[07/31/03 - 12:00 AM]
FX Folds 'Lucky,' Adds 'Bernie Mac' for 2008
By Brian Ford Sullivan (TFC)

CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- Despite earning basic cable's first ever nomination for comedy writing, FX has decided not to renew its freshman series "Lucky" for a second season.

The news doesn't come as much of a surprise however. The John Corbett-led dark comedy opened to a modest 2.5 million viewers back in April only to see its audience drop in half by its fourth episode. Even worse the series averaged a 0.77 rating in adults 18-49 for its entire 13 week run, with an almost invisible 0.55 average rating for its final month on the air.

That's a stark contrast from "The Shield," which averaged over 3 million viewers in its second season not to mention a 1.9 rating in adults 18-49 for its finale. FX executives nevertheless remain proud of the series. "I just think it's the most competitive time in the history of TV. Sometimes shows don't find audiences," FX topper Peter Liguori told Daily Variety. "Ultimately, we're in the business of delivering eyeballs and creating a profile. We're all proud of the show, but it never found the audience it deserved."

He added, "At the end of the day, we're really proud of it," Liguori said. "We thought maybe we'd use the resources we have and give something else a try." So far Liguori has been right: the first two weeks of newcomer "Nip/Tuck" have topped every episode of "Lucky" to date.

Meanwhile, the cable network has added to its off-network stable, picking up the exclusive cable rights to "The Bernie Mac Show." The four-year license term, set to begin in fall 2008, came at a relatively modest $235,000 per episode fee.

FX will follow "Mac's" three-year exclusive run on local stations beginning in fall 2005. Despite being two years away, distributor 20th Century Fox Television has already cleared the show in 75% of the country. In addition, 20th will also hold back 90 seconds of ad time from the series' FX run. That space could net the company an additional $200,000 per episode in the long run.

On FX, "Mac" will join a few familiar faces from its FOX run as "Malcolm in the Middle" (fall 2007, $600,000 per episode), "That '70s Show" (fall 2005, $490,000 per episode) and "King of the Hill" (fall 2004, $400,000 per episode) as well as "Dharma & Greg" (fall 2005, $400,000 per episode) will join the channel in the coming years. All five are relative bargains when compared to the network's current entries "The Practice" ($675,000 per episode), "Ally McBeal" ($745,000 per episode) and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" ($650,000 per episode) which, aside from "Buffy," have been massive disappointments for the network.

20th's pact with FX includes a drop in "Mac's" license fee should FOX broadcasting cancel the show before it reaches its fourth season. FX is also required to extend its exclusive deal six months for every year FOX renews "Mac" beyond the 2004-05 season, with a cap set at seven seasons.

  [july 2003]  


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