Fans of Cougar Town can breathe sighs of relief and raise oversize glasses of wine: The cul-de-sac comedy starring Courteney Cox will live to see another season — just not on ABC. Though beloved by a cult audience and appreciated by critics, Cougar Town was the network’s lowest-rated sitcom, averaging 5.3 million viewers. With odds likely slim for a fourth-season renewal, the series was instead sold by ABC Studios to TBS, where it will help build that network’s comedy brand, which currently includes Conan, Tyler Perry‘s Meet the Browns and For Better or Worse, the magazine-set Men at Work (debuting May 24), and some very highly rated repeats of The Big Bang Theory.
”At best we could have hung on [at ABC], like the way you hang on to the side of a cliff, and hopefully get to a certain number of episodes,” says exec producer Bill Lawrence, who created the series with Kevin Biegel. ”Now we’re going to get a shot on a different playing field at being a company’s flagship comedy.” TBS — which won’t require the producers to make any significant budget cuts — plans to air a 15-episode season of Cougar Town in early 2013 and holds an option for another 15, which would bring the tally to a syndication-friendly 91 episodes. (The deal will also allow the network to air the show’s first three seasons.) How does the Cougar crew feel about their broadcast-to-cable move? ”We were out celebrating at some ridiculous Hollywood bar the night before it became official because we’d gotten a phone call,” says Lawrence. ”So even though it’s a weeknight, and we’re all over 40 except for Dan [Byrd, who plays Cox’s adult son], we were drinking tequila, acting like idiots.” Yeah, sounds like they’ll be just fine.