three more scripts of all four of its freshman series, while CBS ordered four scripts for Cane, starring Jimmy Smits.
While it has been a growing trend during the past couple of years for the networks to hedge their bets by ordering additional scripts of new series in lieu of early full-season pickups, the extra scripts carry an additional context this year when the industry is facing a potential writers' strike.
Most of the five series are shooting episodes 8-9, with the special-effects and action-heavy Bionic, starring Michelle Ryan, a little behind. Most shows already have the scripts for the entire initial 13-episode order in the pipeline in different stages, so an early order for additional scripts might help the networks to secure a couple more finished scripts before a potential strike, especially if it begins after the Nov.
After lackluster freshman premieres so far, Wednesday produced three strong launches -- Bionic, Practice and NBC's Life, which to date rank as the top three new series among adults 18-49. Word wasn't that good for another new ABC drama, Dirty Sexy Money, which got off to a slow start.
Despite NBC's dominating performance from 9-11 p.m. with Bionic and Life, the Alphabet edged the Peacock by a tenth of a point to take its second nightly victory in the first three nights of the new TV season among the 18-49 demo. The network was bolstered by the third consecutive night of Dancing With the Stars.
CBS' Kid Nation (7.6 million viewers, 2.8 rating/8 share in adults 18-49) and Fox's Back to You (7.5 million, 2.8/9) both showed declines from last week's premieres (9.4 million, 3.1/9 and 9.5 million, 3.2/10, respectively), bowing to ABC's Dancing (16.8 million, 4.1/12).
Garret Dillahunt has joined Fox's drama The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Jennifer Siebel has come on board NBC's drama Life, Adam Rose has been added to the CW's comedy Aliens in America and Paul Schulze has been cast in NBC's drama Journeyman.
On Sarah Connor, an offshoot from the Terminator franchise, Dillahunt will play a mysterious character named Cromartie.
Dillahunt, who is finishing a four-episode arc on FX's Damages, will next be seen on the big screen in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and No Country for Old Men. He is repped by Gersh and Allman/Rea Management.
In Life, Siebel will play Jennifer Conover, the ex-wife of Charlie Crews (Damian Lewis), a former cop who has rejoined the force after being wrongly imprisoned for years.
Siebel recently booked the role of Barbie in the upcoming film April Fool's Day and is onscreen in Paul Haggis' In the Valley of Elah. She is repped by Buchwald & Associates and manager Adam Griffin of Kritzer/Levine/Wilkins Entertainment.
The deal includes such returning NBC series as The Office, Heroes and 30 Rock and new shows including Bionic Woman and Chuck.
As part of the deal, NBC Uni will offer packaged content at discounts to consumers, a major point of contention with Apple, the network said. Beginning Monday, Amazon will offer free downloads of the pilot episodes of Bionic, Chuck, Journeyman and Life.
Citing a desire to bundle content and obtain stronger piracy controls, NBC Uni decided Friday to not renew its contract with iTunes (HR 9/3). Apple said the media company wanted to charge double the wholesale price for its shows -- which NBC Uni denied -- and then said that it no longer would sell new NBC content on the platform.
Aside from these offerings, the series will be available on Unbox the day after they air on NBC.
A trend that emerged during the pilot-casting season comes into focus this week when the networks pick up their new series: Foreign actors are playing the leads on a staggering number of new dramas next season.
There have been a few here and there -- Brit Hugh Laurie of House and Australian Anthony LaPaglia of Without a Trace, both Emmy winners for their roles on the shows -- but never quite like this. It's across the board on every network, and it's massive.
Almost all new drama series with a single lead that will premiere next season -- a total of eight shows -- have a foreign actor playing the role of an American. Even two iconic Hollywood characters, Jamie Sommers of The Bionic Woman and Sarah Connor of the Terminator franchise, will be played by British actresses Michelle Ryan and Lena Headey, respectively.
NBC picked up five one-hour series for next season, the ensemble dramedy Lipstick Jungle, the action comedy Chuck and a trio of single-lead dramas, Bionic Woman, Journeyman and Life, all three of which are toplined by British actors: Ryan, Rome star Kevin McKidd and Band of Brothers star Damian Lewis, respectively.
NBC Entertainment president Kevin Reilly, who compared Lewis to Laurie at the network's press conference Monday, had been joking that NBC should be nominated for BAFTAs, the British TV awards.
For the first time in almost 30 years, NBC won't have a new comedy series on its fall schedule. And, in a hint of the new direction the broadcast networks will be taking in the face of audience demand for as many originals of their favorite series as possible, NBC's top comedies The Office and My Name Is Earl will produce 30 and 28 episodes, respectively, next season.
NBC is set to unveil its fall schedule today in New York following down-to-the-wire negotiations that secured the return of two veteran NBC series -- drama Law & Order and comedy Scrubs -- both of which had had potential suitors, TNT and ABC, respectively. "L&O" has been picked up for 22 episodes, Scrubs for 18.
It's been an across-the-board retreat from comedy this pickup season, with only a few new half-hour projects getting series orders by the networks. NBC ended up ordering only one new comedy series, The IT Crowd, which is said to have received a six-episode order for midseason. Also rumored for midseason is newly greenlighted dramedy Lipstick Jungle.
Crowd and Lipstick join four other hourlong projects that NBC picked up to series Thursday: The Bionic Woman, Chuck, Journeyman and Life (HR 5/11).
Additionally, sources said ABC is close to a 13-episode order for the midseason comedy Notes From the Underbelly, and CBS is close to bringing back the midseason comedy Rules of Engagement and the sophomore sitcom The New Adventures of Old Christine.
Talks are said to continue about ABC possibly picking up eight to nine more episodes of its well-received but low-rated comedy The Knights of Prosperity, featuring Donal Logue and company trying to rob Ray Romano (HR 5/10). Romano appeared at the end of the last aired episode of Knights. He also is featured in the remaining three episodes of the show's first season, which have not aired.
All four newly picked up NBC drama series were given permission to begin staffing last week (HR 5/8).
Bionic, from NBC Universal TV Studio, is a re-imagination of the 1970s series. David Eick, Jason Smilovic and director Michael Dinner exec produced the pilot starring Michelle Ryan, with Glen Morgan joining the series as exec producer.
Chuck, from Warner Bros. TV, is a dramedy starring Zachary Levi as a computer geek working as a spy.
Sarah Shahi also has been cast in the project, from writer/executive producer Rand Ravich and NBC Universal TV Studio.
Life is a quirky drama about a former cop (Lewis) who rejoins the force after having spent years wrongly imprisoned. Shahi will play his partner with a checkered past.
David Semel is directing the pilot and is executive producing with Ravich and Far Shariat.
Lewis, who received a Golden Globe nomination for his role in the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers, recently appeared in the features An Unfinished Life, Chromophobia and Stormbaker. He is repped by Endeavor.
Shahi, who played Carmen de la Pica Morales on Showtime's The L Word, co-starred on Fox's drama pilot Damages this past development season. She most recently appeared in the feature For Your Consideration. She is repped by McKeon-Myones Management and attorney Neil Meyer.
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