After being fabled in urban lore for years, the Season of the Showrunner Switcheroo has finally come to be. Ever since the network upfronts announced which series would be returning for the upcoming television season, the public has heard news of several shows dropping their existing showrunners and bringing in new ones. The latest in the trend is Last Man Standing, the Tim Allen sitcom that just concluded its first season on ABC. EW reports that original showrunner Kevin Abbott is leaving his post to take the lead on the new ABC program Malibu Country, starring Reba McEntire. Tim Doyle (who has served as EP on The Big Bang Theory and Rules of Engagement) will be assuming control of Last Man Standing.
The news might have been more jarring if the world wasn't quickly becoming desensitized to the idea of showrunner swapping. Recently, the HBO hit True Blood (which aired its Season 5 premiere on Sunday) announced that creator and showrunner Alan Ball would be stepping down, and the series executive producer Mark Hudis would be taking charge for the developing sixth season. You can read more about this here.
The Showtime dramedy Nurse Jackie nabbed former Dexter writer/showrunner Clyde Phillips to lead. Former series heads Liz Brixius and Linda Wallem dropped out of production in light of Nurse Jackie's relocation to New York. You can read more about this here.
Prior to this, it was announced that Cougar Town, which is moving from ABC to TBS, would be giving creative control to Ric Swartzlander. Original showrunners/creators Bill Lawrence and Kevin Biegel will remain attached as executive producers — they and the cast have expressed a positive attitude about the change-up. You can read more about this here.
Back in March, Paul Lieberstein, The Office's showrunner and onscreen sad sack (better known as Toby Flenderson), announced that he would be giving up his top dog position in order to head The Office's developing Dwight Schrute-centric spinoff, The Farm. No word yet on who will take Lieberstein's spot as showrunner. You can read more about this here.
The freshman comedy Whitney didn't quite earn its keep during its first year on NBC, but the network is bent on finding the magic it believes to be inherent in its star's television presence. Whitney has hired Friends vet Wil Calhoun to take over; previous showrunner Betsy Thomas will remain EP status. You can read more about this here.
But the greatest deal of outrage has come in response to the replacement of Dan Harmon as showrunner on his cult phenomenon, NBC's Community. Harmon was removed by the network from his position and granted an executive producer credit; outside writers David Guarascio and Moses Port were brought on to head the series. You can read more about this here, but try not to get too depressed.
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While it comes as no big surprise, it was confirmed at the NBC upfronts in New York City on Monday that the upcoming seventh season of the Emmy-winning comedy 30 Rock will be its last. Nerds! NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt officially made the announcement: "I know Tina [Fey], Alec [Baldwin], and the rest will deliver some of their best work," he said, adding, "We think the world of Tina and hope she will be in the NBC family for years to come."
With the Season 6 finale airing this Thursday, we can only ponder what will be in store for the strangest batch of nuts on prime time television (you lucked out, Dance Moms) for Season 7. But here's what we hope to see happen to the 30 Rock gang when the whole thing wraps up next year. (Well, other than another visit from Oprah or Wesley Snipes.) Liz: Forget you, Murphy Brown! If there's anyone who's going to be able to raise a child without the help of her colleagues (because let's face it, no baby should ever be brought around TGS studio) it's Liiiiiiiiiiz Lemon. Okay, I really want Oprah to come back. Besides, she will be just fine with the help of her boyfriend, hot dog van entrepeneur Criss (James Marsden.) I have no doubt that Liz could raise a baby solo, but I love the idea of her settling down with someone finally worthy of her awesomeness. Jack: Speaking of families, as much as it would be nice to see Jack wind up with Nancy Donovan (Julianne Moore) Avery's return was a reminder as to what a good couple they make. We're wicked sorry, Nancy. And Good God, someone make him the CEO already. The man has more than paid his dues. Jenna: After Mickey Rourke tries to unsuccessfully ruin her sponsored celebrity wedding, Jenna lives happily ever after with Paul (well, their warped idea of happily ever after, anyway) and lands the lead role in a rock n' roll biopic about Joan Jett called Jessie Jarmp-Jarmp. Tracy: Tracy finally EGOTs! In fact, he DEGOTs after winning a daytime Emmy for his work on Queen of Jordan. Kenneth: The greatest NBC page of all-time entrusts his duties to Hazel so that he can finally go back from whence he came, Stone Mountain, Georgia. Grizz and Dot Com: The pair pen an episode of Downton Abbey that makes them two of the most sought-after writers in the industry. They still never leave Tracy's side. Hornberger: Pete rejoins Loverboy and heads back on the road with them for a reunion tour. "Yes, Hornberger!" Lutz: Lutz totally redeems himself and becomes a functional, decent member of society who knows how to order a proper lunch. Just kidding, Lutz is the worst. What do you hope to see happen to the 30 Rock characters? Who do you hope they bring back in the last 13 episodes of Season 7? Sound off in the comments section. [Photo credit: NBC] (Additional reporting by Kelsea Stahler)
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