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Inside move: ABC terminates Bond

Viewers rebuff 007 with low ratings

Secret agent James Bond has finally encountered one predicament even he can’t escape: Cancellation.

After weeks of progressively lower ratings, ABC has lived and let its Saturday night “Bond Picture Show” franchise die.

ABC had been airing the Bond movies in chronological order (except for the George Lazenby starrer “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”) starting with “Dr. No” Jan. 26. But viewers were neither shaken nor stirred by the Alphabet’s programming strategy: In eight airings, the “Bond Picture Show” averaged only 6 million viewers and a 2.1 rating/6 share among adults 18-49.

The second Bond flick, “From Russia With Love,” pulled the most viewers (7.1 million). There were four pics– “The Spy Who Loved Me,” “Moonraker,” “For Your Eyes Only” and “Octopussy” — yet to air.

ABC originally purchased the Bond movies as fall 2001 contingency programming in the event of a writers or actors strike. With no strike, coupled with the events of Sept. 11, the Alphabet web pushed 007 to midseason.

The net will revert to more recent repeat theatricals on Saturday nights. The leftover Bonds may show up sometime on ABC this summer; after that, Viacom nets TNN, CBS and UPN paid $30 million to take over broadcast rights of the classic features starting this fall.

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