After 14 years on the air, FOX is pulling the plug on its late-night Saturday TV show, MADtv. Though the sketch series has had a very respectable run on the network, producers aren’t ready to give up on the show just yet.
FOX’s answer to NBC’s Saturday Night Live (SNL), MADtv began airing on October 14, 1995. The show features topical sketch comedy as well as popular musical performances. Taking its initial inspiration from the long-running MAD magazine, the series’ material includes movie and TV show parodies, music video spoofs and, early on, animated Spy vs Spy segments.
MADtv’s ensemble of comedy players has included performers like Michael McDonald, Debra Wilson, Aries Spears, Mo Collins, Bobby Lee, Nicole Sullivan, Alex Borstein, Will Sasso, Stephnie Weir, Frank Caliendo, Phil LaMarr, Ike Barinholtz, Nicole Parker, Keegan Michael Key, and Jordan Peele.
The series is currently a production of QDE, a joint venture of David Salzman and music legend Quincy Jones
While SNL has been heavily promoted by NBC, MADtv has enjoyed very little promotion by its network. The series has always run in the 11pm Staurday night timeslot but many FOX viewers are unaware the show is still on the air or that it has ever existed at all.
MADtv received only a reduced episode order this season and the cast and crew are set to film the last one in December. The network wanted to give producers advance notice of the cancellation so that they could make plans to end the show in a big way.
Ultimately it’s fate became a question of dollars and cents. Executive producer and co-creator Salzman says, “They said it was too expensive for a daypart where dollars have been shrinking. Their thought was, the show is what the show is, and that essence needs to be maintained — but it’s hard to produce as big and ambitious a show as ours for less money than they’re paying now.” MADtv has averaged 2.6 million viewers so far this season, a modest drop of 6% from the previous cycle.
Salzman believes that the show can continue and maintains that the show is the biggest success in FOX’s 20+ year history. He says that the show’s budget could be trimmed to make it affordable to a cable channel.
“There’s a long list of parties that have called us, including a few very recently, and we’re going to start conversations with them very shortly,” he told the Hollywood Reporter. “I think we can change it without it really being noticeable. We’ve learned over the years how to do things on an efficient basis.”
The timing of the cancellation is actually fortuitous since Comedy Central’s deal to air repeats is expiring in a couple months. QDE can offer outlets the vast library of reruns, new episodes, or a combination of the two.
One way or the other Salzman isn’t ready to throw in the towel. He said, “We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished, we’re appreciative of what FOX has done and we don’t think it should be over yet.
Image courtesy FOX.