Yesterday offered a development in TV that's the epitome of a good news/bad news situation. The good news: the very funny, versatile, likable Adam Scott is joining the cast of "Parks and Recreation," which is probably my favorite comedy on television right now. The bad news: this means Scott won't be available to be a regular on "Party Down" (one of my favorite comedies from last year) if Starz orders another season after the one set to debut on April 23.
Some thoughts on this - plus a comment from "Party Down" producer Rob Thomas on where this leaves his show - coming up after the jump...
Because "Party Down" is on a cable channel that's really just getting into the scripted TV business and isn't yet throwing around a ton of money, they've had to be creative about how they get actors. So the entire "Party Down" cast signed one-year contracts for the first season, which gave each actor the flexibility to go do something else (i.e., something more lucrative) if an offer came along a year later, rather than being locked in to a below-market contract. That's why the show lost Jane Lynch to "Glee" after the first season, though Lynch will guest star in one episode of season two.
The actors were again on one-year deals for season two. I interviewed Scott and co-star Lizzy Caplan back at press tour, and one of the things that was on both their minds was what they were going to do about pilot season this year. Starz just brought in a new chief executive in former HBO boss Chris Albrecht, and Albrecht hasn't seemed to be in any hurry to renew the show. And that, in turn, left the show's actors in a pickle: do they sit out pilot season and hope Albrecht would renew it down the line - and, therefore, risk not having a steady job of any kind next season - or do they go for another, possibly more secure job, even if it means abandoning a show everybody enjoys making?
Well, Scott clearly, and understandably, made his choice, and one show's loss is another's gain. He seems to make Paul Schneider redundant on "Parks and Rec," as he can do most of the stuff Schneider does, only funnier, but his dry, earthy style should be a really good match for what Amy Poehler, Nick Offerman and company have been doing this season.
And what does this mean for "Party Down"? Again, there's an entire season in the can with Scott as the lead. (I've seen the first five episodes, and they're very funny.) But losing the show's central, point-of-view character seems tough, so I asked Rob Thomas what his options are going forward, should a third season be in the cards:
"Adam will be allowed to do three guest star spots for us," Thomas said. "We can definitely still do the show without Adam, though we're all collectively entering about the third stage of grief over here. We'd much, much prefer to be doing the show with him. Adam hated leaving the show, but they made him an offer he couldn't refuse, and in a world where our 'Party Down' future isn't guaranteed, he understandably felt like he needed to take the offer. We've been told that in order to return for a third season, our second season numbers need to come up from where they were. We're praying that, even with Adam gone, Starz continues with a big marketing campaign for Season 2."
I want to be optimistic, but the way Albrecht has dragged his feet on this - knowing full well that something like this might happen - doesn't fill me with hope. It's an unfortunate fact of Hollywood life that when a new administration takes over a channel or studio, they become invested in pushing their own projects, rather than supporting the stuff that existed before they got there. If "Party Down" were to turn into the cable-sized hit it deserves to be, Albrecht wouldn't get much credit, because it pre-dated his arrival.
So enjoy the season two episodes and hope for the best, but brace for the worst. And, if nothing else, three episodes of Scott in a hypothetical season three would be better than only one of Lynch this year.