CBS surprised many in May when the network — which single-handedly has kept the multi-camera sitcom tradition alive the past several years as the other nets began to favor single-camera comedies — opted for the first time in its history to pick up only single-camera new comedy series, Life In Pieces and Angel From Hell.
That won’t be the case for next season as CBS already has picked up one comedy series, a multi-camera sitcom toplined by The King of Queens star Kevin James. But it did buy a significant amount of single-camera comedy projects, some of them with penalties. Now I hear that the network has asked a number of single-camera pilot scripts to be reworked as multi-camera or hybrid (in the vein of How I Get Your Mother). Additionally, I hear the format of 1-2 single-camera CBS scripts has been changed proactively to multi-/hybrid by the studios that produce them.
The conversions have had industry types wondering whether CBS’ current foray into single-camera comedy will be short-lived, with the network returning to its bread-and-butter multi-camera sitcoms following the departure of entertainment chairman Nina Tassler and head of comedy Wendi Trilling.
That may not be the case. Sources close to CBS note that out of 16 delivered single-camera scripts, four were asked to change the format to multi-camera or hybrid and the decisions were made based on the specific projects’ feel and setup — taking place in a limited number of locations, largely inside, featuring bigger, laugh-out-loud jokes, etc.
As for the remaining CBS single-camera scripts, there had been rumors that there is an broader effort to adjust pace and tone to be closer to the network’s roster of multi-camera sitcoms. CBS sources are adamant that is not the case. I hear the network will pick up single-camera comedy pilots alongside multi-camera ones.
There are no plans to change the format of CBS’ existing single-camera series, Life In Pieces and Angel From Hell. Family comedy Life In Pieces, which has drawn comparisons to Modern Family, is well liked by CBS brass and received a full-season order. Assigned the best half-hour slot on TV, behind mega hit The Big Bang Theory, Life In Pieces has done OK. Newbie Angel From Hell had a soft debut last Thursday with a 1.6 Live+same day rating in adults 18-49 and 8.1 million viewers but surprised many with better-than-expected Live+3 lifts, 2 million viewers (+24%), the second largest for a new series this season, a fraction behind ABC’s The Muppets (2.1 million), and +0.5 18-49 rating (+31%).