TV Talk

The 5 Biggest Developments from This Week's TV Upfronts

by | May 14, 2015 | Comments

Every May, the networks host their upfront presentations for advertisers in New York City, revealing trailers for new shows, changes to the schedules, and bad news for the shows that won’t be coming back in the fall. We’ve been following the updates out of New York and have a round-up of the biggest developments to come out of upftonts week.

ABC’s New Muppets Series Will Be About a Late-Night Talk Show

ABC’s upcoming show The Muppets inspired both delight and panic on Tuesday as the news spread across the internet — sure, everyone loves the Muppets, but some are worried their beloved characters will be radically modernized. According to an interview with in Vulture this week with producers Bill Prady and Bob Kushell, the plan is for the Muppets to stay the same characters fans have always loved, but also reflect the current culture. “The Muppet Show was a variety show [in the ’70s] because when it was on, that was the dominant form of television,” said Prady. Now, The Muppets will move away from the variety format and into the world of late-night talk shows. Miss Piggy will host the show-within-a-show and Kermit will be the executive producer, caught between Miss Piggy and the network. To further lampoon current television, The Muppets will look like a mockumentary, a style made popular by The Office and Modern Family, and most recently used in FX’s The Comedians. “The staff you’ll see working on the show,” Prady said, “some are human, some are bears and frogs. And no one seems to notice.” The Muppets will premiere on ABC Tuesdays at 8 p.m. this fall.

CBS Will End CSI With a Two-Hour Movie

After 15 seasons, CBS officially cancelled CSI, its long-running procedural that spawned CSI: New York, CSI: Cyber, and CSI: Miami. CBS has decided to conclude the flagship series of its billion dollar franchise with a two-hour movie, airing on Sept. 27. Back in January, CSI creator Anthony Zuiker told reporters that he would be disappointed if the show ended after the 15th season finale. “I think CSI should go as long as it wants to go,” Zuiker said. “I feel like we have such amazing talent with Ted Danson and Elisabeth Shue that it hopefully goes for a long, long time.” Original series stars William Petersen and Marg Helgenberger will return for the movie, which promises to wrap up the cliffhanger of season 15. Danson, who is currently in production for Fargo season two, will move to CSI: Cyber, starring Patricia Arquette

Fox Is Splitting Empire Into Two Half Seasons

There’s no denying that Empire, Fox’s hip-hop family drama from Lee Daniels, was one of the biggest hits of the new year. So it’s not surprising that Fox wants to milk Empire‘s success for all it can, including splitting season two into two halves. Fox will also add more episodes of Empire to season two overall and, instead of premiering in January, the first batch of Empire will drop this fall on Wednesday nights. Fox chairman and CEO Dana Walden teased live events this summer a la Glee, plus new guest stars in season two. “We’ve got amazing guest stars that have lined up to be on the show that will help us not only bring back an audience that fell in love with the show, but help expand it as well,” Waldern said. Additionally, musical artist Ne-Yo has been tapped to write new original music with Timbaland for season two. And speaking of music, Fox also cancelled American Idol; the upcoming 15th season will be its last.

NBC Dumps Nearly All of Its Comedies

Long associated with TV’s most popular sitcoms — Cheers, Seinfeld, The Cosby Show, Friends, The Office — NBC shocked the industry during its upfront presentation Monday by announcing that its fall line-up would include only one hour of comedy on Friday nights, thereby cancelling About a Boy, Marry Me, and One Big Happy. The peacock network announced the return of Undateable and the premiere of People Are Talking, a sitcom about two couples who live next door to each other. According to Entertainment Weekly, NBC entertainment president Jennifer Salke said, “I don’t think it’s any surprise or secret that it’s been hard for us to launch comedy, and we were turning over all the stones.” Instead, NBC is moving into a more serious direction, with nine new dramas on the fall programming schedule. That’s not to say that NBC is abandoning the funny stuff completely. They’re still holding some comedies for the mid-season slate, including the Coach reboot, starring Craig T. Nelson.

CW President Discusses the Futures of The Vampire Diaries and Supernatural

According reporters who attended CW’s upfront presentation Thursday, network president Mark Pedowitz seemed confident, and with good reason: viewing is up 12 percent for the season; programming is popular with the coveted young male demographic; and new shows Jane the Virgin and The Flash are critical darlings. When asked about the future of The Vampire Diaries following the exit of star Nina Dobrev, Pedowitz shared that the series will focus more on the characters of Damon (Ian Somerhalder) and Stefan (Paul Wesley). “We had a show run for 11 years based on two brothers called Supernatural,” Pedowitz said. “I have great confidence that this could happen the same way.” Pedowitz also commented on Supernatural‘s future, insisting that the network plans to keep the long-running series on the air past its 11th season. As for a Supernatural spinoff, Pedowitz said that conversations on that will resume in June.