Saturday, May 13, 2017

LAST MAN STANDING and 2 BROKE GIRLS cancelled

As the networks get closer to announcing their Falls schedules, things are starting to come into focus. Pilots are being ordered, and bubble shows are either getting last minute reprieves or cancellations.

Most of the cancellations are expected. DR. KEN, IMAGINARY MARY (dear God), THE REAL O’NEALS, SON OF ZORN (dear God again), APB, MAKING HISTORY, PITCH, NO TOMORROW (they were asking for it with that title), POWERLESS, and a number of others. And if you’re not reading this until Monday that number has probably grown.

Two cancellations were somewhat surprising because they were both established hits and performing relatively well. LAST MAN STANDING and 2 BROKE GIRLS. I obviously don’t mourn the loss of the latter, but it tells you something about the business when successful series get cancelled while less successful series get picked up.

And it can all be explained in one word: ownership.

2 BROKE GIRLS is owned by Warner Brothers, LAST MAN STANDING is owned by 20th Century Fox. If they were owned by CBS and ABC respectively they would both be on the schedule.

And by the way, don’t cry for either of those shows. They’re both doing fantastic in syndication and both bringing in scads of cash for their studios.

But as the seasons pile up so do the costs to produce those series. Actor salaries rise, as do the above-the-line players (writers, directors, producers, and those managers and former executives who attach themselves to these projects and take a cut despite doing nothing).

Networks negotiate with studios on what their license fees will be (networks pay a license fee to the production company/studio in exchange for two airings of the show. If the show costs more to produce the studio pays the overage. Studios lose money on most shows. But a home run like THE BIG BANG THEORY can erase all of that and more.

So networks don’t want to pay big bucks to studios when they can’t participate in future profits. And big studios reach a point where production costs get so high that even in syndication it doesn’t seem worth it. Especially if a network now wants a cut. If studios already have a hundred episodes, how much more important is it to have a hundred and twenty?

So the negotiations get tough. The studios bank on the network’s need for the show and the network banks on the studio’s desire to have more episodes in syndication. It’s a game of chicken and sometimes it goes either way.

In the case of 2 BROKE GIRLS and LAST MAN STANDING the deals fell apart.

But if you’re fans of those two shows, just wait. If ROSEANNE and WILL & GRACE are any indication, they can just come back in two years as reboots and there will be a bidding war for them.

37 comments :

VP81955 said...

As I've previously stated, I'm no fan of "2BG," but I feel bad for Garrett Morris, the member of the original "SNL" cast with the least post-series success. A big comedown from Chico Escuela.

Brad Apling said...

It seems that bringing a TV show to the tube is complicated and getting more so in respect to, say, 30 years ago (which really isn't that long ago). So, it begs the question: Is there any encouragement for new writers to pursue the TV industry or is it a matter of numbers [some live, some die so might as well keep writing and trying]?

John said...

On "Chicago Med" they introduced a new character who is meant to be an arrogant foil for the current surgeon. Surprised they haven't slept together yet. Anyway.... I laughed pretty hard when they introduced her:

Dr. Becker.

So whaddaya think? Coincidence or Homage?

MikeN said...

I was surprised to see Jay Leno in Last Man Standing. Had never heard about it.

Curt Alliaume said...

Both Last Man Standing and 2 Broke Girls have their fans - I have Facebook friends wailing about the cancellations this morning (the former because they were genuine fans, the latter because there's an unresolved cliffhanger) - but I can't say these were huge shockers. And, as you note, they've been on awhile and costs are going up.

The Will and Grace revival (I can't call it a reboot given it's the exact same actors and producers) seems to be a definite go, but I'll believe the Roseanne revival when I see it. In 2011 the industry was all abuzz with both a new Roseanne Barr sitcom for NBC and a Roseanne reality show, Roseanne's Nuts. The sitcom never made it past the pilot and the reality show, after a solid debut, quickly went downhill and was cancelled after one year. It's six years later - are we more interested in Roseanne Barr now than we were then?

MikeN said...

Ken, they made a deal with the same studio to extend Modern Family. Why isn't their #2 rated comedy worth the same?

Terrence Moss said...

What do you consider to be "post series success"? And do you know EVERYTHING he has done since 1980?

Wendy M. Grossman said...

In all this it's nice to note that THE BIG BANG THEORY main cast each took a $100,000 pay cut to free up more money to give Mayim Byalik and Melissa Rauch very well-deserved raises.

wg

Shane said...

Ken, you have said so many times how you hate 2 Broke Girls. Why not a post talking of all the sitcoms you hate? Something like your snarky Oscar review.

A purging post listing every show you hate and getting it out of your system. Will be fun for all, with all the readers chipping-in their list :)

Sandra said...

Ken, where's my post you said you will post later this week :(

http://kenlevine.blogspot.in/2017/05/some-thoughts-on-rewriting.html

Arthur Mee said...

Further to VP81955, above: Garrett Morris has actually done pretty well in terms of steady work: 6 seasons on 2 Broke Girls, a couple of seasons on Martin, a few seasons on The Jamie Foxx Show, a season on Roc, lots of guest roles....

A *lot* of actors would be extremely happy to have had a career like Garrett's. Maybe there's not a lot of starring ventures there, but he's consistently made a living on some reasonably medium-to-high-profile shows.

I think you'd have to go with Laraine Newman as having the lowest profile post-SNL career of the original SNL cast....although she's done a *ton* of voice work, and works steadily as well.

Ken Levine said...

Sandra,

I posted it last Wednesday. Scroll down to find it.

RMK said...

Upthread: the latter because there's an unresolved cliffhanger

That's ballsy of the 2BG producers to have a cliffhanger in Season 6. Haven't watched in years... can I just guess?

No, she's not pregnant.
Darn. The STD is un-curable.
If it's a proposal, he reneges.
There was ebola in that last cupcake batch. They're all dead anyway.
Can anyone tell me if the final season, last joke was a "vagina" joke? That would just be a perfect ending.

Sandra said...

Ooops :) sorry I missed it. Thanks a lot Ken.

Jerod Butt said...

Amazon's BOSCH has a criminal with an alias of Big Wave Dave...

Phil said...

Ha Ha someone looking forward to their question being answered missed it..... Ha Ha Haaaaa

In that list one small addition Ken. SWIMMING WITH SHARKS is modeled on Scott Rudin.
Here's the list: http://www.indiewire.com/2016/02/22-essential-films-about-hollywood-272592/
which says so...

But in that list and all comments no one I think spoke of "Maps to the stars". Here is an advice to all who are reading this comment - NEVER in your life see that shit. NEVER EVER. Its dark, horrible fucked up Hollywood-people movie about incest and such..... You will be scarred for life.... and acting in that.... who else but screwed up bitch Julianne Moore and phlegm-star John Cusack. Sick sick movie... sick sick Hollywood.



Myles Warden said...

Garrett has worked as consistently as just about anyone in this town. Something tells me you never saw The Jamie Foxx show or realize it's still playing all the time in syndication. "Martin" too. Those residuals alone are enough to pay the bills for anyone making comments on this post. "Roc" before then. Countless series roles and movie guest spots. His IMDB would be goals for any actor. I'd actually challenge anyone to say who has been a main character or recurring on more hit series still in syndication than Garrett.

powers said...

I just read,Ken,of that rarest of rare phenomena:a network reversing its cancellation decision.The NBC sci-fi show "Timeless"was reported cancelled only a few days ago.

Eric Kripke who is a co-creator of the series announced on Twitter that NBC has now ordered 10 episodes for next summer.

Wonder how that all came about?

Glenn said...

Last Man Standing had good writing and a great cast. I hope it finds a home somewhere else.

Jeff :) said...

My condolences Ken on the cancellation of 2 Broke Girls. If there's anything we can do for you during this difficult time of grieving please let us know. :D

thirteen said...

I see that NBC un-cancelled Timeless this morning. Owned by Sony. Reports are that the studio is going to accept a much lower fee for it. That sounds like a more plausible reason than angry fan reaction, even if William Shatner was one of the fans.

VP81955 said...

BTW, NBC announced it's "uncanceling" its series "Timeless," which will return for 10 more episodes following its reported demise earlier this week -- a move decried on social media.

Vonni said...

So, CBS aside, single-camera comedies have taken over again (there are no new multi-cams picked up this year among the few that were in development anyway if I'm not mistaken).

brian t said...

I just watched the Season 4 finale of Mom, and (spoiler alert) that had a kind-of "closure" feel to it, with no unresolved cliffhangers, and I had to go and check whether it had been renewed. It has, so I just hope it can keep on being as good.

Mark said...

To me the suprise about LAST MAN STANDING is that it was still on. I had no idea! I liked it better in the first season anyway. Then it seemed like a fun family comedy. Derivitave but charming. I lost interest when they decided to make it into ALL IN THE FAMILY. The political zingers always seemed forced to me and were not funny. I stopped watching.

Anonymous said...

If they are cancelling Last Man Standing due to political cracks, maybe they should cancel Saturday Night Live.

VP81955 said...

With luck, "Mom" will get the call for a sixth season (and more). After all, in a just universe, it should last at least as long as "2 Broke Girls."

Jason Roberts said...

Myles Warden,

"Those residuals alone are enough to pay the bills for anyone making comments on this post."

Just a couple of thoughts that might also be interesting to the other readers:

You would be surprised to learn that residuals aren't always what people think. While syndication started in the 30's in radio. It didn't really affect TV until later. In fact TV series residuals weren't put into effect until the mid to late 70's and not to the degree you would imagine.

I think actors and their agents received 20% of the payments that were paid to the Producing company and that 20% was split amongst all the actors that appeared on the show. It was a sliding scale depending on how many episodes they appeared in and their original deal with the producers. Now factor in the 10% to their agents and whatever percentage (another 5%) to any business managers and attorneys that are part of their team. Then don't forget those are off the top gross, which the actor is taxed at. So that formula minus the government taxes and you have about 30 cents on the dollar.

Also back then there were no significant after market deals being made for many (if any) of those shows at that time. I remember hearing at some point that Rick Schroder's agents on the behest of his mother made a deal that incorporated a larger residual points deal on Silver Spoons. No one on the producing side thought much of it since their wasn't any precedent for large syndication deals. So once that show went past a hundred episodes (An early benchmark for syndication) Ricky and his mom and agents saw a large payout. At that time it was the exception, but everyone took note.

I say all this as someone who gets residuals on the work that I do. Although mine come from the DGA side of things. Having worked on some very large scale projects I too would have thought that the residuals would have been something that could have me laughing into my retirement, but alas it is really not the case. I do appreciate getting them and it sometimes does feel like found money.

I'm sure Ken could correct a bit of what I am saying from his point of view. My main point is that 99.9% of the time (Friends and Big Bang casts aside) you would have to be someone in more of a profit sharing capacity to really make a difference.

Thomas Anderson said...

So Hector Elizondo can retire now, right?

Dayhew said...

I hate to say it but this is the minor leagues, I have never heard of these shows, no one I know watches them. I understand you made you television career by shooting, writing, and directing 3 camera comedy. Cheers can't hold a candle to Silicon Valley. Mary Tyler More hasn't got s thing on VEEP. Charm possibly, but not laughs and plot twists. Seinfeld is the single network show that influences modern cable TV. The rest of Network sitcom, is like comparing I dream of jeanie to All inThe Family. Big Bang seriously SUCKS!! Who cares if these dumb sitcoms get canceled? (Besideds the employed. That is not a joke.)

Ken Levine said...

I also did MASH, which some consider a fairly decent single-camera comedy.

Myles Warden said...

I'm a fan of all these shows. Cheers is iconic and Silicon clever in it's own way. MTM a legend and paved the way for the Julia Louise Dreyfus' and Tina Fey's of the world. You can enjoy both kinds of comedy. Single cam snobs are the WORST. Funny is funny. Great writing is great writing. Also, to say "no one has heard of these shows" and then mention a show like Silicon Valley which is on a premium channel most people don't even have and the ratings would result in instant cancellation on CBS is LAUGHABLE. Has to be a joke.

Myles Warden said...

You were the main director on large scale TV shows and your residuals aren't what you thought they'd be? Are these projects you did playing around the clock like Jamie Foxx, 2 Broke Girls, Martin, etc? I know all about writing residuals and a little about actor's but not much about DGA and without knowing what you did on which projects I don't have a point of reference for this convo. Would love more info. Since 2 Broke Girls had a record syndication deal and he was in every episode I'd think he does OK from those alone. Jamie Foxx is on tv non stop. As is Martin. Not a ton of people in the comments and I said bills not rent. Push came to shove I bet he could pull it off for a month. Lol.

Dayhew said...

I had no intention to really deride MTM or Cheers, I love them both tremendously. I have DVDs of some seasons, as I do MASH. Being 55, that is what I grew into an adult watching. My main point is I have not seen a decent network sitcom since the 90's. There was a recent article asking why anyone would get into radio now, a medium that had some charm and legitimacy decades ago. Over air sitcoms could be asked the same question.

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

DAYHEW: said, "I had no intention to really deride MTM or Cheers"

If this wasn't your intention then you need to reread what you write before you hit, "send", since you did a pretty good job of deriding both shows.


You say you haven't seen a decent sitcom since the 1990s, then you've missed out on some good ones.
Maybe try MOM on CBS, which is probably the best one currently playing.
Or step into the past with Arrested Development, How I met your mother (stop before the last episode), Louie, Modern Family, The Office.

Then again, Perhaps sitcoms are not your thing.


The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

KEN, so Tim Allen went on Twitter today and said, "Stunned and blindsided by the network I called home for the last six years. "

We all know it's business, and its about money, but why would ABC burn a bridge, especially of an A List Star like Tim Allen? Why not be upfront, etc, and at least giving him some bullshit, rather than blindside him?

The Next time he or someone else has a product to share, ABC won't be their first choice.

Paul Duca said...

Tim Allen has a supporter...Wisconsin governor Scott Walker says ABC cancelled his show because Allen is a conservative
(forgetting they renewed THE MIDDLE, starring the equally conservative Patricia Heaton)