Cougar Town Boss Bill Lawrence on Show's Move to Cable: 'TBS Is Not Doing This Rinky-Dink'

Cougar Town Season 4Cougar Town lives on… but at what cost?

In the wake of TBS’ official acquisition of the underdog ABC comedy, co-creator Bill Lawrence rang up TVLine to answer some burning questions about the show’s move to cable. Namely, will the budget have to be cut? And will the title change? And does Ellie’s acid tongue now have the freedom to spit out four-letter words? Read on for the answers…

TVLINE | Does the move to TBS mean that ABC was for sure going to cancel the show?
No. You have to remember, Paul Lee is both the president of ABC network and the president of ABC Studios. And Cougar Town is worth money in syndication — that’s also why we got a 15-episode order. The best possible episode order we would’ve gotten from ABC is 13, and even then it would be a midseason replacement and it would be, at most, a utility player. And TBS came at the show hard and passionately and is really looking at making it a flagship show for them.

TVLINE | There was talk of a two-season pickup. What happened?
It is a two-season pickup with an option after the first year — TBS’ option. If the show is a disaster for them — which I doubt — that means they can get out of it. But we did the deals for a two-season pickup. And I would wager that as long as we continue to produce the same quality show, it’ll become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because if the show syndicates, TBS benefits as well.

TVLINE | Will the budget have to be cut?
We haven’t done the budget yet but I can tell you that TBS is paying the exact same license fee that ABC paid. We will have the same cast, the same size writing staff… TBS is not doing this rinky-dink. They’re doing a big-time marketing [push] and really rallying around the show creatively.

TVLINE | Does the move to cable mean you can curse?
I don’t know enough about TBS to answer that, but I would love somebody to ask that question at [next week]’s TBS Upfront so I can find out what their rules are. [Laughs]

TVLINE | Have you spoken to the cast? What has the reaction been?
We like making the show. Everybody involved in the show likes being on it. And the reason the cast had to be in on this whole [TBS] thing early on was that part of the edict that we got from TBS was they weren’t looking for everybody to float in in the fourth year and phone it in. They’re risking a lot both financially and professionally, so they needed to know that all the actors would treat this like what it is for TBS — a first-year show that’s their big comedy priority.

TVLINE | Is a title change back on the table?
Whatever TBS wants. But I doubt it.