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Articles about "What About Joan"

Articles about the cancellation and the second season

ABC Jettisons "Joan"

by Marcus Errico, E-Online, Oct 11, 2001

Joan, we hardly knew ye.

ABC announced a major revamp of its Tuesday night lineup, pulling the plug on Joan Cusack's What About Joan and bringing back NYPD Blue.

, a midseason replacement show last season, has become the second casualty of the fall season. CBS axed Danny earlier this week.

ABC immediately yanked Joan off its schedule. Two episodes into the season, Joan averaged 8.7 million viewers to go with its 6.1 household rating and 9 share. Those numbers were substantially lower than its lead-in, Dharma & Greg, which averaged 10.9 million viewers and a 7.3 rating/11 share after two airings.

Spin City will permanently fill Joan's 8:30 p.m. ET/PT slot effective November 6. (Dharma & Greg reruns will hold down the vacated time period until them.)

As part of the makeover, ABC will bring back NYPD Blue to its Tuesday roster, but an hour earlier than usual--at 9 p.m. The network had initially shifted its veteran cop hit for Wednesdays at 10 p.m. when it unveiled its schedule in May. (20/20 will continue to occupy the Wednesday slot.)

Holding in the Tuesday 10 p.m. spot will be the rookie legal drama Philly. Additionally, the new Jason Alexander sitcom Bob Patterson will move from Tuesdays at 9 p.m. to Wednesdays at 9:30. All the changes will be in place as of November 13. Additionally, ABC has pulled The Mole II indefinitely and replaced it with America's Funniest Home Videos. ABC says the reality show will return at a later date.

The shakeup boils down to a simple numbers game. Traditionally, Tuesday nights have been to ABC what Thursdays are to NBC--a ratings juggernaut. ABC had dominated the day for years, thanks to hits like Roseanne and Home Improvement. But this year ABC's Nielsens are in the tank--the network finished third behind NBC and CBS last week. Joan faced tough direct competition from Fox's Undeclared and NBC's Three Sisters, as well as the second half-hours of CBS' JAG and UPN's Buffy.

"People are looking for the comfort of familiar shows from last year, familiar time periods, and seeking out news," ABC programming boss Stu Bloomberg tells the Associated Press. "[Cusack was] such a pleasure to watch. Yet her show was not performing well...we had to shore up the schedule."

Despite the drastic overhaul, ABC might have some even bigger changes ahead. Faced with a dwindling advertising market, the network is toying with scrapping its Saturday night programming altogether, according to a report this week in the Los Angeles Times.

ABC Shows Joan Cusack the Door

STEPHEN M. SILVERMAN, October 12, 2001, People

What do Daniel Stern and Joan Cusack have in common? Canceled TV sitcoms. Stern had "Danny" on CBS, axed earlier in the week as the first casualty of the new season. Cusack had "What About Joan," the second casualty, and the first for ABC this season. The removal of her show, which began as a midseason replacement last season, actually signals a complete overhaul of ABC's Tuesday night lineup. "Joan" will eventually be replaced by the hit "Spin City." "The reality is, Joan Cusack is an enormous talent and a wonderful person," said ABC spokesman Kevin Brockman. "We have chased her for years. But sooner or later you can't look at the show like it's in a vacuum. The impact that show was having was affecting the entire night." In two other moves, ABC eased the pressure on the highly scrutinized sitcom "Bob Patterson," starring "Seinfeld" alumnus Jason Alexander. It is being removed from its current Tuesday timeslot opposite NBC powerhouse "Frasier" to a more benign spot on Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. "Patterson," the second show to star a "Seinfeld" alumnus (Michael Richards tanked last year), got off to a rocky start and had several roles recast before premiering to lukewarm reviews. ABC is also considering pulling its reality series "The Mole II" from Friday nights, after a disappointing start for the second round of the reality show. Over at Fox, the drama "Pasadena," like the Southern California city on the San Andreas Fault for which the show is named, is on shaky ground.

ABC cancels Joan Cusack sitcom


ABC has hung up the phone on "Joan."
 Joan Cusack's new TV series "What About Joan" has been cancelled by the network. Cusack was advised that the network was dumping the show Thursday, on her 39th birthday, according to the Zap2it.com website.
 "What About Joan" premiered in March 2001, but made it through only two weeks in the new fall season before the bottom fell out of the ratings. The report said that this week's show drew 6.72 million viewers, ranking it fifth in its time period among viewers aged 18 to 49.
 "Dharma & Greg" reruns will air in "What About Joan's" time slot for the next two weeks, Zap2it.com said.
 In other ABC lineup shuffling, Jason Alexander's faltering self-help sitcom "Bob Patterson" is being moved to the Wednesday 9:30 p.m. slot following "The Drew Carey Show.
 As a result, "Spin City" will move to Tuesday 8:30 p.m. on Nov. 6. "NYPD Blue" is moving from Wednesday back to Tuesday with a two-hour special airing at 9 p.m. The show will also serve as a lead-in for "NYPD Blue" producer Steven Bochco's new legal drama "Philly," the report said.

'Blue' Sticks
'Joan' Nixed

By RICHARD HUFF, New York Daily News TV Editor, 10/12/01

Fans of ABC's gritty cop drama "NYPD Blue" can rest easy. Next month, the show will begin its new season on its usual Tuesday night, rather than move to Wednesdays as planned.

However, when the series returns on Nov. 6, it will be at 9 p.m., instead of 10 p.m., according to ABC Entertainment Television Group co-chairman Stu Bloomberg.

"NYPD Blue's" move back to Tuesdays was part of a handful of switches the network revealed yesterday, after it was clear its Tuesday lineup was struggling.

The Tuesday comedy "What About Joan," starring Joan Cusack, has been canceled, and Jason Alexander's new series, "Bob Patterson," will shift from Tuesdays to Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m.

Cusack's show launched last spring and got good critical notices and ratings. However, on Tuesdays this season, the show failed to do well at 8:30 p.m., following "Dharma & Greg." And it provided little lead-in for "Bob Patterson" at 9 p.m.

"The world has changed since Sept. 11, and I think that affects everything in everybody's life," Bloomberg said. "And that includes what they watch and how they watch."

Bloomberg said the ratings indicate viewers are going for what's comfortable and familiar, which has made it difficult for new programs to do well.

"I love both shows, I think they're strong," Bloomberg said of "Joan" and "Bob." "But we're not performing well, and we have to make quick changes."

Leaving "NYPD Blue" on Tuesdays means "20/20" will remain at Wednesdays at 10 p.m. until midseason, when it will shift to Fridays at 10.

"I think that's a fascinating move," said Steve Sternberg, senior VP at media buying firm Magna Global USA. "I think that 'NYPD Blue' could do very well [at 9 p.m.] and actually could give 'Philly' a boost."

ABC's new "Philly" airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m., stars former "NYPD Blue" cast member Kim Delaney and like "Blue" is produced by Steven Bochco. It launched with decent ratings but has finished behind time period rival "Judging Amy" (CBS) in total viewers.

Likewise, ABC's "The Job," a cop comedy starring Denis Leary, set to air Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m., will now be held for the midseason to give "Bob Patterson" a chance to grow in the time period.

"That Tuesday night," Bloomberg said, "is now really, really potent."

ABC Cancels 'Joan'; 'Blue' Back on Tuesday
Thu, Oct 11, 2001 08:17 PM PDT

by Rick Porter
Zap2it.com, TV News

LOS ANGELES (Zap2it.com) - Joan Cusack received an unfortunate gift for her 39th birthday Thursday (Oct. 11), as "What About Joan" became the second cancellation of the 2001 fall season when ABC dropped the low-rated sitcom.

The network also made several other changes to its schedule, moving "NYPD Blue" back to Tuesday, the struggling "Bob Patterson" to Wednesday and holding back "The Job" until midseason.

"What About Joan," which premiered in March 2001, lasted only two weeks in the new fall season. After earning a 6.1 household rating/9 share in its season debut Oct. 2, it fell to a 4.9/7 this week, drawing only 6.72 million viewers. Its rating among adults 18-49 was only 2.5/6, fifth in its time period.

An ABC spokesman tells Zap2it.com that the decison to cancel "Joan" was "unfortunate," but the low ratings forced the network's hand. Series star Joan Cusack couldn't be reached for comment.

For the next two weeks, reruns of "Dharma & Greg" will air in "Joan's" 8:30 p.m. time slot. After one more Tuesday airing, "Bob Patterson" will move to 9:30 p.m. Wednesday on Oct. 24, following "The Drew Carey Show."

"'Bob Patterson' will be given room to grow following 'Drew,' a show which is much more compatible in sensibility," ABC co-chairmen Lloyd Braun and Stu Bloomberg say in a statement. "The Job," originally slated to follow "Drew Carey," will move back to midseason.

"Spin City" will move to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday as of Nov. 6. "NYPD Blue" returns to that night as well, kicking off with a two-hour special at 9 p.m. It will remain in the 9 p.m. slot, while executive producer Steven Bochco's new drama "Philly" remains at 10 p.m.

Bochco had made no secret of his dissatisfaction with the network with "Blue's" Wednesday at 10 timeslot this fall. Now the question is how the often raw content of the show will fare at 9 p.m. Tuesdays.

"This change will immediately and significantly improve our performance on Tuesday night, and will provide 'Philly' with the strong lead-in that it deserves," Braun and Bloomberg say.

Joan's second season

By Allan Johnson, Metromix

The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens are flush with lovely grounds, tall, lush trees and beautiful people, many of them stars of various ABC series.

Joan Cusack fit right in with such celebrities as Sela Ward and Billy Campbell of "Once and Again," the star of "The Drew Carey Show," and "Thieves" co-star John Stamos, with wife Rebecca Romjim-Stamos of "X-Men." All were attending a party thrown by the network as part of the annual Television Critics Association Press Tour.

"I'm so happy to promote the show. I'm proud to be able to do it," said the star of "What About Joan."

But despite the California chic surrounding her, Cusack's thoughts were never far from Chicago, where her series is shot and where she lives with her husband and young children.

It was Cusack who pushed to get the romantic comedy made in Chicago, and as it is about to head into its second season, she still marvels at her good fortune.

"I've had the best ride of my life with this," Cusack said, as Jim Belushi, star of the new comedy "According to Jim," jammed on the harmonica with a small band.

"It's been a fascinating journey, and a great story," Cusack said. "It's something I really, truly believe in, and being able to work at home and be with my family, it's the best."

"What About Joan" (Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m. on WLS-Ch. 7, moving to 7:30 p.m. in the fall), "My Wife and Kids" and "The Job" provided ABC with a jolt of comedy and plenty of extra viewers when they came on in midseason.

Cusack noted that some production issues, such as providing a live Internet feed for executive producer James L. Brooks to offer his input as "Joan" was being taped, will be minimized this season.

"It was just very confusing," she said, adding she wants to continue holding up her end of the ABC new sitcom trio's success.

"I think we've made some good changes, tried to make it better," Cusack said. "We have so much great, raw information from the first 13 (episodes) that we did, about what worked and what didn't work. And I know for myself what performance level worked and what didn't work."

On the other hand, Cusack would like her series to be a little more serious in getting the laughs.

"I'm hoping that this show can be as realistic as it can be. And while I'm all for feeling free and fun and having a free performance, I think unless it's in a really realistic context, it seems like it's not as meaningful, it's not as relatable. ...

"It's hard to tell a story in 20 minutes, and so I know why things can kind of get so exaggerated. But I think we're trying."

Cusack knows she'll get plenty of support from the audiences that will start attending "What About Joan" tapings in a few weeks.

She said crowds have been enthusiastic, which only helps the energy level of the performers.

"They were great," Cusack said of the people who showed up. "In Chicago, nobody's seen a sitcom (made). And it's so interesting to see how it works. And the people are supportive and happy to have had a chance to get a peek at that in their hometown."

New focus, new tone for 'Joan'

By Gary Levin, USA TODAY, 09/27/2001

What About Joan, Joan Cusack's first TV sitcom, returns for a second season on ABC Tuesday with a few changes and plans for the star's brother, John, to appear in an upcoming episode.

"We kind of came to the realization that the more realistic it was, the better," Cusack says, adding the series will be less jokey but more "relatable," focusing on teacher Joan Gallagher and her romance with investment-banker Jake Evans (played by Kyle Chandler of Early Edition). "The goal was to make it a more sophisticated show. We didn't want it to be a cynical, negative comedy."

New executive producer John Levenstein says Joan's tone also will shift: "There was a lot of her spinning out and freaking out last year, and everyone else supporting her." Now, "the supporting characters are all a little quirkier, and Joan is more grounded."

Other changes in store for the new season, which bows Tuesday (8:30 ET/PT): Jeff Garlin plays Steinie, a new bar-owner pal for Jake. Jessica Hecht, who played Joan's friend, has left the show.

Cusack's learning curve

October 1, 2001, Chicago Sun-Times

Joan Gallagher's high school students can't seem to understand how their teacher wound up with a hunk like investment banker Jake Evans. That's understandable because Joan herself spent far too much of the first season of ABC's Chicago-based "What About Joan" echoing their silly incredulity.

TV, even more than life, is full of mismatched couples. The key to their success is not questioning it too much, which, sadly, is what Joan--who, like series star Joan Cusack, is more than charming enough to snag whomever she wants--did to a wearying degree last spring while bouncing off the walls and trying too hard and too loudly to sell her punch lines.

Having shelved some previously shot episodes originally scheduled to run this fall in favor of a new beginning, Cusack's "What About Joan" opens its second season at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday on WLS-Channel 7 with a less manic and more confident Ms. Gallagher explaining to her class how she and Jake ("Early Edition" alum Kyle Chandler) got together rather than explain the works of Robert Frost.

The result is a *** relaunch of the series, a trip, as it were, down the road not taken, a path seemingly headed toward becoming a better show but quite possibly a less funny one.

This is still a program that relies too heavily on the charm of Cusack and Chandler, but it wisely is doing less to get in the way of that appeal under new executive producer John Levenstein.

Gallagher does remain a bit of a puzzle. She frets over dining alone yet is brave enough to wear red for the occasion and hesitates only a moment before asking the guy at the table next to her, a man who has just politely but very publicly broken up with someone after three weeks, "If you knew going in that she wasn't the right one, why do you even bother?"

The same, of course, might be asked of Cusack and crew about her earlier, much-too-broad take on Gallagher for the first 13 episodes, nine of which were aired.

But just as she lays out dating rules for her teen poetry students that she all but ignored en route to success with Jake, it's all right to break the TV rules that say that what you start with in a series is what you end up with. Better to change than to stick with something that isn't working, as former "Married ... With Children" executive producer Katherine Green's script hammers home hard.

"One day," Joan tells her students, "there may come a time when you have to make a leap of faith and throw out a rule or two or four." Or two or four episodes already filmed, no matter how expensive that is, right?

Joan's psychiatrist pal Ruby (Donna Murphy)--who oh-so-conveniently happens to be hanging out uninvited in Joan's apartment when needed for a chat in the middle of the night--offers a theory about men that could just as easily be applied to TV series and their stars. "When you find the right one," she says, "you can do everything you think is wrong with him and it still works out."

Now it remains to be seen whether this one will work out, but most of the changes seem to help, except for, say, the one that has Jake keeping a guitar in his bachelor pad living room despite his apparent inability to play it or sing particularly well. It would be an interesting but unlikely twist, but what if he's more of a makeout artist than we have been led to believe?

Probably not. "What About Joan" didn't go to all this trouble changing what's what about Joan only to keep tweaking it. You can only be born anew so many times, and lest you think this rebirth-of-a-series and rebirth-of-a-character stuff is overstated, there is Jake's commentary as Joan ventures tentatively into his apartment for the first time:

"I see a head. Now we're crowning. That's good. Now find a focal point. Breathe deep, breathe deep and welcome."

Now maybe we're reading too much into what is supposed to be a light comedy, but it's not our fault. Our high school English teachers didn't veer off their lesson plans to talk about their personal lives. We actually had to study the damn poetry.

'Joan' Is Her
Comfort Zone

By DONNA PETROZZELLO, New York Daily News, 10/2/01

Like many, Joan Cusack found that work provided comfort in the days following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

But it wasn't easy. Cusack and her husband, corporate lawyer Robert Burke, lost a friend when the twin towers collapsed.

"There's a period of grieving, then you try to find the balance between getting through it and not letting it take over your life," Cusack said. "But, it's not as if you can forget what happened."

The incidents also affected her ABC sitcom, "What About Joan," which launches its second season tonight at 8:30.

Following the disaster, Cusack & Co. shot one episode without an audience, a first for the show. Other ABC shows that week similarly closed their sets to studio audiences.

Likewise, scriptwriters changed a scene in an upcoming episode that would have put Cusack, who plays single schoolteacher Joan Gallagher, on a flight to Green Bay, Wis., with her boyfriend, Jake (Kyle Chandler, "Early Edition"). Instead, the couple will drive, she said.

Getting back to her show has been helpful in moving ahead, she said.

"It's felt nice to work, as though you were taking a little break from thinking about what happened," she said. "I'm so thrilled to get the chance to do a second season on this show. I feel as though I've won the lottery just to have a job in this business."

Tonight's season-opener recounts Gallagher's awkward first date with Jake, who gives the brush-off to a beautiful blond to dine with Gallagher instead.

Cusack said she's particularly proud to play a woman who is sometimes frightened about making a commitment, yet optimistic about love.

"I didn't consider myself at first to be a leading lady because I'd always played the best friend to a glamorous girl who had the boyfriend," she said.

"But, the idea of doing something from a normal girl's point of view appealed to me. I don't want the show to have that heightened sense of reality that sitcoms tend to have. I think audiences have seen a lot of that already."

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