After rumors of an overhaul, ABC’s V gets a shortened rollout. Is the network scared of aliens?
ABC has decided to break up the rollout of V, the network’s much-anticipated reboot of the classic NBC miniseries. It was first announced that the drama — about an alien race that comes to Earth, starring Lost’s Elizabeth Mitchell and Party of Five’s Scott Wolf — would bow on Nov. 3. Now the plan is to run only four episodes that month and hold off on airing future installments until after the Winter Olympics in March. News of the show’s unique debut comes amid rampant speculation that the high-concept series is undergoing a serious overhaul; it’s widely believed that Warner Bros. Television shut down production for several weeks early last month and made staff changes in the writers’ room because ABC is worried the show could have limited appeal. (One rumor making the rounds in the industry: The V characters aren’t even allowed to use the word alien to describe the visitors that arrive via spaceships.) A network spokeswoman insisted that wasn’t the case, but declined to comment further. Still, any worries about the viability of sci-fi shows these days are certainly warranted — two of the most prominent, Fox dramas Fringe and Dollhouse, are showing double-digit drops in viewers this season. A network like ABC, which appeals to a broad audience with character-driven dramas like Desperate Housewives, can’t exactly afford to program a niche performer. ”It’s about trying to find the right balance,” said one ABC insider. Not everyone is convinced that the Big Four nets should run scared from the sci-fi biz. ”There’s not going to be a [sci-fi] show that pulls in 20 million viewers,” cautions Shari Anne Brill, a senior VP in charge of programming and audience analysis at media-buying firm Carat. ”But I absolutely think there is a place for them. If there’s good mythology and good storytelling, they can be done.”
— Lynette Rice
Jamie Foxx joins Robert Downey Jr. in a new comedy from the Hangover director
Jamie Foxx is joining his Soloist costar Robert Downey Jr. in the cast of Due Date, the latest comedy from The Hangover director Todd Phillips. It stars Downey and Zach Galifianakis as two unlikely travel companions racing cross-country to get home in time for the birth of Downey’s character’s first child. Foxx will play an old friend who helps the duo on their way to Los Angeles. The likely R-rated comedy is shooting now on location in various spots around the country. Its studio, Warner Bros., hopes to release the film next summer, in an effort to re-create The Hangover’s smash box office success.
— Nicole Sperling