TV Q&A: 'Modern Family,' 'Younger,' 'Manhunt: Deadly Games,' 'Survivor' and local TV news

Wednesday, 13 May 2020 05:06 PM Written by 

Q: Is there any way to find out how long Spectrum Originals will keep filmed-in-Pittsburgh “Manhunt: Deadly Games” exclusive to their Spectrum cable customers and if there is another cable buyer that will show it later?


Rob: We reported last year that Spectrum Originals has a nine-month exclusivity window on their shows and after that the owner of the show can re-sell it elsewhere for a second window.

With “Manhunt: Deadly Games” debuting in February, that suggests owner Lionsgate could sell the show in a second window as early as November. (It’s unclear if that’s nine months from the debut of the first episode in a season or the debut date for the last episode in a season.)

With this week’s announcement that Fox will air Spectrum’s “L.A.’s Finest” this fall – the first season of that show debuted in summer 2019 – it seems to increase the odds that some outlet will pick up the second window of “Manhunt,” perhaps even a broadcaster. And it’s possible, through negotiations, that Spectrum might allow the show to appear elsewhere sooner since everything in our pandemic world seems to be open to renegotiation.

I’ve e-mailed my Lionsgate contacts several times this week requesting an update on the state of a second window sale for “Manhunt” and they have not responded, which may also suggest gears are turning behind the scenes.



Q: Since “Big Brother” is pretty much a game about being quarantined don’t you think this is the perfect summer for it? Just test everyone, throw them in the house and continue to monitor them every day. What are your thoughts?


Rob: My understanding is CBS still plans to move forward with “Big Brother” when network executives feel the time is right. The question is when and what variables constitute the right timing, the health crisis or CBS’s schedule needs or both?

I do think Bill is correct: You could quarantine players for 14 days before they enter the house. Do the same with the production crew (who would then have to remain quarantined for the duration of the show’s production). Have frequent fever and coronavirus tests (if the production can acquire such tests) and you’ve got yourself a show once the state of the California stay-at-home order is relaxed to the point that this can be accomplished.

What I’m wondering at the moment is if CBS is debating whether to put such a thing on in the summer or hold it for fall since it seems unlikely the network will have original episodes of scripted programming then. At the moment, I suspect network execs are leaning toward the latter.



Q: Will “An American Pickle” air on HBO later this month?

Rob: We reported this Seth Rogen, filmed-in-Pittsburgh movie was purchased by HBO Max, a new streaming service launching May 27. So the film won’t be on traditional HBO via cable – at least not right away – but it will be on HBO Max which costs the same as HBO.

HBO Max had not announced a premiere date for “An American Pickle” until Wednesday when the company slated the film for Aug. 6.



Q: Read your article on returning shows and did not see “Younger.” Is it scheduled to come back for the summer??


Rob: Nope. The show had not started filming its new season before the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown. Star Debi Mazar contracted the coronavirus but has since recovered



Q: Has ABC canceled "GMA3" or is it just on hiatus during the pandemic?


Rob: At the moment it’s just on hiatus due to the pandemic. We’ll see if it eventually returns or not.



Q: It would be nice if “Survivor” did a behind-the-scenes episode or two.
1. How and where do all the people who work on the show live, on or off the island.  What is their experience of production crew and staff while survivors are trying to survive?
2.  Show us the cameramen in action
3.  Show how the type of challenges are chosen, built, tested, prior to use.
4.  Are camps swept for insect dangers etc?
5.  Show the process of getting the food rewards to the island.  How do they end up with hot and cold meals.  How does food not spoil before they eat it?
I think all the nitty gritty behind the scenes stuff would be very interesting for all to see.
Other people must have lots of ideas of behind the scene stuff they would like to see.
How about it producers?


Rob: In the past, producers have pulled back the curtain some seasons with a web series, “Ponderosa,” that followed voted-off contestants once there’s a jury.

Regarding questions two and three, editor Andy Dehnart said producers “definitely did some of those videos in the past—lots of videos about challenge construction especially—and ET Canada and TV Guide also did behind-the-scenes stories in the past, some of which are still on YouTube.” 

Q: I have an idea! Why not have a “Survivor” season with people who were voted off 1st. I mean they really never got a chance to play so it would be cool to give them a second chance   I wouldn’t want to be voted off first from that show though!
Pass it on for me

Rob: Wow, lots of ideas for “Survivor” producers this week.

It seems unlikely CBS would go for this one for a simple reason: No one remembers the people voted off first because viewers didn’t have time to get to know them. The whole reason they do “all-stars” seasons is because executives see successful “Survivor” players as “stars” and in bringing back past stars, they hope to draw viewers who are fans of those stars.

Maybe if you had a first-voted-off versus all-stars that might work but I’m not sure CBS execs would be sold on that idea either.



Q: Is there an ETA for the complete series of "Modern Family" on DVD?


Rob: The final season is on DVD June 9. A date for the complete series on DVD has not been announced – I’d guess sometime between now and Christmas – but the complete series is now available digitally.



Q: When will the final season of “Schitt’s Creek” be on Netflix?


Rob: Netflix hasn’t announced when the show, which already aired its final season on cable’s Pop TV, will stream those same episodes on its platform. But if past patterns are any indication, it’s likely to be in October. 



Q: I saw you wrote about the “Grant” miniseries on History in your summer TV preview.  Is it based on the Ron Chernow book I happen to be reading now?


Rob: Essentially, yes. Chernow is an executive producer on “Grant” alongside Leonardo DiCaprio whose Appian Way production company made the program.



Q: Was the CBS decision to air a “Sunday Night Movie” made prior to the COVID-19 pandemic? Or was it a response to it, a chance to have families in lockdown gather around the set to watch a Hollywood classic every Sunday night?  And was the programming decision related at all to the cancellation of “God Friended Me”?


Rob: CBS’s “Sunday Night Movie” and ABC’s Wednesday “Wonderful World of Disney” movie night that begins May 20th are a direct result of the pandemic. As we’ve written before, many network shows did not complete their full order of episodes. The advent of CBS’s Sunday movie had nothing to do with the cancellation of “God Friended Me” which saw its ratings fall in season two



Q: Why is Peggy Finnegan the only WPXI News Anchor broadcasting from home during the pandemic?  Is she O.K.?  


Rob: Finnegan is just fine. And she’s not the only WPXI anchor reporting from home in an effort to observe social distancing in the studio. Several others are, too, including chief meteorologist Stephen Cropper. But weirdly, she does seem to be reporting as to anchoring and anchoring is her normal role.

Why were members of the home team selected to be the ones on the home team? And why isn't Finnegan anchoring? News director Scott Trabandt said, This is not something I’m going to get into.”

Sure hope this isn't an effort to ease her out of the anchor chair. 



Q: While in quarantine for the past seven weeks, watching local news has become more than just a pastime, but is now a habit. I've noticed an increase in 90-second infomercials by someone named Lisa Robertson, "Steals and Deals" maven who hocks all kinds of things people think they need but don't. Where did this woman come from and what kind of foothold does she have on the station owners of WPXI-TV to be on so frequently during daytime and evening viewing hours?


Rob: As we’ve written previously, with people staying home, advertisers have not wanted to advertiser if no one is leaving their homes to make purchases. These new types of commercials are a direct result of the pandemic as TV stations attempt to find new ways to keep advertiser dollars coming in.

As for Robertson, she’s a former QVC host




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