Today in show business news: Lifetime had one of its biggest nights ever last night, ABC had one of its more troubling nights in recent memory last night, and Fox feels bullish about two new shows.
Last night Lifetime: Television For Those Two Women From Those Yoplait Commercials debuted its latest made-for-TV movie, a remake of Robert Harling's Steel Magnolias featuring an all-black cast, including Phylicia Rashad, Queen Latifah, and Alfre Woodard, among others. And it did very well! Lots of you wanted to watch all the laughter through tears and learn all about track lighting, 6.5 million of you to be exact, giving Lifetime its third-highest-watched broadcast in its history and the most watched cable movie since 2007. Meaning, it did pretty well for itself, that little salon where sad things happen. Too bad Harling never wrote a sequel. Just imagine. Steel Magnolias 2: Here Comes Mark! about a gay guy getting a job at Truvy's. And too bad that these stars are too big for Lifetime to turn the thing into a series, as was attempted many moons ago with Elaine Stritch of all people playing Ouiser. That really happened! But it didn't get picked up, so I guess that means that Lifetime could still be the first network to do a Steel Magnolias series, but it's not gonna be with Queen Latifah if they do. Whatever happens, everyone should be happy about last night. They pulled it off. Who would have guessed that a Lifetime TV dramedy movie about women bonding and struggling through life starring some very well-liked actresses that's a remake of a very popular feature film would do well. It's truly remarkable. [The Hollywood Reporter]
On the darker side of ratings news, ABC's 666 Park Avenue did not do very well in its second week, slipping down to 5.1 million viewers and a measly 1.7 rating. That's not good for a show that was given the plum Sunday 10pm slot and was supposed to be a sturdy third part of the big Once Upon a Time/Revenge magical mystery lineup. Those two shows were also down, so we're left to wonder just what is happening to ABC's once-mighty Sunday night. And what can be done to save it? Maybe Terry O'Quinn and Vanessa Williams could be magically transported via the Drake's weird powers to a hospital in Seattle, where they'll have sexy intrigues with other doctors and do voice-overs to Tegan and Sara songs. Or they move to a whimsical suburban street that's rife with hidden darkness and quirky characters and whatnot. (Though, I guess Vanessa Williams already did that.) Whatever it is, something's gotta change. Maybe they could just rebroadcast a football game. People seem to be watching a lot of football these days. [Entertainment Weekly]
Um, so, uh... Handsome actor (of a sort) Cam Gigandet (my, well aren't you Gigandet...) has been cast alongside handsome comedian (of a sort) Nick Thune in an indie comedy. Gigandet will play a ladies man lothario while Thune will play the man's, uh, man part. Yes, the man's "overworked genitals literally abandon his body and take on human form." And then: "Finding himself suddenly pitted against his favorite appendage, Rich must somehow convince his penis to return while 'learning how to be a better man in the process.'" So... That's a movie that's getting made. I mean, it seems like it's a pretty low-budge indie, so it's probably not going to be some big thing, but still. Someone pulled the trigger on this one. Probably just after Gigandet signed up. In fact, they should call the movie Gigandet, instead of Johnson, which is its title right now. Gigandet says it all, doesn't it. Think of the headlines when it's a surprise hit: "Gigandet Had No Idea How Big It Could Be." [The Hollywood Reporter]
Fox has ordered more episodes of two of its new comedies, The Mindy Project and Ben & Kate. Mindy has been given a full season order, so we'll be dealing with all that until at least May. (I kid, I kid, it's a cute show.) Ben & Kate, meanwhile, hasn't been doing quite so well in the ratings, so only received a six episode order. That's certainly better than being canceled, but it doesn't imply that the network has complete confidence in the series. Well, OK, the lower episode order partly had to do with the fact that show creator Dana Fox is pregnant, but those less-than-stellar ratings certainly have something to do with it. But mostly this is good news for both the shows and for Fox, which has been doing a good job of rebuilding its comedy slate after a number of fallow years. In fact, it kind of seems like it's their drama and reality shows that are struggling these days, doesn't it? Except, of course, for The Bones. Ain't no stopping The Bones. Everybody loves The Bones, always. [Deadline]
Last year's surprise Oscar nominee Demian Bichir is joining Ted "Goodbye Horses" Levine, Annabeth Gish, and the previously announced Diane Kruger in the FX crime drama pilot The Bridge. That's the one where Kruger plays an El Paso police detective, because that's totally believable, isn't it. Bichir will play her colleague on the Mexican side, while Gish will play a widowed ranch wife who begins to uncover lots of bad things about her dead hubby. This is shaping up to be an interesting-sounding show, though of course we shouldn't get too excited, lest it never see the light of day. Remember how excited we all were for Mary Steenburgen in Outlaw Country? Remember?? And then nothing. And then Rhea Perlman and Danny DeVito got divorced. You can't count on anything, is what I'm saying. You can't count on anything but yourself. And The Bones. You can count on The Bones. [Deadline]
The CW is developing, with Reese Witherspoon as a producer, a new show that's being called a modern-day Great Expectations. Hm. OK. I thought Alfonso Cuaron and Ethan Hawke already did that back in the '90s, but I suppose that kids born that year are now in freaking high school, so it could be time for another go. Only, this is the description of the show: "a small-town girl with big dreams of making it in the city who is quickly disillusioned by the harsh reality of living in San Francisco — until her fortunes unexpectedly turn thanks to an anonymous benefactor." Hm... That... That isn't really what Great Expectations is about? I mean, it sort of is, there is a small-town jerk who moves to a city and there is an anonymous benefactor, but it's not a city fantasy story, really. Also "the harsh reality of living in San Francisco"? Hahah. No. I'm sorry, but no. Yes there is hardship and suffering in San Francisco, same as there is in any city, but San Francisco does not read small-town girl meets big-bad city. It is not that kind of place. It's San Francisco for god's sake. She moves to the Mission and befriends a pack of part-time rent boys and starts going to farmer's markets. That's what happens. Or she moves to Oakland and becomes an anarchist. Who knows. Plus, she's trying to "make it in the city" and she moves to San Francisco? What is she, a wannabe tech entrepreneur? Is this gonna be that show, about a girl who wants to be Google but the city is like "No you can't be Google" so she's sad until a mystery person says "Here, go be Google" and there's probably, like, a cute bartender whose secretly a computer genius or something? You know, a show with lots of Google talk and computer whiz shtick? Good heavens I kind of hope it is that show. Be that show, show! Either that or relocate. Because otherwise San Francisco ain't cutting it. [Deadline]