"Friday Night Lights" To Be Canceled?
This week's episode of NBC's critically-acclaimed drama "Friday Night Lights" may be its swan song.
When asked about the fate of FNL at last week's "Lipstick Jungle" launch party, NBC's Programming Chief Ben Silverman ignored the question and instead touted the network's Thursday night comedy "30 Rock" as "the best show on TV."
When repeatedly pressed to address the future of the Texas-based drama, Silverman said: "I like it. You like it. But no one watches it. We'll see what we can do. Watch '30 Rock!"
Last spring, "Friday Night Lights" had been renewed for a second season by Silverman's predecessor Kevin Reilly, before he was let go. Reilly, a fan of the show, was responsible for its original development.
Following Reilly's departure, NBC had the producers make several creative choices (including the much-criticized Tyra-Landry murder storyline) in an attempt to improve the show's modest ratings.
The show has averaged 6.16 million viewers this season, almost on a par with last year's average of 6.20 million.
This year, however, the show airs on lower-rated Friday nights (last year it aired on Tuesdays and Wednesdays), so maintaining season 1 ratings on a night when fewer people watch TV is a modest accomplishment.
Also, on several occasions this year FNL tied for the first place in the timeslot among adults 18-49.
Ironically "30 Rock," the show that - unlike FNL - appears to have Silverman's support, has averaged a very similar 6.61 million viewers this season. The comedy however airs on much more competitive, and therefore more significant, Thursday nights.
Ben Silverman, 37, has caused quite a bit of controversy over the past 6 months, including personal attacks on ABC Prexy Stephen McPherson.
Silverman's programming strategy relies heavily on reality shows and acquisition of foreign formats. The exec who originally developed "Ugly Betty" for ABC, is now planning the US version of Aussie comedy "Kath & Kim," and a soap opera titled "Without Breasts There Is No Paradise."
Although NBC has yet to make a final decision on the future of "Friday Night Lights," there will be no additional episodes this season.
All 15 episodes of season 2 will be released on DVD in April.
Could fan support similar to last year's "Jericho" nut campaign save the endangered series from cancellation?