Strange as it may seem, House may not be back next fall, at least not on FOX. Universal Media Studios, who owns the TV series and is part of NBC Universal, has been going back and forth with the FOX network over a possible season eight for quite awhile.
To no surprise, the sticking point is money. House’s ratings have come down and FOX doesn’t want to pay as much for the medical drama. According to sources, Universal Media is looking for the same deal they got at the end of season four. FOX knows full well that the studio’s making a lot of cash from new episodes when they’re added to the syndication package.
FOX’s initial exclusive window to negotiate for House has already expired and Universal Media has added an extension. That’s up this Friday. If FOX and Universal Media can’t come to a new agreement, the bidding could be opened up to other networks. NBC would surely like to be able to move Doctor House and his team to their ratings-challenged Monday night line-up.
For his part, executive producer and showrunner David Shore, who’s still working on season seven, is going under the assumption that House will be back for season eight. He recently told reporters, “FOX wants have to have a season eight, and NBC Universal wants them to have a season eight. I fully expect there to be a season eight, and we’re proceeding on that basis.”
Of course, Shore doesn’t have a contract for next year either. His deal expires with this season as well and will have to be renegotiated. Hugh Laurie and Olivia Wilde are obligated to do another year but Robert Sean Leonard, Omar Epps, Jesse Spencer, and Lisa Edelstein are not. These new deals will have to be worked out and that could go on for weeks.
Leonard has committed to return to Broadway this summer in a revival of Born Yesterday. That’s when production on a new season of House typically begins. Leonard is currently juggling rehearsals in New York with the final episodes of season seven. While Shore hopes to have him back, the actor has said that he’s on the fence. If he does return, Leonard would likely miss several episodes due to his play’s schedule.
UPDATE: Apparently there’s a clause in the current contract that would potentially prevent the studio from shopping the series to NBC or any of the other NBC Universal-owned channels like USA.
What do you think? Will House return to FOX next fall? Would you care if it was on another network? Would you miss Wilson (Leonard) if he wasn’t part of the series anymore?
Image courtesy FOX.