Fall TV Trends
Who’s in and who’s out
Out: Charlie Sheen. In: Ashton Kutcher. This is the most painfully obvious transition of the upcoming fall 2011 season. In one of the most high-profile (and well-tweeted) Hollywood feuds of all time, “Two and a Half Men” producer Chuck Lorre booted troubled actor Charlie Sheen. And hired Ashton Kutcher to replace him. Sheen is busy shopping his TV adaptation of the Adam Sandler film Anger Management. So far, no network seems interested in even bankrolling it. Kutcher, meanwhile, steps into a sweet, $800,000-per-episode gig. Producers have estimated (perhaps a bit optimistically) that the Sheen-less season premiere of the CBS sitcom will draw 50 million viewers. Sheen, meanwhile, got a job hosting Insane Clown Posse’s annual Gathering of the Juggalos.
Out: Laurence Fishburne. In: Ted Danson. Laurence Fishburne was supposed to be the big ratings-grabber for the post-William Petersen “CSI.” He wasn’t. So writers had him beat a serial killer to death at the end of last season. That kinda put a stop to his law-enforcement career. Replacing him this season is Ted Danson from “Cheers.” Sounds kinda funny, but Danson has been on a roll thanks to memorable turns in HBO’s “Bored to Death” and FX’s “Damages.”
Out: Chord Overstreet. In: Everybody from “The Glee Project.” Pouty-faced pretty boy Chord Overstreet didn’t get to inhabit the skin of newbie football player Sam Evans for very long on FOX’s “Glee.” Creator/producer Ryan Murphy, bored with his new plaything, tossed the blond bohunk aside in less than a season. In his place, Murphy hired ... all four finalists from his reality competition, “The Glee Project.” He was supposed to pick one person, but he instead gave seven-episode arcs to the top two contestants and tossed two-episode appearances at the two runners-up. Now that he’s been given four ready-made characters, he’ll barely have to write this next season.
Out: Jean Smart. In: Terry O’Quinn. Jean Smart had a recurring role as the governor of Hawaii on the first season of CBS’ reboot of “Hawaii Five-0.” But she got assassinated in the season finale. Among several new castmembers for Season 2 is Terry O’Quinn, who will play a mysterious Navy SEAL who trained Five-0 boss Steve McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin). The role will reunite O’Quinn with his “Lost” co-star Daniel Dae Kim, who plays Chin Ho Kelly on the cop series.
Out: Crime fighters. In: The ’60s. Superheroes and other crime fighters lost big last season. Superhero shows like “The Cape” and “No Ordinary Family” couldn’t find audiences. A “Wonder Woman” pilot never even got off the ground. Plus, cop shows “The Chicago Code,” “Criminal Minds,” “Dark Blue, “Detroit 1-8-7,” “The Good Guys,” “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” and “Law & Order: Los Angeles” all went away last season. Belatedly following up on the swingin’ ’60s trend that AMC’s “Mad Men” started, network TV green-lighted two major midcentury-set nostalgia pieces. ABC has “Pan Am,” about stewardesses in dawn-of-the-sexual-revolution America. NBC has “The Playboy Club” about waitresses in the same era.