Little about the CW’s Sunday night arrangement with Media Rights Capital (MRC) has been typical. That trend has continued right to the very end as the CW is booting In Harm’s Way, Valentine, and Easy Money right off their schedule. And, in a strange twist, CBS’ cancelled Jericho is returning to primetime.
For those who haven’t watched the MRC shows (and few people have), here’s a brief description: In Harm’s Way is a reality show that spotlights people who have particularly dangerous occupations. It’s hosted by former Navy officer Hunter Ellis.
Valentine follows a group of Greek gods who try to help modern-day mortals find true love. It stars Christine Lakin, Autumn Reeser, Robert Baker, Kristoffer Polaha, Greg Ellis, Jaime Murray, and Patrick Fabian.
Easy Money, the best reviewed of the three, tells the tale of a family of loan sharks. That one features the talents of Laurie Metcalf, Jeff Hephner, Jay R. Ferguson, Joe Peracchio, Katie Lowes, Nick Searcy, Kimberly Estrada, Marsha Thomason, Ravi Patel, Chris Browning, Jesus Mayorga, Gary Farmer, and Judge Reinhold.
Last May, it was announced that MRC was going to rent CW’s three hours of Sunday night airtime to run their own programming. Rather than pick up established programming (Moonlight was briefly considered), MRC chose to fill the timeslots with three original shows, In Harm’s Way, Valentine, and Easy Money. The CW has historically had difficulty attracting viewers to its Sunday night schedule so few had faith that MRC would have better luck with three shows that had less promotion and exposure.
As expected, all three shows debuted on October 5th to dismal ratings. As bad as they were, the numbers got worse as the weeks progressed. By mid-October, MRC had shut down production on Valentime and Easy Money for a “planned hiatus.” A few weeks later, we learned that both shows had been cancelled and that the cast and crew would not be returning to their jobs. No mention was made of In Harm’s Way. It’s assumed that the reality show was either on a different production schedule or had perhaps already wrapped on its initial episode order.
MRC was reportedly still obligated to fill the three hour timeslot for the rest of the season. The company was reportedly readying other shows for early 2009 debuts. It was suspected that In Harm’s Way, Valentine, and Easy Money would continue to air at least until the new year. That’s no longer the case.
It’s been reported that MRC has been having financial and leadership issues and its rumored that the company has fallen behind in its payments to the CW. Coupled with the night’s poor ratings, the CW network has taken back the Sunday night timeslots.
The CW’s COO, John D. Maatta, told affiliates in a letter that, “The MRC shows are simply not working. To that end, we have made a business and programming decision to protect our network and your local interests on Sunday for the remainder of the season.”
Maatta says that the MRC block will air this Sunday but that CW programming will take over after that. For the immediate future, CBS’ cancelled drama Jericho will air at 7pm. (Strangely enough, CBS took down their still-active Jericho forums just yesterday. Were they concerned that another revival campaign might be started?) As-yet-unannounced movies will be shown from 8pm to 10pm.
Understandably, the CW exec didn’t mention the fate of any unaired episodes of In Harm’s Way, Valentine, and Easy Money or, of the MRC programming that would take their place. MRC may try to find another outlet for the shows, release them on DVD, sell them to TV stations overseas, or just let them collect dust on the shelf. Stay tuned!
UPDATE: The LA Times reports that an MRC spokeswoman says “The CW and MRC are continuing to negotiate the Sunday night deal. And all parts of the deal — programming, timing, everything.” She also disputed that MRC had not made timely payments to the network. A CW spokesman declined to comment on MRC’s contentions.
Image courtesy MRC.