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You know a show is in trouble when its behind-the-scenes drama is far more interesting than anything the writers could have cooked up. That’s exactly the case with NBC’s Up All Night, which could have been a hilarious series about busy first-time parents played by Will Arnett and Christina Applegate. Instead, it took bizarre twists behind the cameras that may have doomed it from the start.
TV Guide looked at the series, revealing that its problems go back to 2011, when the show was first conceived by Emily Spivey. The series gathered plenty of star talent with Arnett, Applegate, Maya Rudolph and legendary producer Lorne Michaels. A pilot was produced with Applegate’s Reagan as a PR executive and Rudolph as her crazy boss.
But then, Bridesmaids became a huge hit, so a new pilot was filmed that dropped the PR angle and gave Rudolph’s Ava a TV show. As the first season developed, Applegate and Arnett’s relationship with their newborn took a backseat to the TV show.
“That was Lorne's creation,” an insider told TV Guide about the TV angle. “It wasn't meant to be there.” Another said that the Rudolph.Applegate relationship ruined the “essence” of the show.
At that point, it was becoming clear that Spivey’s vision for Up All Night wasn’t what viewers were seeing. So, flash forward to season two. Ava’s show is suddenly cancelled, leaving Reagan without a job. Luka Jones comes in to play Reagan’s brother. At this point, the showrunner shuffle starts. Jon Pollack leaves, Tucker Cawley (Everybody Loves Raymond) steps in. Then Crawly leaves and Nurse Jackie’s Linda Wallem steps in.
Now, this is where Michaels comes up with the idea to film the show in front of an audience after the 11 season two episodes bombed this fall. That announcement was made in October and in February, Christina Applegate leaves. There have been several bizarre ideas to try to keep the show going, TV Guide notes. One involved country star Melissa Etheridge, while another had Lisa Kudrow replacing Applegate.
The craziest idea, though, has to be one that had Arnett, Applegate and Rudolph breaking the fourth wall to tell the audience that they starred in a show called Up All Night. There was also an attempt to write-in Rudolph’s pregnancy.
TV Guide reports that no episodes in front of an audience have actually been shot. Applegate is gone and agents for Arnett and Rudolph want them to move on. “They wanted to get off the show, but they were scared of the wrath of Lorne,” an insider said.
NBC hasn’t commented or confirmed if Up All Night has been cancelled, but at this point it’s over.