NEW YORK POST - How Shonda Rhimes, Chuck Lorre and Netflix are kicking networks to the curb
How Shonda Rhimes, Chuck Lorre and Netflix are kicking networks to the curb
By Robert Rorke
Something very mainstream is happening over at Netflix.
The digital streaming service — which began life as a platform for other networks’ shows — upended everyone’s notions on how, when and what we would watch on the small screen (or computer). With series including “House of Cards,” “Orange Is the New Black,” “House of Cards,” “Stranger Things” and “The Crown,” it offered original programming that cut across all genres and demographics — taking spots on the Emmy ballot that were once the province of certain cable and broadcast series.
The big four broadcast networks are effectively being pushed one step closer to oblivion while Netflix continues to move toward adopting their business model.
Just look at who they’re making deals with: big names from broadcast television including Carol Burnett, David Letterman, Shonda Rhimes, Jerry Seinfeld and Chuck Lorre. They even signed the Coen Brothers — creators of quirky movies including “Hail, Caesar!” and “The Big Lebowski” — to create a Western anthology TV series called “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.”
Next week (Aug. 25) Netflix will premiere CBS comedy king Chuck Lorre’s (“Two and a Half Men,” “Mom”) newest series, “Disjointed,” a comedy starring Oscar winner Kathy Bates as an unregenerate hippie running a marijuana dispensary. That’s one month before the CBS premiere of Lorre’s new sitcom “Young Sheldon,” the much-anticipated prequel to yet another Lorre hit, “The Big Bang Theory” (TV’s most-watched sitcom).
This week, Netflix announced that Rhimes is leaving ABC Studios, her home for 15 years, where she knocked one hit after another — including “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal” — for a four-year pact while, earlier this summer, it announced that Burnett will host an unscripted comedy series along the lines of “Kids Say the Darndest Things” called “A Little Help with Carol Burnett.” Coincidentally (or maybe not), the networks passed on Burnett’s 2017 pilot, “Household Name.” Oh, and earlier this year, Netflix premiered broadcast TV pioneer Norman Lear’s (“All in the Family”) updated version of his hit 1970s CBS sitcom “One Day at a Time,” with a trendy Latin cast. Meanwhile, Netflix chief Ted Sarandos has pledged to spend $7 billion on programming next year.
When it comes to Netflix, everyone’s fair game. The push to add mainstream fare and artists to its roster comes at an interesting time for the streaming service. Several of its more experimental programs, including “Sense8” and “Gypsy” (starring Naomi Watts) were canceled this year. Another contributing factor: Disney is going to withdraw its movies from Netflix in 2018 and launch its own streaming service the following year — and the other networks are sure to follow suit. Their feeling is, why allow Netflix to stream their product without the benefit of sharing its super-secret subscriber demographics?
With deals already in place with “Seinfeld” star Jerry Seinfeld (to contribute specials and new episodes of his Web series “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee”) — and fellow comedian Chris Rock on board the Netflix train — there aren’t many heavy hitters who aren’t working for the streaming service.
Who’s next? Steve Levitan and Christopher Lloyd, executive producers of ABC’s “Modern Family”? One would think someone like “Law & Order” czar Dick Wolf, without whom NBC would probably have to go on life support, is off-limits — but you never know. Three weeks ago, one might have said the same thing about Rhimes.