Friday, March 05, 2010

Adam Scott to Parks & Recreation - so what happens to Party Down?

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.

36 comments:

Lis said...

I really love Paul Schneider, but I can see your point there. I guess we don't know yet what kind of character he'll be playing; I only saw one episode of Party Down but I think you're totally right that no matter what he's a great fit at P&R, which just keeps getting better.

Anonymous said...

Given that his show stole the star of her show, do you think Megan Mullally is giving Nick Offerman any grief? Heh.

DolphinFan said...

Between adding Rob Lowe (who's like the Scottie Pippen of TV shows, a great wingman talent who can contribute to Emmys wins and high ratings as long as he's not the best actor in the ensemble--not a problem with Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman in place) and Scott, P&R's star just continues to rise. I now watch P&R off the DVR before I watch THE OFFICE, something I wouldn't have imagined ever happening a year ago.
I agree with the points about regime turnover not being good for holdover shows (the key is for the new boss to have quick successes he is connected to, and therefore is amenable to keeping successes that he's not connected to) and also the Scott/Schneider potential issue. Schneider, like Rashida Jones, is a good actor but not a main part of any of P&R's rise to must-see status. I can imagine both of them being former cast members soon, sorry to say.

halfninja said...

Why do they keep letting the guy who killed Carnivale make decisions about other shows? He clearly doesn't know $h!t about what his audiences want to see.

Tara said...

I don't see why the show couldn't be just as good without Scott and with someone else. No dig to his talent, but it's the sorta show where a transient/changeable cast almost makes sense. It's a true ensemble, so I don't even think of him as a POV character really.

chris_berg said...

Hmmm. I love Party Down but the show would require a major retooling without Adam Scott. Henry's return to Party Down Catering after declaring himself a failure as an actor and his alternating feeling of freedom and despondency over the situation is the dark heart of the show. Party Down could do worse than to have two excellent seasons and call it quits.

So, what do they plan on dong with Adam Scott on P&R? I agree, his very presence would seem to make Mark a redundant character. The Mark/Anne story lines are always the lamest of any given episode because they're just too mundane to be interesting to watch. Anne in particular has been a problematic character. She doesn't work for Parks but she just hangs out a lot. Leslie needs that sort of friend but they need to figure a way to work Anne into the show in a more natural way. Maybe Adam Scott's character will provide some way for them to do that.

Anonymous said...

Adam Scott is ten times better than Paul. Does this mean the rob lowe to p and r rumors are just rumors and won't happen? Would love to see sam seaborne on a more regular basis.

Zach said...

Great blog post Alan, thanks for the in-depth explanation. Was worried with one guy leaving one of my favorite shows for another, didn't know what would happen to the state of Party Down.

My take is I would like to see Party Down hire another person in the Henry role, a la Charlie Sheen taking over for Michael J Fox in Spin City. I know those are two completely different circumstances, but can't think of another good example of the lead leaving one show.

I also too feel like Paul Schneider's days are numbered on Parks and Rec. Both he and Rashida barely are in the shows anymore.

However, nothing would delight me more if on Adam's first ep of Parks and Rec, they found a way to have him say, "Hey, are we having fun yet!?"

rino said...

i love party down and hate to hear this, but understand why he did what he did. the good news is that the nature of the party down business in 'party down' allows for former starts to leave and re-return several times- after all, they're all struggling actors, writers etc. so it's not crazy that one would leave. i'd just hate for 'party down' to get cancelled because it's....http://showstowatch.blogspot.com/2010/02/top-underrated-comedy-party-down.html

Anonymous said...

Wasn't Paul Rudd originally supposed to play Henry? Any way they could get him to take over the lead for season 3? I think that would certainly increase its chances of being renewed.

And I also thank you for explaining the situation with the actors on this show. I knew they were always signed to 1 year deals, but never really understood why.

Col Bat Guano said...

Has anyone been confirmed as leaving P&R because it sure seems like it's going to get crowded by adding Adam Scott and Rob Lowe.

I'm bummed about Scott leaving Party Down, but maybe two great seasons is all we'll get and I'd be fine with that.

Anonymous said...

I know Adam Scott is to be a regular cast member next season, but is Rob Lowe? My understanding was that it was merely a multi-episode arc which bridges the two seasons.

Anonymous said...

Would it be too meta for Henry to leave catering after getting a role on P&R?

Zach said...

Oh that would be awesome! We had a pretty meta reference on Community last night with Mad Men, so if Henry says he just got offered a role on Parks and Rec and has to leave the Party Down catering business, think our collective heads would explode

Hatfield said...

No, that would be the best meta joke ever! Sadly, I bet this season is already in the can, so that would have to pop up in a third season, if they make it.

Why does Variety call shows "skeins?" I've never heard that before, and frankly, the word kind of bothers me.

This is very bittersweet, as Party Down was the funniest thing on TV last year. But Parks and Rec has become so good that I can't begrudge them this signing. Looking forward to it.

tribalism said...

This is really disappointing to hear. As much as I love PAR, I think the show will be alright without Adam Scott. I don't think the same could be said for Party Down, though. Here's hoping Bluto can carry the show through season three if that opportunity comes.

DeeTV said...

First Constance, now Henry...Sigh, this will be a very different Party Down than we had last year.

I like Party Down a lot more than P&R, so I'm sorry to hear this. Glad for the actors, but sorry for the Party Down viewers.

Anonymous said...

first of all alan, how do we know what kind of character scott is playing to make paul redundant?

hes not bringing henry over to p&r. scott can play different. hes versatile. as shown by step brothers

JanieJones said...

I was another disappointed to hear this but I can't begrudge Scott for his choice. I can't imagine Party Down with Scott. I was sad when Lynch left. I'm not a Glee fan.
Hey Anon 11:04am-Isn't Rudd a producer on PD or is my mind playing tricks?

Everyone has said how great P&R has been this season. I tried to watch in it's first season. I wouldn't even know if I could pick it up this late in this season. Am I better off waiting for S2 to become available via DVD or should I start watching now?

Alan Sepinwall said...

I don't know what kind of character he's playing. I'm just looking at the composition of the current cast, and the fact that Mark has become really marginalized this season, and the overlap in Scott's and Schneider's skill set (though Scott can do more, comedy-wise, than I think Schneider can), and guessing. I could be wrong. Scott might be cast as Mark's d-bag brother or something.

Anonymous said...

With all of these newcomers, I hope there's not a lot less Aziz.
Plus, what's with all of these men?
Let's add some more estrogen to P&R.
(No to Lowe!)

PY said...

Sad news about Party Down. Season 1 was most excellent.

Maybe they'll bring in Wallace from Veronica Mars as the new lead character. He's one of the only VM alums who I haven't seen bouncing around other Rob Thomas projects. Actually, Sheriff Lamb might work well, too.

Hyde said...

After seeing Scott in Tell Me You Love Me, one of the bigger downer characters on a very depressing show, I never would have guessed he had any comic potential at all.

debbie said...

This news just ruined my weekend...maybe that's a bit dramatic, but I LOVED Scott's character in PD. I just don't see how the show will work without his self-loathing realism.
I echo's Rino's thoughts, in that I totally understand why Scott would do what he did, thanks to your post, Alan. But it...it just stinks!
On the bright side, I guess I can cancel my Netflix subscription. The prospect of that show's S2 streaming was the only thing keeping me hanging on.

amysusanne said...

I'm bummed, but at least we have a season of PD to look forward to before he leaves. Plus, I'm choosing to be happy that he's going to something I love rather than something I despise. Still, I love Henry. I will really, really miss him when he leaves.

It really would be pretty genius to send Henry off to work on P&R. Hopefully Starz will see fit to give it a third season so that they can go there.

amysusanne said...

I'm bummed, but at least we have a season of PD to look forward to before he leaves. Plus, I'm choosing to be happy that he's going to something I love rather than something I despise. Still, I love Henry. I will really, really miss him when he leaves.

It really would be pretty genius to send Henry off to work on P&R. Hopefully Starz will see fit to give it a third season so that they can go there.

belinda said...

I get that Albrecht want to push his own shows, but isn't Party Down Starz's first original show (that I'm actually aware of and love to watch, and gets good reviews from a lot of critics)? It's kind of Starz's signature (comedy) show! I'm interested to see what shows he'd bring to Starz, but it seems awfully strange that he didn't at least settle the contracts first for Party Down S3 before concentrating on making his own shows. It'll kind of be like AMC if they got a new chief who canceled MM in order to launch BB.

I'm glad that Scott got a gig on a really good show, but this could be disastrous for Party Down, if they'd even get a third season, because the character Henry is sort of the glue that holds all the crazier characters in place. He is the main guy, and it'll be hard to imagine a Party Down without him (heck, we haven't even seen S2 and gotten used to Constance being gone yet, let alone Henry).

I agree, perhaps it is time for Paul Rudd to help PD out of this bind and be "Henry" himself. That I could see the show surviving yet another cast change.

I also wonder if P&R even has room for a second Mark type character (which is the perfect type role for Scott, though I suppose he does good as a dbag too like on VM. I just like him better in the former type roles.) if they don't even have much screentime for Schneider himself.

Sigh, I'm sad.

belinda said...

I get that Albrecht want to push his own shows, but isn't Party Down Starz's first original show (that I'm actually aware of and love to watch, and gets good reviews from a lot of critics)? It's kind of Starz's signature (comedy) show! I'm interested to see what shows he'd bring to Starz, but it seems awfully strange that he didn't at least settle the contracts first for Party Down S3 before concentrating on making his own shows. It'll kind of be like AMC if they got a new chief who canceled MM in order to launch BB.

I'm glad that Scott got a gig on a really good show, but this could be disastrous for Party Down, if they'd even get a third season, because the character Henry is sort of the glue that holds all the crazier characters in place. He is the main guy, and it'll be hard to imagine a Party Down without him (heck, we haven't even seen S2 and gotten used to Constance being gone yet, let alone Henry).

I agree, perhaps it is time for Paul Rudd to help PD out of this bind and be "Henry" himself. That I could see the show surviving yet another cast change.

I also wonder if P&R even has room for a second Mark type character (which is the perfect type role for Scott, though I suppose he does good as a dbag too like on VM. I just like him better in the former type roles.) if they don't even have much screentime for Schneider himself.

Sigh, I'm sad.

Paul said...

Hello, and it's bad enough the lowest-money earning movie in 55 years is going to win the Best Picture Oscar tomorrow night (Hurt Locker), barring a miracle, now I've got to hear that the moral center of the best comedy on TV is leaving?

I blame Albrecht for his foot-dragging on season 3 of PD (and Head Case was cancelled, so PD is the only remaining Starz series from the old regime). Also NBC, which has taken up the Vince McMahon approach to doing business. Sign away a top actor from another show, not so much to help your own, but to hurt the other guys. But I don't dare blame Scott at all. He's got a mortgage to pay like the rest of us.

At least we'll have a second season of Party Down, and I'll be content with that, because I don't think they can carry on without Henry in a possible season 3.

Anonymous said...

With Cappie and Evan already wearing the pink ties over on Greek, they would make great additions to the S3 cast (if there is a S3).

DJ Doena said...

Yesterday I tried to watch P&R. I watched the pilot episode and half the second episode before turning it off.

I didn't even smile once, let alone really laugh.

Can someone explain to my why and where this is supposed to be funny?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Your mistake was watching eps from the first season. Show took a quantum leap forward in season two.

Jack said...

Alan, was Albrecht in charge of HBO when they turned down Party Down previously? If so, I'm officially terrified for its future.

debbie said...

DJ Doena - Alan speaks the truth on P&R's S2. I was the biggest nay-sayer with the show's S1 and had sworn it off until I was bored and started watching a few S2 episodes on Hulu. Now I'm a believer too.

Anonymous said...

I have been thoroughly enjoying P&R. However, I'm getting worried about P&R getting too top heavy. The cast has found great gems in Jerry and Donna in addition to the regulars who are always on point. Things are great now why mess with it? I thought I read that Rob Lowe wanted more screen time on Bros&Sis and therefor left for P&R. So I guess he will be a main character. It sounds like Adam Scott will also be a main character. Those two additions as well as Chris Pratt signing on 2 season as a feature player is making me nervous for Paul Schneider. He is one of my favorite actors and every week he is seeming more and more pushed aside. And while I really like his work elsewhere it seems like he is a forgotten character. Every actor on P&R is on point. What the show needs instead of all these new guys is either to give more stuff for Rashida Jones character to do or develop another strong female character for the show. IMHO

Ben

Anonymous said...

It was just announced that Paul Schneider is leaving Parks and Recreation.