The Season 4 broadcast run, which kicks off October 5 with back-to-back episodes over three weeks, was part of the deal ViacomCBS sibling Pop TV made last year to rescue the praised family sitcom after its cancellation by Netflix. ODAAT, a reimagining of the classic Lear sitcom with a Latino family, was going to be a likely summer fare for the broadcast network, but the pandemic-related production shutdown delayed the 2020-21 broadcast series and the comedy found its way to the fall schedule. (The timing proved fortuitous as star Justina Machado has been bringing attention to the comedy series’ upcoming CBS run with her strong showing on Dancing With the Stars.)
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The pandemic also cut short ODAAT’s fourth season to six episodes shot on stage. The show produced an additional seventh animated episode during quarantine, “The Politics Episode,” which tackled the November 3 presidential election head-on. CBS will not be airing that episode. In a lively interview with Deadline, ODAAT executive producers Gloria Calderon Kellett, Lear, as well as Brent Miller in a cameo appearance, expressed hope the network would change its plan and run the episode, the timing of which would fall just before the election.
ODAAT‘s performance on CBS is expected to factor into ViacomCBS’ decision whether to renew the Sony Pictures TV-produced comedy for a fifth season, on Pop or more likely on TV Land and/or CBS. Given the high stakes, Lear and Calderon Kellett, who co-developed and co-runs ODAAT with Mike Royce, made the case why viewers should watch on CBS and what is in store for a potential fifth season and beyond. Lear and Miller also shared how the recently announced animated version of Lear’s Good Times for Netflix with Steph Curry and Seth MacFarlane came about and provided an update on the next installment of ABC’s Live in Front of a Studio Audience.
The interview was done last week, days after ODAAT had won its second consecutive Multi-Camera Picture Editing Emmy for a Comedy Series Emmy (Cheryl Campsmith was the winner this year, Pat Barnett last year). Lear, 98, also won a second consecutive Variety Special (Live) Emmy for ABC’s Live In Front of a Studio Audience, breaking his own record for oldest Emmy winner.
DEADLINE: First off, congratulations to both on the Emmy wins, ODAAT‘s Emmy for editing and Norman, your second Emmy for Live in Front of a Studio Audience. I’m sure it was gratifying, but there also has been a discussion about the lack of Latino representation at the Emmys. Gloria, what do you think about that?
CALDERON KELLETT: We were thrilled. I think there’s only four wins by women (in the category), and they are for One Day at a Time and then for How I Met Your Mother (Susan Federman twice). I’m pleased to have been on both of those shows when they won the Multi-Cam Emmys. So we’re really thrilled for the awesome female representation. The lack of Latino representation is obviously disappointing. We’re used to it, sadly, but this year especially, there seem to be so many wonderful shows and so much great work that was actually made that just seemed to not be able to break through the noise of so many shows. It’s also a matter of marketing and money and things that smaller shows often don’t get a chance to participate in. So it was very gratifying to be able to at least get one award for a Latino show.
DEADLINE: Norman, it’s the 45th anniversary of the original One Day at a Time on CBS. How does it feel to be back on the same network with a new version of the show 45 years later?
LEAR: It’s a thrill to be back to CBS. I just love the whole idea, and I couldn’t be more grateful to Gloria and her writing partner here on the show, Mike Royce. They have done a fabulous job, and it’s 100% their victory. And Brent, I congratulate him also. Because 95% of everything I ever did was at CBS, it’s just a thrill to be coming back with these guys there.
CALDERON KELLETT (to Lear): Does that blow your mind, 45 years? Would you ever have anticipated that anything you worked on then would be redone 45 years later?
LEAR: Yeah, I found this note in a drawer from 45 years ago when we first started. There will be a Gloria in my life, 40 to 70 years from now, I said. I’ll show you the note.
CALDERON KELLETT: You’re the modern-day Nostradamus.
DEADLINE: Norman, beside Nostradamus, you also were the king of broadcast. You stayed away from that medium for a while, and now you’re coming back. Do you still love broadcast TV?
LEAR: What is not to love about broadcast TV? It’s so very exciting to know that millions of people are going to watch what you’ve been thinking about and caring about and helping these glorious actors to advance their talents and energies and smarts. It’s altogether exciting.
DEADLINE: ODAAT took a rather unusual path. The traditional model has been, a show starts on broadcast, then it’s sold into basic cable syndication, and, starting the last 10 years, it could also get on streaming. ODAAT started on streaming, Netflix. It went to basic cable, Pop, and it’s now headed to broadcast television. What do you make of that unique journey?
CALDERON KELLETT: You can’t keep a good show down, Nellie. No, listen, I think that we really have to thank our partners at Sony because they have been fighting. They’ve always believed in the show and always loved it and supported our vision and said straight away, we will continue to fight for this show. And they did, and so we’re very very grateful to the work that Sony did, and I think also to the community of people, fans that love the show who were so vocal on social media in terms of what it meant to them, the representation not just for the Latino community but also for our veterans and LGBTQ and just immigrants. We really had such an intersectionality of people who related to the show, and we’re so grateful to the fans who were so vocal.
LEAR: This cast is so fabulous.
CALDERON KELLETT: Yeah, they’re so good.
DEADLINE: Will you have to make any changes to the show in moving it from cable to broadcast?
CALDERON KELLETT: No. No changes need to be made. In fact, what’s fantastic is the first episode of the season — we purposefully did a census episode where Ray Romano plays a census employee — it’s perfect. It’s timely in this moment. It’s perfectly timed and it’s also such a great reset for anyone who has not seen it on Netflix to get a very quick sense of who all these characters are, what they mean to each other and go.
DEADLINE: What about the animated Politics episode? Is it going to air on CBS?
CALDERON KELLETT: Thus far, they’re just airing the first six. So you’ll get to see 4.01, 4.02, 4.03, 4.04, 4.05, 4.06. We would love for them to show 4.07, which is the animated episode, but thus far, they are not going to be airing that. We would love for them to do it, especially now that Black-ish is doing an animated episode using the guy, the Smiley Guy (Studios) that we used. Perhaps there will be more, but thus far, they have not ordered that one to air.
LEAR: Brent, do you have any comment on that? Do you know anything more about that?
MILLER: No, no, everything that Gloria said. Our hope is that they will air it because after we have a huge rating at CBS for three weeks in a row, I think they’re absolutely going to want to air that animated episode a week before the election because it is so important for the election.
LEAR: I think their decision to put two of these on back to back for three weeks is brilliant.
CALDERON KELLETT: Do you? Tell me why you think that. I’m happy to hear that.
DEADLINE: Me, too.
LEAR: Because I will bet it’s going to work. That’s what it’s all about, how do we get a bigger rating, and I think it’s going to happen.
CALDERON KELLETT: I hope that’s true.
LEAR: Nellie, you’re going to see to it.
CALDERON KELLETT: Yeah, Nellie.
DEADLINE: We’re getting the word out with this interview.
CALDERON KELLETT: Love it.
MILLER: I just want to say that we’re also excited because we can tell by the reaction over the past two weeks of our star, Justina Machado, and her performances on Dancing With the Stars, that people are loving her, and once they realize that she’s on this show that is going to be on CBS in October, I think that CBS is going to be surprised at the amount of people that turn up.
CALDERON KELLETT: Yeah, she’s the top every week. She just is doing amazing.
DEADLINE: You mentioned the Black-ish episode. What did you think when you saw that they are doing something similar with an election-themed animated episode?
CALDERON KELLETT: We’re delighted. First of all, we love Black-ish. In many ways, they’re in the same world that we’re in. We love [creator] Kenya [Barris], and we love everyone over there. So we celebrate them, and we celebrate also people finding creative ways to get their crews back to work and to get their shows bought. I think it’s wonderful.
DEADLINE: Would you do another animated episode of One Day at a Time?
CALDERON KELLETT: If that was the only option. We just love making the show. I think that our deep desire is to return to its original form, but I’m open to doing more animated episodes. Sure.
LEAR: I am, too, but as Gloria just said, I by far favor coming back to a stage and a live audience and a live performance.
CALDERON KELLETT: Can’t wait.
LEAR: There’s nothing quite like it.
CALDERON KELLETT: It’s true.
DEADLINE: Speaking of returning, are you done with Season 4 because of the pandemic? Is there any chance of you going back to production to finish?
CALDERON KELLETT: No. 4.07 would be the completion of Season 4, and then what we’re hoping for is a Season 5 order.
DEADLINE: That is hinging on how the show will do on CBS. So what would you tell fans, both those who have not seen the show and those who have? Why should they tune in to CBS and watch One Day at a Time?
LEAR: Tell them because I said so.
CALDERON KELLETT: Listen, there’s no better reason than that, really. That’s the reason for anything. I’d do anything Norman told me to do. This show was really made to be a homage to what Norman has been doing on CBS for the last 50 years. I remember when we were on Netflix and people would ask us, what’s the difference?
And we’re like, it’s just longer. This is very much a network broadcast multi-camera show in the form that Norman has been doing for his life, which is the living room, couch, the conversations about an American family in this moment in time. So to be able to have the opportunity to get the eyeballs of the CBS audience is an honor, and those are the people we’ve always wanted to talk to.
We’re just delighted, and if they want more, then please watch and tweet and do all the things that they’ve done, every single time, but hopefully more people will show up.
LEAR: We all love what does our hearts good, and I can’t think of anything that does our hearts good more than watching a couple of hundred people who are sitting there looking at the cast they’ve come to like in a brand new story with cameras shooting live, and that laughter, 200-300 people laughing at the same time, there is nothing more spiritual or closer to the spiritual in life that I know.
CALDERON KELLETT: I also think the big thing would be that, as far as I know, we are the only Latino show on broadcast this fall, which is a bummer, but also even more of a reason why we very much want to make a splash, because the other versions that appear of my community in a lot of procedurals is not always as accurate as I would like it to be. So this is very much an opportunity to have an authentic story about fully formed characters that aren’t just guest starring. That’s something that we really want to lean into because it’s something that we care very much about.
DEADLINE: Do you already have plans for a potential fifth season? Would some of the leftover stories from Season 4 that didn’t get a chance to be filmed be part of that?
CALDERON KELLETT: Yes. So Mike Royce…maybe I shouldn’t be sharing this, but I’m going to tell you, Nellie. Mike records a lot of our conversations. He’s recorded most of it. So it’s with my consent.
LEAR: Is he recording now?
CALDERON KELLETT: He’s not on this call, so he’s not recording now, but do you know, Norman? Do you know the first time Mike and I met, he has the recording of the first time he and I met.
LEAR: No kidding.
CALDERON KELLETT: Yeah, he records us all the time. So we have hours and hours of shows that, this season, we didn’t even get to because we get in there, and then the writers still step in. We always come in with a skeleton of what we’re thinking we’re going to do, and we sort of had that built out through season 5 or 6, and there are so many things we haven’t gotten to tell yet because this family, we have so much for them to go through still.
So, obviously, we would absorb (the unproduced storylines); we have so many beautiful episodes. There was the one that Justina was going to direct, which is another beautiful religion episode, which we would love to put into Season 5 and give her that directing debut and also a beautiful script written by Sebastian Jones and so many other really wonderful storylines that we really, really want to do, in terms of Elena figuring out where she’s going to school and really what’s going to be happening to these kids, as well as what Penelope’s love life looks like now with Max, their sort of modern relationship. We have so much more to tell, and especially with everything that’s going on in this world, every day, I’m like, oh my gosh, Elena would say this. Elena would say that. Elena would say this. It’s just ripe with things that this family would be talking about.
DEADLINE:Norman, will we see an episode of the original One Day at a Time on ABC’s Live in Front of a Studio Audience?
LEAR: Well, I have to have the network or the situation where somebody wants to put it on, but I would love that. I think it would be so interesting to see a few copies of that, if not an entire season, along with the current version.
DEADLINE: Have you decided what shows would be featured on the next installment of Live in Front of a Studio Audience, whenever that may be?
MILLER: We haven’t yet decided. We’re tossing around a handful of ideas, but obviously, it’s no longer live in front of a studio audience. So we’re trying to figure that part out first. We have one more special that we’ve been guaranteed by ABC. So maybe we can do that in the spring of 2021.
DEADLINE: Norman and Brent, you just sold a Good Times animated series to Netflix. Was the success of the animated episode of One Day at a Time an inspiration, and why did you think animation was a good way to revisit the series?
LEAR: Oh, absolutely. I mean, it made its points, everything that a network needed to know, it proved. It went well. Anything to add to that, Brent?
MILLER: We share office space on the Sony lot with Unanimous, Steph Curry’s company. His team had approached us because they wanted to find something to do together, and Erick Peyton and Jenelle Lindsay came to us and said, what do you guys think about exploring an animated Good Times? Norman and I thought it was a brilliant idea.
Norman and Seth MacFarlane are good buddies, and they’ve always been trying to find something to do together, and I said to Norman, what do you think of having Seth be part of this? He said, I like that idea, too, and so we all came together and found the brilliant Carl Jones, who has created a take that we are so excited for everyone to see. And I can tell you that Netflix is equally excited about bringing this show back in an animated way.
DEADLINE: I’m sure they were equally excited a few years ago about One Day at a Time, until they stopped being excited after three seasons. It’s a Netflix joke.
LEAR: Oh, I think it’s more than a joke.
DEADLINE: Going back to ODAAT and looking at its future, how many seasons do you want to go, Gloria?
CALDERON KELLETT: At least six.
LEAR: I say 34.
CALDERON KELLETT: I love it. I like what Norman has to say.
LEAR: And I want to be there for every one of them.
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