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Lone Star: Cancellation Talk from “The Masked Scheduler”

Lone StarThese days, it’s pretty rare to read any straight talk from the execs working at the studios or networks. Understandably, most are worried about burning bridges. After all, the person whose show is cancelled one week, could develop the next big hit in the future.

“The Masked Scheduler” is a TV veteran who worked for NBC in the 1980s and currently works for FOX. He keeps his true identity a secret from his readers and freely shares his experiences and straightforward opinions. He recently blogged about the cancellation of Lone Star and it makes for some very entertaining reading. Here’s an excerpt but you can read the whole post here.

When I started out at NBC scheduling in Burbank, my boss Warren Littlefield gave me the best advise about scheduling ever. Warren said: “You have the ultimate second guess job”. I live by that wisdom. So rather than get all worked up about this stuff, I just chuckle.

Gang, this show was REJECTED. Deal with it…..we have. Rather than pointing fingers or belittling the audience we accept that this show just did not resonate with the viewers but hey we took the shot. We were wrong. Let me let you in on a little secret…..it’s just television…..**** happens. You go online Tuesday after we cancelled LONE STAR and it felt like a ******* wake….gimme a break.

When a show premieres with ratings like this and then drops to a 1.0 in 18-49’s in week two…..it’s not about whether we should have saved the show for later in the season (we actually had that debate in May) or whether there was a better slot for it on the schedule (other shows premiered in tough time periods to better ratings) and I don’t think that there was a marketing campaign that would have significantly pumped up the ratings. I think that we were always between a rock and a hard place with this show.

I don’t read all the analyses of why this show didn’t work (remember I have a second guess job) but here was my fear from the beginning:

We have just suffered through an horrific economic crisis brought on by excess and illusions, we saw the devastating environmental impact of an oil spill and the resulting lack of response and indifference on the part of a large corporation as well as the government. The last thing that every day Americans want to see right now is a good looking con man who is fucking over two innocent young women who have done nothing wrong other than to love him. A con man who eventually will leave these two women and their families in ruins. This is where it has to go….anything else is bullshit and, had we kept it on, would have lead to some major eye rolling by the very people bemoaning its demise. You can’t redeem this guy and everyone around him has to suffer….just ask Rita, Carmela or Betty. Dexter, Don and Tony were family men and that informed their actions…but they never looked for redemption.

If we want to do a cable show then do a ******* cable show but anticipate cable ratings. Sorry critics, LONE STAR was never going to be a “hit”. We took the gamble and we moved on. So it goes. There’s a big country between the coasts. There was no way that enough viewers were going to condone bigamy even if the lead is the offspring of what would happen if George Clooney married George Clooney and they had a kid. The audience was not conned.

We had some big hurdles to overcome and we stumbled right out of the gate.

 

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike W October 19, 2010 at 8:45 am

Dave,
Do yourself a favor in regards to Life on Mars, watch the British version (which is incredible), and forget they ever attempted a US version. The end of the Brit version cemented how great the show truly was; while the ending of the US version tore down anything you might have remembered as even slightly good about the series, even making you wish the name was different so it wouldn’t be related to, and thereby taint the memory of, the Brit version.

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Dave October 15, 2010 at 5:00 am

I wasn’t thrilled about Lonestar when I saw the advertising as it didn’t seem to give me a feeling for the show, but since it was filmed here in Dallas and I like to give new shows a chance (if there is room on my DVR) I did, and I LIKED it. I thought it had room to grow, and although it would never be a big hit, it was good TV and worth watching. (I find RUBICON very slow and boring and yet I still enjoy it). I think this show would be better suited for AMC. I’m not really against them canceling it, the main thing I hate is pulling it after 2 episodes. By the time the first one aired, I’m guessing 8 had been shot and 13 ordered? I don’t blame the network for halting production, but at least air the rest of the episodes that are shot SOMEWHERE. It didn’t get far enough for a season one DVD (I just checked iTunes, but no luck, only 2 episodes). Hopefully someone else will pick it up and run at least what’s shot. It’s nice that networks do that nowdays.

I liked Happy Town a lot. Never saw Life on Mars, but PBS is running the original BBC version and I’m liking it. I need to watch the American on to see how close and good it is.

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