Hourlong romantic comedy anthology has been pulled from the 10 p.m. Thursday slot because both Cindy Chupack has asked to be relieved of her showrunner duties, and the character played by Becky Newton has to be reimagined. In the pilot, Newton's character is a virgin but in real life she is pregnant.
To fill the timeslot, NBC is scheduling Donald Trump's "The Apprentice." Reality series will run 15 hours over 13 weeks, with "Love Bites" tentatively coming back in January, if not before. Trump's original "The Apprentice" hasn't run since spring 2007.
Production on "Love Bites," which has not begun yet, will be pushed back several weeks to accommodate Chupack's new status -- she'll remain as a writer -- as well having the network and exec producers determine what to do with both Newton's character and how to handle the Jordana Spiro situation. The actress has left the show because she is contractually obligated to TBS' half-hour comedy "My Boys," for which she has starred several years.
Citing "a few circumstances out of our control," NBC's exec VP of current programming Vernon Sanders said the Peacock "learned from the 'Parenthood' experience to take time to get things right" and didn't want to rush "Love Bites" on to the fall sked while the production dilemmas were still in flux.
NBC said Chupack stepping down as showrunner was the former "Sex and the City" exec producer's personal decision. "There was something going on with her privately, but it is not an illness, and definitely has to do with some personal stress she's dealing with."
In her statement to the press, Chupack stated: "'Love Bites' is incredibly important to me, and it's been gratifying that NBC feels the same. Launching an anthology series, which breaks the form in so many ways, is a huge undertaking, and I strongly feel that I can be most helpful not showrunning, but writing. … It's just become clear that for several reasons, some of them personal, this change (and a little more time) is what we need to launch this show properly."
No new showrunner has been announced as a replacement for Chupack, but exec producers Marc Buckland and Shelley McCrory worked closely with Chupack on the pilot and may be asked to carry the load. Eric Fellner and Tim Bevan are also exec producers.
NBC will keep the 13-episode order for "Love Bites," and said although the plan for now is to launch the show in January in the identical 10 p.m. Thursday timeslot, there is also the possibility the show can launch in November or soon after if another show in the Peacock lineup isn't performing and needs to be replaced.
The change will not affect the debut of the new season of "Celebrity Apprentice," which is still skedded for March.
As for Spiro, while she was originally intended to be a series regular, she will not be able to remain on the show as she is committed to "My Boys." There is the possibility she could return in several episodes in a guest star role.
Sanders said there are no current plans to replace Spiro with a different character, or to recast the same character with a new actress.
One advantage NBC may have in moving "Love Bites" to midseason is that it allows the net to give it a more specialized marketing push. If the skein was launching in fall, as originally planned, it would have to compete with a cavalcade of new shows and could get lost in the shuffle. This way, as the Peacock did with "Parenthood," "Love Bites" could receive extra TLC from the net in terms of promotion.
"Love Bites," from Universal Media Studios and Working Title Television, stars Newton, Greg Grunberg and Constance Zimmer.