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TV Bulletin Board (Wed., March 19) -- Fonda, Tomlin re-team in Netflix sitcom from Friends creator


The 9 to 5 crew: Tomlin, Parton and Fonda circa 1980.

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Audience demographics be damned -- especially if you’re Netflix and you don’t release audience figures anyway.

The “world’s leading Internet television network” announced Wednesday that it’s teaming golden agers Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin in Grace and Frankie, a sitcom set to premiere next year.

The head executive producer is Marta Kauffman, who created Friends and hasn’t done a whole lot else since that hit series left NBC in 2004. A Netflix publicity release describes Grace and Frankie as “warm, very funny and anything but wholesome.”

Fonda, 76, and Tomlin, 74, play wives whose husbands “announce they are in love with each other and plan to get married.” Uh-oh, Grace (Fonda) and Frankie (Tomlin) “find their lives both turned upside down and to their dismay, permanently intertwined. Eventually, to their surprise, they find they have each other.”

The premise isn’t entirely unlike TV Land’s Happily Divorced, whose star, Fran Drescher, learned that her husband is gay. Drawn from her real-life experiences with ex-hubby Peter Marc Jacobson, the comedy ran for two seasons before being canceled in August of last year.

Tomlin recently played Reba McEntire’s crotchety mom in the since canceled ABC comedy Malibu Country. Fonda recurrently has played the powerhouse CEO of a communications conglomerate in HBO’s The Newsroom, currently in production on its announced final season. Tomlin and Fonda last acted together in the 1980 feature film 9 to 5, which oddly is not mentioned in the Netflix release despite a headline touting them as “Back Together Again.”

Thirteen episodes of Grace and Frankie have been ordered. As usual, Netflix will make them all instantly available for streaming on the series’ launch date.

*** CBS’ Late Show with David Letterman, being badly hammered among advertiser-prized 18-to-49-year-olds in its New York-based face-off with NBC’s The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, does not seem overly concerned with skewing old.

The program has announced 89-year-old former president Jimmy Carter as its featured guest on Monday, March 24th. Carter will be touting his latest book, A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence and Power.

Fallon also is going the former politician route, booking Arnold Schwarzenegger, hardly a youngster at 66 but still young enough to be Carter’s son. The ex-California governor’s promotional considerations are less lofty. He’ll be plugging his new action movie, Sabotage.

***In another old-timer development, FX has inked Billy Crystal, 66, to star in his first prime-time TV series since Soap. He’ll join Josh Gad (The Book of Mormon) in The Comedians, playing a “superstar veteran” comic paired with an “edgier up-and-coming” one. It’s due in 2015, with a 13-episode first season planned.

Crystal was a regular on Saturday Night Live in the 1984-’85 season.

***Starting this fall, MyNetworkTV will be the exclusive broadcast network home for repeats of The Walking Dead. It’s currently the No. 1 scripted series in all of television among advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-olds. In D-FW, MyNetworkTV programming is carried on KDFI-TV (Ch. 27).

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