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‘Wheel’ comes off as fourth season’s nixed

NUD has trouble securing clearances for next season

“The 5th Wheel” won’t be spinning for a fourth season.

In an unexpected move, NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution has opted against bringing back the dating show next fall.

Skein, which comes from the producers of “Blind Date,” seemed to be doing OK in the ratings, and all indications had been the show would be returning.

But industry insiders said NUD was having trouble securing New York and L.A. clearances for next season. In addition, skein may have fallen victim to financial strains of the NBC-Universal merger. “Wheel” had been a baby of the old Universal regime.

Exec producer David Garfinkle, whose Renegade 83 produces “Wheel,” said he was taken aback by NUD’s decision.

“I was very surprised and disappointed and upset,” he said. “We did think it was going to come back, and I still don’t understand why (it’s not). But it’s the new administration and their decision, so I have to respect that and move forward.”

NUD also produces “Blind Date” with Renegade, and that skein is still the ratings leader in the syndie relationship genre. As disappointing as the “Wheel” deflation is, Garfinkle said he and Renegade partner Jay Renfroe were looking forward to new promotional and production opportunities for “Blind Date” now that the show is part of a big conglom.

Renegade — which just landed an on-air commitment for a legal reality show it’s producing for NBC with the help of David E. Kelley — is also working on several other syndie concepts it hopes to take out later this year.

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