FX gives George Lopez a new series; ‘GMA’ still going strong

April 18, 2013

George Lopez, who was pushed out of TBS’s late-night lineup a couple of years ago after Conan O’Brien got his time slot, has landed at FX, where he’ll star in a sitcom called “Saint George.”

It’s Lopez’s first starring role in a sitcom since his ABC series “George Lopez,” which ended in 2007.

This time, Lopez is playing a successful engineer. Naturally, he has a demanding ex-wife and an overbearing mother. He also has an 11-year-old son and an uncle, who were described as neither demanding nor overbearing in Thursday’s announcement.

The “Saint” part of the show’s name stems from his character’s having a new role as a philanthropist; he likes “giving back” by teaching history weekly at a night school.

The show was created by producing partners Matt Williams and David McFadzean, whose credits include “A Different World,” “Roseanne” and “Home Improvement.”


Comedian George Lopez. (John Shearer)

And like FX’s Charlie Sheen sitcom “Anger Management,” Lopez’s new comedy comes from Lionsgate and Debmar-Mercury — the latter being the outfit that gave the world the 10/90 TV series model. It works like this: A network agrees to air 10 episodes of a new series; if those 10 episodes reach an agreed-upon ratings threshold, it triggers an automatic pickup of 90 more episodes. That gets the producers to the magic 100 episodes needed for syndication in a fraction of the time it takes under the traditional TV network model, in which roughly 13 to 24 episodes are ordered per season.

The new show will reflect Lopez’s “no-holds-barred comedic take on the tensions surrounding race, class, sex and family life in Los Angeles through the eyes of a man straddling two separate cultures,” Lionsgate Television’s president, Kevin Beggs, said Thursday.

Because of Lopez’s strong following in the rapidly growing Hispanic audience, the first 10 episodes are sure to succeed, the Debmar-Mercury guys insisted.

Lopez’s TBS late-night show, “Lopez Tonight,” debuted on the cable net in November 2009. When TBS signed the recently booted “Tonight Show” host Conan O’Brien, Lopez’s show got pushed to a later time slot. Lopez said at the time that he supported the move. But his ratings took a hit, and his show was pulled in the summer of ’11.

‘GMA’ extends lead

It was one year ago last week that ABC’s morning infotainment show “Good Morning America” overtook NBC’s like-minded “Today” show in overall audience. On Thursday, Nielsen issued ratings for that first-anniversary week.

In 2012, when “GMA” snuffed “Today’s” 852-week streak at the top, it did so with 31,000 more viewers tuned in. One year later, the margin was a much more substantial 660,000 viewers.

“GMA” is up, year to year, by 6 percent among all viewers, and by 4 percent among 25- to 54-year-olds, who are the currency of TV news-programming ad sales.

“Today,” meanwhile, is down 6 percent in overall viewers and 11 percent in the key age bracket.

In the important age bracket, “GMA’s” win was its 10th consecutive weekly victory — the show’s longest winning streak in the demographic group in nearly two decades.

But the biggest year-to-year leap, percentage-wise, belonged to “CBS This Morning”; it was up 20 percent in overall audience and 5 percent in the age bracket.

Sure, “CBSTM” averaged 3.0 million viewers, putting it laps behind “Today’s” 4.8 million and “GMA’s” 5.5 million. But the CBS show can boast that it’s cracked 3 million viewers five times this TV season to date: the week Hurricane Sandy hit; three weeks of the recent February “sweep”; and last week.

To read previous columns by Lisa de Moraes, go to washingtonpost.com/ tvblog.

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