Contrary to widespread rumors, ABC didn’t threaten to cut the episode order for the second season of The Real O’Neals as punishment for controversial comments made by series star Noah Galvin. So said The Real O’Neals executive producer Casey Johnson today during ABC’s comedy showrunners TCA panel.
Galvin drew widespread criticism over an interview published in June, in which he made disparaging statements about Colton Haynes and Bryan Singer, and complained about the speed at which ABC renewed The Real O’Neals. However, according to Johnson when asked about the controversy, the network took things in stride. “There wasn’t any threat to cut our orders. ABC has been incredibly supportive… The article came out and Noah regretted what he said and apologized really quickly,” he said. “We’ve all said things that we wished we hadn’t. There wasn’t that much buzzing behind the scenes… it’s all good.”
Joining Johnson onstage for the panel were Mike Sikowitz (Dr. Ken), Matt Berry (Last Man Standing), Eileen Heisler and DeAnn Heline (The Middle), Steven Levitan (Modern Family), and David Windsor and Stacy Traub (The Real O’Neals).
Asked if they envy cable networks for facing fewer content restrictions and other rules, the panelists maintained that aside from time and language constraints there wasn’t much reason to be jealous. “I’d imagine [cable colleagues] envy our opportunity to speak to that broad of an audience,” said Berry. Levitan agreed. “The benefit in doing a family show [on a broadcast network] is the tone naturally fits a bit more,” he said. “When we’re doing Modern Family, we are imagining that there are going to be kids watching [so] we don’t feel constrained that often.”
“Our show wouldn’t live any differently on cable,” added Heisler.
The group was asked at one point if the acclaim and awards success enjoyed by Modern Family has afforded it much more leeway to experiment than the other shows under discussion. Berry insisted that award recognition wasn’t a requirement. “What you need is a really strong vision of what you want to do and a really strong reason you want to do it, and the confidence you can pull it off. The network people are really smart. They understand the big landscape we’re competing in… I think any of us would have that opportunity.”
“To the network’s credit, they’ve encouraged us to push ourselves to find different ways to tell our stories,” said Sikowitz. “They’re really supportive.”