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Upfronts roundup: Last-minute renewals, as Parenthood goes down to the wire

You’d think the networks would have pretty much everything figured out in advance of their upfronts presentations to advertisers, which begin Monday, but they were still making and nixing last-minute deals all through Saturday, with at least a couple of shows still hanging in the balance headed into tomorrow, when NBC traditionally announces its schedule. Here’s a quick roundup of today’s big news.

  • ABC made what look like its last moves before its upfront by closing a deal with 20th Century Fox to bring back Last Man Standing for a fourth season and order two new comedies to series. The fourth-season order should give Last Man enough episodes for Fox to shop it around in syndication, and given the way the show holds tight on Fridays, it should be good to go for a while longer even after that. (It’s not out of the question for this one to run six or seven years, prompting many puzzled queries of, “Thats still on?!”) The two new series are the multi-camera comedy Cristela and the single-camera comedy Fresh Off The Boat. The latter is from Dont Trust The BIn Apartment 23 showrunner Nahnatchka Khan, who formerly wrote on American Dad as well. Fox passed on Fatrick, her project over there, but at least she’ll have this show on the air. Based on the memoir by Eddie Huang, the ‘90s period piece is about a family of Chinese Americans leaving Washington, D.C.’s Chinatown for Orlando, Florida, and all the culture clash that ensues. It is the first network show to have a majority Asian-American cast since, and we’re pretty sure we’re not making this up, 1994’s All American Girl, the famously ill-fated Margaret Cho sitcom. Cristela is based on the stand-up of Cristela Alonzo and a pilot presentation was filmed on a shoestring budget when the network initially passed on the script. (Deadline has turned this process into something worthy of a folk ballad. The actors had to do their blocking in a windowless room using paper plates and metal chairs!) Anyway, the presentation apparently tested well enough that ABC picked it up, instead of its Kevin Hart and Henry Winkler projects. So there’s that. Both new sitcoms reflect the network’s apparent effort to double down on diversity this season, which is welcome.
  • As per The Hollywood ReporterTBS, somewhat unexpectedly, renewed Cougar Town for a 13-episode sixth and final season in advance of its upfront presentation next week. No more news was forthcoming, but the renewal will allow the show to crawl past the 100-episodes mark to get to 102 episodes and mean that the show ran for just as many seasons on TBS as it did on its original network, ABC. You also don’t know how hard it was for us to not entitle this article “Six Cougar Town seasons and a Cougar Town movie,” but we somehow resisted the impulse to needlessly antagonize anyone.
  • Over at NBC, the network moved closer to finalizing its schedule for the 2014-15 season by canceling Dracula. The show actually scored slightly higher ratings than the renewed Hannibal, but NBC also stands to make more money from licensing fees on the latter, so it was a fairly easy call, considering the two shows were basically tied. Meanwhile, things are going down to the wire with Parenthood. Deadline reports that the actors have apparently reached a deal to reduce their episode counts (and thereby their pay) for a 13-episode sixth and final season, but no official renewal notice has been forthcoming yet. Still, we’d bet on it. Six Parenthood seasons and a Parenthood movie. (Actually, that last one will be literally true, won’t it? Huh.)

Stick around through the rest of the weekend for more upfronts updates, and we’ll have all the news on the NBC schedule and Bob Greenblatt’s explanation for the cancellation of Community tomorrow.

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