Watching Ellie

Watching Ellie is an American television sitcom that starred Julia Louis-Dreyfus and was created by her husband, Brad Hall and was aired on NBC from February 26, 2002 to May 20, 2003, though only sixteen episodes were broadcast before it was canceled due to low ratings.

Watching Ellie
Created byBrad Hall
StarringJulia Louis-Dreyfus
Steve Carell
Don Lake
Lauren Bowles
Peter Stormare
Darren Boyd
Composer(s)Oscar Castro-Neves
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes19 (3 unaired)
Camera setupSingle-camera (season 1)
Multi-camera (season 2)
Running time30 minutes
Production company(s)Hammond's Reef Productions
NBC Studios
Original networkNBC
Picture format480i (SDTV)
Original releaseFebruary 26, 2002 (2002-02-26) 
May 20, 2003 (2003-05-20)

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.[1]

The show was pitched to ABC, CBS, Fox and HBO, who all turned down the series.[2]



SeasonEpisodesOriginally airedRankAverage viewership
(in millions)
First airedLast aired
110February 26, 2002 (2002-02-26)April 23, 2002 (2002-04-23)#5510.0
26April 15, 2003 (2003-04-15)May 20, 2003 (2003-05-20)#798.6

Season 1 (2002)

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateUS viewers
11"Pilot"Ken KwapisBrad HallFebruary 26, 2002 (2002-02-26)16.7
22"Wedding"Ken KwapisBrad HallMarch 5, 2002 (2002-03-05)12.5
33"Dinner Party"Ken KwapisBrad HallMarch 12, 2002 (2002-03-12)11.1
44"Aftershocks"Michael LehmannJack BurdittMarch 19, 2002 (2002-03-19)9.5
55"Cheetos"Michael EnglerTeleplay by: Brad Hall
Story by: Andrew Gottlieb & Brad Hall
March 26, 2002 (2002-03-26)9.7
66"Tango"Michael EnglerAndrew GottliebApril 2, 2002 (2002-04-02)9.6
77"Gift"Kevin Rodney SullivanJoe FureyApril 2, 2002 (2002-04-02)10.4
88"Medicated"Craig ZiskTeleplay by: Joe Furey
Story by: Jeffrey Ross
April 9, 2002 (2002-04-09)7.6
99"Weekend"Howard DeutchAndrew GottliebApril 16, 2002 (2002-04-16)8.0
1010"Zimmerman"Allison Liddi-BrownMike ArmstrongApril 23, 2002 (2002-04-23)6.9

Season 2 (2003)

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateUS viewers
141"Shrink"Robert BerlingerBrad Hall & Andrew GottliebApril 15, 2003 (2003-04-15)9.8
152"TV"Craig ZiskAndrew GottliebApril 22, 2003 (2003-04-22)7.4
163"Date"Craig ZiskBrad Hall & Joe FureyApril 29, 2003 (2003-04-29)8.7
174"Buskers"Kevin Rodney SullivanBrad Hall & Andrew GottliebMay 6, 2003 (2003-05-06)8.3
185"Fruit Shots"Andy AckermanBrad Hall & Andrew GottliebMay 13, 2003 (2003-05-13)7.5
196"Feud"Craig ZiskBrad HallMay 20, 2003 (2003-05-20)8.4


  1. Weinraub, Bernard (January 14, 2002). "You Loved Elaine, Now Meet Ellie; A High-Stakes Gamble Brings Another 'Seinfeld' Star Back to TV". New York Times. Retrieved 17 February 2013.
  2. Rice, Lynette (May 1, 2002). "Testing: One, Two, Three..." Entertainment Weekly.
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