Skein's full-season pickup axed

“The Handler” appears to be history.

After giving the Joe Pantoliano skein a full-season 22-episode pickup, CBS has reversed course and trimmed the skein’s production order to just 15 segs. It’s unclear exactly when production on the Viacom Prods.-produced skein will shut down.

Eye hasn’t officially canceled “The Handler,” and the show is still on the net’s Friday sked. It seems unlikely “Handler” will make it on during the February sweeps, though no decisions have been announced.

No word yet on a permanent replacement, but there’s already strong buzz surrounding Universal’s new legal drama “Century City,” making the skein an eventual contender for the 10 p.m. slot.

“Handler” started off strong last fall, but slowly began to fade in the ratings, particularly after NBC shifted the veteran John Wells drama “Third Watch” to the hour.

Pantoliano won an Emmy last September for his work on HBO’s “The Sopranos.”

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