NBC really loves Lorne Michaels. Though his half-hour family comedy, Up All Night, has been consistently under-performing, even with a time slot move for its second season and an overhaul of cast and storylines, the network just isn’t giving up on the little show that could.
Though the ratings have improved a bit in the past few weeks (perhaps because of star Christina Applegate‘s arguably best-of-the-season hosting of Michaels’ late night show, Saturday Night Live?), NBC isn’t just burning off the last of the remaining episodes for the second season. Instead, the network has actually ordered more new episodes (bringing the second season count up to 15) that come with a brand-new format. Rather than let a show limp out, NBC is giving the Up All Night writers and producers every chance to make their more successful and marketable, and yes, “broad.”
As Entertainment Weekly first reported today, the single-camera half-hour comedy from Emily Spivey is being turned into a multi-camera sitcom that will tape in front of a live studio audience here in Los Angeles starting in February 2013.
Um, so much for airing the show they originally bought, right? Whatever happened to respecting a writer/artist’s vision!?
Naturally, series stars Applegate and Maya Rudolph have ample experience with live television formats, and Will Arnett got his start in live comedy on stage, as well. Still, this is a bold move and a risk in its own right considering such a drastic style change can affect the entire tone of the show. Current fans of the series may prefer it as is for the fact that it doesn’t rely on a laugh track or over-the-top traditional sitcom humor, and there’s no real guarantee multi-camera will draw a larger audience here, when NBC is no longer known for churning out the best in that part of the business.
NBC’s Chairman of Entertainment, Bob Greenblatt, who is known for loving traditional sitcoms like current on-air options Whitney and Guys with Kids feels this combination of players and new-old format will be the shot in the arm the series needs to drum up more buzz. However, though he compared the situations, it is important to note he is not merely looking to do one live episode as a stunt, ala 30 Rock or Will & Grace of years past. The format change is for all of the new episodes going forward– this season and any potential next season.
“This was an idea we and [executive producer Lorne Michaels] came to in order to infuse the show with more energy,” Greenblatt explained. “We know what the multi-camera audience does for the live episodes of 30 Rock, plus after seeing both [Up All Night co-stars] Maya [Rudolph] and Christina [Applegate] do SNL within the past few months, we knew we had the kind of performers— Will Arnett included— who love the reaction from a live audience. We think we can make a seamless tradition to the new format.”
Are you intrigued by Up All Night live or are you more in the “don’t fix what isn’t actually creatively broken” category? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
Up All Night airs on Thursday nights at 8:30 p.m. on NBC.
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