Muse Reporting on the arts and culture

Focus on the family

Entertainment | Fox reboots Last Man Standing as TV networks bring comedy home
by Lynde Langdon
Posted 5/18/18, 01:16 pm

Fox announced Monday it would revive Tim Allen’s conservative-friendly comedy Last Man Standing but insisted it wasn’t trying to copycat ABC and its successful reboot of Roseanne starring President Donald Trump supporter Roseanne Barr.

“We just think it’s a really funny show,” Fox executive Gary Newman said of Last Man Standing at a presentation of next season’s new offerings, insisting the network was already working on the show’s comeback before Roseanne blew up the ratings in March.

For six seasons, Allen played the conservative father to three teenage daughters who grew into young women with varying political viewpoints. After ABC canceled the show a year ago, conservative fans complained that network television had alienated them and discriminated against Allen. When Roseanne triumphed, pleas for Allen’s return grew even louder.

Though Last Man stands out for its positive portrayal of conservatism, it also shares with many of next year’s new and returning comedies a focus on family. Networks are investing more and more in shows like This Is Us, American Housewife, and Speechless and less in shows about 20-somethings, dating, and workplaces. CBS is planning a sitcom called The Neighborhood about a Midwestern family that moves to a rough area of Los Angeles. ABC is set to introduce two new comedies about family life, Single Parents and The Kids Are Alright, and a spinoff of The Goldbergs, which is about a quirky 1980s household.

Roseanne is going to shift, too, focusing less on the first family and more on the Conner family.

“I think that they’re going to stay on the path that they were on toward the end of last season, which is away from politics and toward family,” ABC Entertainment executive Channing Dungey said on a conference call Tuesday. Barr seemed to dispute that later in the day, tweeting, “[D]on’t worry, #Roseanne show fans—next season will be even braver/funnier/timely than this season, despite what anyone mistakenly says.”

The networks’ emphasis on programming about families (warning: family-centric doesn’t necessarily mean family-friendly) contrasts with the proliferation of dark, violent, and kinky programming on cable channels and streaming platforms. Such differentiation could help network television survive the streaming blitzkrieg. And families who “cut the cord” for streaming TV in recent years might decide to break out the rabbit ears and tune back in.

Associated Press/Photo by Kirsty Wigglesworth Associated Press/Photo by Kirsty Wigglesworth A royal fan waves a flag featuring the photos of Prince Harry and Megan Markle in Windsor, England.

Wedding watch

Multiple broadcast networks and cable channels, including CBS, ABC, NBC, CNN, Fox News, BBC America, TLC, HBO, Hallmark, and E!, all plan to carry Prince Harry and Megan Markle’s wedding live Saturday. The ceremony starts at noon London time, which is between 4 and 7 a.m. in the United States. Of course, pre-wedding commentary will start even earlier. The early hour, disdain for celebrity culture, and skepticism of extravagance all would discourage celebrating the occasion. But there are good reasons to watch, too, particularly support for marriage as a God-ordained institution and appreciation for how the royals use their fame and wealth to support myriad charitable causes in Britain and around the world. Instead of wedding gifts, the bride and groom requested donations to a handful of charities, including the Myna Mahila Foundation, which provides hygiene items for poor women in India, and Scotty’s Little Soldiers, which supports children who lost a parent serving in the British military. —L.L.

Associated Press/Photo by Reed Saxon Associated Press/Photo by Reed Saxon Margot Kidder and Christopher Reeve pose at the 51st Annual Academy Awards ceremony in 1979.

Beyond Lois

Margot Kidder, the Canadian actress who starred as Lois Lane opposite Christopher Reeve in the Superman film franchise of the 1970s and ’80s, died Sunday. She was 69. Kidder’s manager, Camilla Fluxman Pines, said the actress died peacefully in her sleep. Kidder struggled to find other roles after playing Superman’s love interest and had a debilitating car accident in 1990. She spent the last decades of her life living in Montana and engaging in political activism, including protesting U.S. military action in Iraq. She was married and divorced three times and once dated then–Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, father of current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. In a radio interview last week, Kidder called him the “love of my life, my true love.” —L.L.

Sentencing date

Bill Cosby’s sentencing for his sexual assault conviction is scheduled for Sept. 24. He’s currently under house arrest at his suburban Philadelphia home. Cosby’s convictions on three counts of aggravated indecent assault likely will be combined into one charge that carries a standard sentence of five to 10 years in prison. —L.L.

Lynde Langdon

Lynde is a WORLD Digital’s managing editor and reports on popular and fine arts. She lives in Wichita, Kan., with her husband and two daughters. Follow Lynde on Twitter @lmlangdon.

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