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Entertainment

Some guerrilla warfare on behalf of 'Cougar Town'

January 10th, 2012 3:17 pm by DAVID BAUDER, AP Television Writer

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) -- Some Hollywood-style guerrilla warfare has earned the maker of ABC's sitcom "Cougar Town" some notice, but didn't achieve his goal - at least not yet.

The series that stars Courteney Cox as a man-hungry divorcee was last seen on ABC in May 2011, and wasn't on the network's fall schedule. It hasn't been canceled, but no return date has been set, either.

With ABC bringing many of its stars, show creators and executives to a series of news conferences at a Pasadena hotel this week, "Cougar Town" creator Bill Lawrence took action. He rented the Langham Hotel's bar Monday night, brought Cox and others involved in the show, and invited dozens of reporters in for free food and drinks.

Lawrence's message was clear: Don't forget about me.

Given the uncertainty over his show's future, Lawrence said he didn't want to appear at any of ABC's news conferences Monday and Tuesday.

"I didn't want to sit up there clapping and handshaking and acting like I'm happy, because I'm not," Lawrence said. (He wasn't invited anyway, ABC spokeswoman Hope Hartman said).

Lawrence, a successful 43-year-old producer who also created "Spin City" and "Scrubs," could afford to throw the party. He suggested there were possible financial reasons for ABC delaying the show's third season, since money problems might mean the network could order fewer episodes. The risk for the show is that the longer it's away, the greater the chance fans will forget about it.

Asked how mad he was at ABC, on a scale of one to 10, he answered: "Four. But if they cancel the show, it will be an 11."

There are no hard feelings, ABC Entertainment President Paul Lee said Tuesday.

"I used to be Bill, when I used to be sort of a pirate show runner," Lee said, using the TV industry's term for a producer. "He does such a good job of getting his audience excited, and getting a group of people around it. He's the pirate and I'm the Navy, in this case. I miss being on the pirate ship."

Lee said "Cougar Town" was tentatively scheduled to return sometime in March, and the network will make its decision within the next few weeks. He said the show is one of a handful of sharp, smart comedies he is trying to build into ABC's schedule.

"We haven't got the jigsaw in place for where we want to put it," he said.

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