FOX was hoping for the next big reality show hit to take over for its wildly-popular American Idol. They put a lot of faith promotion time into the Mark Burnett/Steven Spielberg series On the Lot. Unfortunately, it looks like the series has emerged as the TV equivalent of a movie bomb.
On the Lot was conceived as a filmmaking contest in which young directors would compete for a million dollar development deal with film studio DreamWorks. Over 12,000 submissions were reportedly received and from that, 50 semi-finalists were chosen. Like Idol, the competition series was planned to air twice a week.
The premiere on May 22nd followed Idol but failed to hold onto much its huge audience. Idol attracted 24.5 million and less than 9 million stuck around for On the Lot. The second episode on May 24th dropped to 5.2 million and the third sank to 2.86 million on May 28th. With a lead-in from House, the ratings rose a bit to 4 million on May 29th but FOX had seen the writing on the wall.
Beginning with the June 5th episode, the competition and results shows were condensed into single one-hour weekly episodes. In place of the Monday episodes, FOX replaced On the Lot with reruns of House, Hell’s Kitchen, and various sitcoms.
Backstage, the series has gone through some changes as well. Original host Chelsea Handler left the show to host her own E! comedy show Chelsea Lately. Handler was replaced by Adrianna Costa who hasn’t gathered much praise for her efforts. On top of that, six contestants were dropped off-screen after the May 28th episode. The network called it simply a “creative decision.”
Unfortunately, the schedule and backstage changes haven’t helped the ratings. In fact, they’ve only gotten worse. The seventh episode attracted only 2.4 million.
The finale is scheduled to air on Tuesday, August 14th. If the ratings keep falling, will the series be allowed to finish its run? Would many notice if it didn’t? One thing’s for sure, I wouldn’t expect On the Lot to return for a second year. Stay tuned!