Tag Archives: Billy Gardell

Billy Gardell: No Hard Feelings if Melissa McCarthy Leaves ‘Mike & Molly’ After Next Season

Mike and Molly

Mike and Molly will be returning for a sixth season, but beyond that, the show’s future is likely in the hands of its star, Melissa McCarthy, who will need to decide if she wants to sign a new contract for the CBS sitcom or become a full-time movie star.

News leaked out Wednesday, via this since-deleted Instagram post from Mike & Molly producer Julie Bean, that CBS had picked up the comedy for a sixth season (CBS, which tends to announce all of its renewals at once, hasn’t confirmed the news. UPDATE: CBS officially renewed Mike & Molly, Mom and 2 Broke Girls early Thursday afternoon).

Mike and Molly Instagram

While McCarthy certainly seems excited by the Season 6 pickup in that photo, it remains unclear if the actress will want to keep her day job when her contract is up next spring. Right now, McCarthy and her co-star Billy Gardell are “signed through next season,” Gardell told me earlier this year. “Then I’m sure they’ll talk about that.”

Since the series launched in 2010, the actress has become one of Hollywood’s biggest movie stars thanks to films like Bridesmaids and The Heat. Will McCarthy, who is squeezing in another two movies during her Mike & Molly summer hiatus — including the much-anticipated Ghostbusters reboot — want to stay tethered to a CBS sitcom when she could be making even more films (and a lot more money) each year? If the answer is no and McCarthy opts to depart, Gardell says there will be no hard feelings.

“Listen, when you’re that big of a movie star … she’s put her time in here,” Gardell says. “If we go seven, eight years, that would be wonderful. But we also all respect and love each other and understand business is business. She’s a huge movie star, so if she chooses to do movies in another year, we wish her nothing but the best.”

Gardell, who says he is “absolutely” thrilled for McCarthy’s movie success, tells me that he’s not trying to convince her to stay (at least, not yet). “Listen, nobody controls anybody’s destiny,” he says of his costar. “She has been incredibly gracious, hasn’t changed at all and has brought the same love and professionalism every week.”

The actor credits McCarthy’s meteoric rise for convincing executive producer Chuck Lorre and the Mike & Molly producers to make a major change last season, and shaking up the format —  where McCarthy’s Molly was a teacher who was getting ready to have a baby with Gardell’s Mike — to better play up her physical comedy strengths. “That was a scary change to make mid-direction,” he says. “But Chuck very smartly foresaw we were painting ourselves into a corner by heading for the pregnancy, because you’ve got the best physical comedian in 20 years. Let’s not put her in the hospital; let’s let her do her thing. And I think it’s been done smoothly and right now we’re doing great.”

Mike & Molly is not a huge hit for CBS, but as I wrote in my Adweek cover story on the state of TV comedy, it has become a prized utility player for the network, coming off the bench each midseason to plugs leaks in the schedule from the fall. “You get to this place where you know your fans will wait for you, and you know they’re going to come back strong,” Gardell told me in that story. “And the network knows that, so they know they have a little room to try new stuff.”

But if McCarthy opts to leave TV behind, CBS will only have that safety net for one more season.

The Not-So-Funny State of TV Comedy

state of comedy

While I’ve written dozens of stories for Adweek’s site since last fall, I hadn’t yet written anything for the actual magazine — until today. I made my Adweek print debut in the best and biggest possible way: with a pair of cover stories tied to Thursday’s Two and a Half Men series finale.

Jon Cryer Adweek cover

In addition to my Jon Cryer Q&A, I also spoke with a dozen network presidents, comedy showrunners and sitcom stars for this deep dive into the not-so-funny state of broadcast comedy as two more long-running sitcoms prepare to say farewell. As I wrote,

With CBS’ How I Met Your Mother closing shop last year, Two and a Half Men wrapping this week, and Parks and Recreation—NBC’s top-rated sitcom in adults 18-49, airing its series finale on Feb. 24—broadcast comedy is in a state of transition. While formidable comedy blocks remain on Sunday night on Fox (The Simpsons, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Family Guy), Thursday on CBS (Big Bang, Mom, Men) and Wednesday on ABC (The Middle, The Goldbergs, Modern Family, Black-ish), sitcom ratings are down across the board, and this season is littered with failures: ABC’s Manhattan Love Story and Selfie, NBC’s A to Z and Bad Judge, Fox’s Mulaney, and CBS’ The McCarthys and The Millers (the latter last year’s top-rated sitcom in 18-49 but canceled this season after just four episodes).

The news seems grim, but no one is ready to pull the plug on network comedies:

Despite all the struggles, in conversations with network executives, showrunners, stars and media buyers, a surprising consensus emerges: There is still plenty of fight left in the sitcom. Comedy might not be the dominant broadcast force it was a decade ago, but it is still an essential part of the TV landscape and everyone remains optimistic that the next hit could happen as early as, well, this week.

This was such a fascinating and fun story to report and piece together, thanks to invaluable insights from network presidents like CBS’s Nina Tassler and Fox’s Dana Walden, comedy executive producers like Mike Schur (Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Parks and Recreation), Mindy Kaling (The Mindy Project), Stephen Falk (You’re the Worst), Robert Garlock (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) and Chris Miller (The Last Man on Earth) and sitcom stars like Cryer, Kaling and Billy Gardell (Mike & Molly).

Almost all of them arrived at the same conclusion: it’s only a matter of when, not if, the next hit sitcom is created.

Hollywood remains solidly confident that TV’s next great comedy is just around the corner. “Television’s a very cyclical business,” points out Walden, noting that when she started at 20th Century Fox Television in 1992, the powers that be had decided dramas were done. Then, the studio developed The X-Files for Fox and Steven Bochco created NYPD Blue for ABC, and they were suddenly hot again. “You can’t ever rule out a genre of storytelling,” says Walden. “There’s going to be another breakthrough comedy, and then we’re going to say, ‘Oh, comedy is back!'”

In addition to following the link and reading the whole story, make sure you pick up this week’s issue!

The Not-So-Funny State of TV Comedy