Entertainment

TV midseason forecasts and reflections

A steady stream of bits and tweets came out of the semi-annual Television Critics Association winter press tour this week.

And, if you were a fan of shows on NBC, not much of it was good.

Here’s a network-by-network roundup of what was announced, previewed and confessed:

No laughing at ABC

• “Cougar Town” creator Bill Lawrence said his anger at ABC for keeping the show off the midseason schedule was a 4 on a scale of 1 to 10.

“But if they cancel the show,” Lawrence said, “it will be an 11.”

ABC entertainment chief Paul Lee said he empathized with Lawrence.

“I used to be Bill, when I used to be sort of a pirate show-runner,” Lee said. “He does such a good job of getting his audience excited. He’s the pirate, and I’m the Navy, in this case. I miss being on the pirate ship.”

The show is tentatively scheduled to return in March.

• Nobody misses the comedy laugh track. At least that’s the consensus among creators of ABC’s “Modern Family,” “Suburgatory” and “The Middle,” all of which don’t have a laugh track.

“There was a time when the laugh track was reassuring and helped people understand when to laugh,” said “Suburgatory” creator Emily Kapnek, “and I almost feel the opposite now and it winds up feeling a little bit oppressive.”

• “Modern Family” creator Steven Levitan said he has been surprised by how much audiences love Cam and Mitchell (played by Eric Stonestreet and Jesse Tyler Ferguson).

“When you make it personal and show the people have good hearts and are extremely committed, loving parents, it’s hard not to love them,” Levitan said.

• With the soap opera “One Life to Live” ending this week, the clock now seems to be ticking on “General Hospital.”

“I’m a fan of ‘General Hospital,’ ” Lee said, “but we haven’t made a decision, and we don’t really have a time frame on it.”

• “Desperate Housewives” creator Marc Cherry said there will be no rumored movie spin-off.

Fox gets more animated

• While the network has canceled “Allen Gregory,” Fox soon will air a block of animated shows against NBC’s “Saturday Night Live.” It will be available online, through cable on demand, as mobile applications and on game consoles, and it’s somewhat experimental, said entertainment president Kevin Reilly.

• No decision has been made on the futures of “House,” “Bones,” “Terra Nova” and “Fringe.”

Reilly praised the producers of “Fringe” for helping Fox drum up some interest in its Friday night schedule. But he noted the show is expensive to produce, and at its current ratings, it’s a money-loser for the network.

“Please don’t start the letter-writing campaign right now,” Reilly said. “I can’t take that.”

• Ryan Seacrest sort of answered questions of whether he will return to “American Idol” after his contract expires this spring.

“I can’t imagine life without ‘American Idol,’ ” he said.

Or, we suppose, the $15 million the Hollywood Reporter says he earns each season from the show.

• “So You Think You Can Dance” will trim back to one two-hour episode once a week, with the results layered within the episode.

• “Glee” will return next year, but there will be no “Glee” spin-off following graduates, said creator Ryan Murphy.

CBS: Too raunchy?

• CBS entertainment president Nina Tassler defended the broad humor and ethnic stereotypes of shows such as “2 Broke Girls.”

“Their dialogue is really landing with audiences,” she told

TheWrap.com

. “The shows are laugh-out-loud funny. I laugh out loud. It’s not a snicker, it’s not a chuckle. They’re belly laughs.”

• Creator Mark Roberts was asked how “Mike Molly” might change when Billy Gardell’s and Melissa McCarthy’s characters get hitched this May.

“They’re going to start adopting a crazy amount of children of different ethnicities,” he joked. “We’re going to do a Brad and Angelina.”

• Ashton Kutcher’s return to “Two and a Half Men” isn’t a lock, apparently, though Kutcher said he’d like to return.

• Elisabeth Shue is replacing Marg Helgenberger on “CSI,” and Tassler is pleased with what she has seen so far.

“We’ve seen the early dailies with Elisabeth Shue and Ted Danson,” Tassler said. “And they have great chemistry together.”

NBC’s awful autumn

• NBC entertainment president Bob Greenblatt stated the obvious at the fourth-place network’s presentation.

“We had a really bad fall,” he said. “Worse than I’d hoped for but actually about what I expected.”

Ratings were down 11 percent across the board, but Greenblatt said the low ratings of Maria Bello’s “Prime Suspect” were especially disappointing.

Greenblatt said if “Prime” had aired on his former network, Showtime, it would have been picked up and renewed after the third episode and declared a hit, and it would be in production for three or four seasons.

“Maybe I should just blame the hat and move on?” he said.

• “Community” fans can mildly rejoice: The show, which was yanked in the fall, will return, Greenblatt said, though no date was given, and Greenblatt wouldn’t commit to a fourth season.

• NBC will start streaming the pilot of its Broadway drama “Smash” on Jan. 23, three weeks before it debuts on the network. It will be available as a download on iTunes, Amazon, XBox Live, the PlayStation Network and Vudu, as well as OnDemand. Fox followed a similar track with its hit “New Girl.”

New on HBO

• “Veep,” in which Julia-Louis Dreyfus plays the vice president of the United States, is scheduled to start April 22.

• “Game Change,” a film starring Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin, debuts March 10.

• Danny McBride’s “Eastbound Down” returns for its third season Feb. 19.

• The hit “Game of Thrones” is scheduled to start its second season April 15.

Returning to Showtime

• “Weeds” creator Jenji Kohan said “it’s a real possibility” that the next season, premiering this summer, could be its last.

• “Nurse Jackie,” “The Big C” and “The Borgias” all will return April 8.

• Showtime also is working on the documentary “The World According to Dick Cheney,” which will cover the former vice president’s career, beginning with his days as President Gerald Ford’s 34-year-old chief of staff.

Other news

• Starz has ordered a series based on 13th century explorer Marco Polo. Production is set to begin in 2013.

• The team that wrote the baffling “Green Lantern” movie is taking on the DC Universe’s Green Arrow as a pilot for the CW. You may remember the emerald archer from the comics or from Justin Hartley’s character on “Smallville.”

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