UPDATE SUNDAY: I hear that the deal eyed by both sides is for a two-season pickup by TBS, 15 episodes each, which would allow for Cougar Town to be sold in syndication. Negotiations are progressing and if they come to fruition, an announcement could come as soon as early next week.
PREVIOUS EXCLUSIVE SATURDAY 1 PM: Cougar Town is very much on the bubble but a possible cancellation by ABC would not necessarily spell the end of the underrated comedy about a group of wine-loving friends. I’ve learned that TBS has been in talks with Cougar Town producer ABC Studios about potentially picking up the series starring Courteney Cox if ABC ends up canceling it. Sources close to the situation stress that the conversations are preliminary and that transitioning a broadcast series to cable is always tricky financially. “Should the show become available, TEN looks at all opportunities presented to us that fit our brand,” a rep for TBS’ parent Turner Entertainment Networks said, declining further comment.
Cougar Town has had a rough third season. It was taken out of the protected post-Modern Family time slot. Its order was reduced and it was kept off ABC’s fall and midseason schedules until finally landing in the Tuesday 8:30 PM slot after Work It fizzled. Because Cougar Town is produced by ABC’s sister studio, one could assume that the network is aware of the talks with TBS and that the company as a whole might be exploring ways to continue the praised comedy series, which enjoys a devoted following by a core group of passionate fans and is a season away from a shot at syndication.
As ABC is reviewing its comedy pilots for next season, several of its existing series have a good shot at renewals. In addition to Modern Family, The Middle, Suburgatory and Happy Endings, which are assured to return, that also appears very likely for midseason entry Don’t Trust The B—- In Apt. 23, which has several other networks interested and ready to scoop it up if ABC passes. Also looking good to come back is Tim Allen’s Last Man Standing, which had a tough assignment to hold its own as the only multi-camera ABC comedy trying to open a new comedy night for the network. A pickup of Cougar Town by TBS (or ABC) would complicate things for two pilots, CBS’ untitled Louis CK/Spike Feresten project and NBC’s Kari Lizer project, both of which star Cougar Town cast members in second position, Dan Byrd and Josh Hopkins, respectively. If Cougar Town moves to TBS, it would be the second consecutive Bill Lawrence comedy to switch networks, following Scrubs‘ jump to ABC following its 2008 cancellation by NBC. Lawrence co-created Cougar Town with Kevin Biegel. Turner previously picked up another broadcast series, NBC drama Southland, which was recently renewed for a fifth season by TNT.