It looks like the axe has fallen for the Paul Haggis/Bobby Moresco drama The Black Donnellys. But does it have to be replaced by a reality show?
The Black Donnellys follows the story of four young Donnelly brothers — a clan of Catholic Irish-American siblings who are involved in organized crime in New York’s infamous Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood. The story is told by unreliable narrator and Donnelly childhood friend named Joey “Ice Cream” while being incarcerated. The series stars Jonathan Tucker, Thomas Guiry, Olivia Wilde, Billy Lush, Michael Stahl-David, Kirk Acevedo and Keith Nobbs.
The series debuted on NBC on February 26, 2007 and took the place of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip on Monday nights. The series’ initial half hour did well (10 million) but viewership fell off significantly in the second half hour (6 million). The series’ initial hour ranked #50 for the week. The subsequent episodes lost viewers and attracted as few as 5.5 million.
While many hoped that a Donnelly dismissal would mean the return of Studio 60, NBC has other plans. The Real Wedding Crashers will debut at 10pm on Monday nights beginning April 23rd, just in time for May sweeps. It seemed like the Crashers reality show would air on Sunday nights but, NBC execs like the series enough to give it the benefit of a post-Heroes debut.
Unless NBC pulls the series even earlier, only eight episodes of Donnellys will have aired on network TV. The series’ third episode, entitled “God is a Comedian Playing to an Audience Afraid to Laugh,” was considered too violent for network TV and was released as an NBC.com exclusive.
The network has ordered 13 episodes and its unknown at this point what will become of the remaining four segments. They may air over the summer or could be released as online exclusives.
UPDATE: NBC has now pulled Donnellys’ last scheduled episode due to low ratings. The unaired episodes will be made available on NBC.com, presumably on a weekly basis.