Created by Brad Hall
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 2
Final episode date 20 May 2003
Composer(s) Oscar Castro-Neves
Original language(s) English
First episode date 26 February 2002
|Starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Cast Julia Louis‑Dreyfus, Steve Carell, Lauren Bowles, Peter Stormare, Darren Boyd
Watching ellie at the restaurant
Watching Ellie is an American sitcom that starred Julia Louis-Dreyfus and was created by her husband, Brad Hall. It aired on NBC from February 2002 to May 2003, though only sixteen episodes were broadcast before it was canceled due to low ratings.
Premise and formats
There were two incarnations of Watching Ellie, neither of which met with any success. Both focused on the character of cabaret singer Ellie Riggs (Louis-Dreyfus), with markedly different approaches.
The first was directed by Ken Kwapis, known for his innovative work in single-camera sitcoms such as The Larry Sanders Show, Malcolm in the Middle and The Bernie Mac Show. Each 22-minute episode was meant to portray a 22-minute slice of Ellie's life, in real time. In the earliest episodes, a clock was even shown in the corner of the screen. Thirteen episodes were filmed but only ten aired before the series was put on indefinite hiatus (the remaining first-season episodes have never aired).
Nearly a full year later, the show reappeared as a more traditional sitcom, with multiple cameras and a live studio audience (plus an added laugh track). This version fared even worse than its predecessor and was canceled after six episodes.
The show also cast Lauren Bowles as Ellie's sister Susan. In real life, Bowles is Louis-Dreyfus' half-sister (they have the same mother).
Louis-Dreyfus and Hall earned salaries of $350,000 each per episode and their contracts stipulated 15 episodes per season, rather than the usual 22. Carsey-Werner-Mandabach Productions, the original production company, dropped out because of the high costs, and was replaced by NBC Studios.
The show was pitched to ABC, CBS, Fox and HBO, who all turned down the series.