That whole older chick/younger guy thing?
While it seemed to have worked pretty well for Stella and her groove in movie theaters, where discriminating audiences pay actual money to be entertained, when it comes to appealing to the larger, broadcast-TV-sized masses, it appears to be another matter entirely.
On the small screen it would seem that if you:
Focus on the woman -- uncomfortable-making.
From the guy's point of view -- totally hot.
Which may explain why such a commotion was made this week over news that Ashton Kutcher had sold a pilot to the Fox network about a 30-year-old guy who marries an older woman with kids only a few years younger than he is -- the very same week WB, citing lack of viewer interest, pulled its sitcom about a woman shacking up with her boyfriend on whom she's got a decade or so.
I know, there is that whole TV-imitates-life thing with Kutcher, who recently married Demi Moore, who will be 43 years old next month to Kutcher's 27. And yes, Kutcher is closer in age to Moore's oldest daughter, Rumer, who is 17.
But they've gone to great lengths to conceal from the public the real-life Kutcher-Moore connection to the new series, cleverly setting it in Chicago and making the title character a nightclub owner and his wife a businesswoman.
Then they've gone and called it "30 Year Old Grandpa," because the sitcom couple discover they're pregnant at the same time the wife's 22-year-old daughter announces she's also expecting.
Kutcher really did not invent the whole May-December, or in this case more like May-September, romance phenomenon, though you'd think so based on the hysteria in the media over his relationship with Moore and this week's kerfuffle over his sitcom pilot deal at Fox.
On WB's "Living With Fran," for instance, 48-year-old Fran Drescher plays a woman living with her grown son and with her younger boyfriend, played by 30-year-old Ryan McPartlin.
But, of course, that show was about the woman. And, like we said, it seems that on the small screen:
Older woman shacking up with younger man -- ick.
Younger man shacking up with older woman -- yum.
According to one of the partners in Kutcher's production company, "30 Year Old Grandpa" began as a series about a mother and her daughter having babies at the same time.
"It then dawned on us that the guy's point of view on this was the comedy hook," she said. Or, maybe they realized that Ashton Kutcher pitching a sitcom about Ashton Kutcher would go over big in Hollywood and in the press.
Which it did.
And, possibly, they too had figured out that the older woman don't play so well in these May-December TV romances. Viewers think they're a little sad. Viewers do not like their sitcoms sad. If they did, they'd be watching "Joey."
Kutcher did not even invent the whole pitching-a-series-about-a-May-December-romance-that-bears-an-uncanny-resemblance-to-your-personal-life thing.
ABC fell for that one several years ago. It was called "Then Came You."
That show focused on a pretty 33-year-old book editor and divorcee who moves into a swanky hotel, also in Chicago (coincidence? I think not), where she takes up with one of the 22-year-old waiters who brings her room service, if you know what I mean. It was scrubbed after six weeks.
"Then Came You" was based on the personal experience of Betsy Thomas, one of the show's creators and co-executive producers. After her divorce, Thomas had moved into the Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles and had an affair with her room-service waiter.
Oh, and by the way, "30 Year Old Grandpa" is not the only show in which we will be subjected to Kutcher working through his newly discovered younger/older-folks-hooking-up thing.
His production company also has sold, to WB network, a reality series called "Fountain of Youth." It's like the CBS reality series "Amazing Race." Only each team will consist of a college student paired with a senior citizen.
"Fran" is one of two shows WB has pulled off its lineup, in favor of reruns.
Lots and lots of reruns.
Starting tomorrow, WB is giving "Fran's" cushy post-"Reba" 9:30 p.m. slot on Fridays to its new sitcom "Twins," starring Melanie Griffith as a mother of twin girls who bear no resemblance.
In the 8:30 slot formerly occupied by "Twins," WB will rerun episodes of "What I Like About You" -- the series that airs at 8.
On to Sunday, where WB has pulled its back-to-back "Blue Collar TV" episodes in favor of repeats of Tuesday's new paranormal drama, "Supernatural."
On Monday, where reruns of WB's new one-hour series "Related" have been plugging the hole made when Jerry Bruckheimer's new drama "Just Legal" got the hook, original episodes of "Related" will take over. "Related" reruns are being moved to the show's original time period, Wednesdays at 9.
In a nutshell, WB is pulling expensive original programming out of the way of ABC's "Lost" on Wednesday and ABC's "Desperate Housewives" on Sunday, and filling those hours with repeats.
All told, WB will have 31/2 hours of repeat programming on its 13 hours of prime time.