Cable spokesman sez show has run its course

Lifetime will not renew basic cable’s longest-running original drama, “Strong Medicine.”

Sony TV Pictures-produced skein, currently in the middle of its sixth season, is averaging a solid 2.5 million viewers per episode — up 10% in overall viewers from season five.

But a spokesman for the women’s cable network said execs felt that after 132 episodes, the show had run its course.

“Strong Medicine” is one of the “truly remarkable success stories in cable TV history. We’re grateful for all the contributions of exec producers Tammy Ader and Whoopi Goldberg and the cast,” he said. But it’s time “to offer our viewers another option.”

“Medicine” won’t necessarily be leaving the air anytime soon: Lifetime has exclusive rerun rights to the medical drama through 2010.

Decision leaves Lifetime with just one original drama, “Missing.” Lions Gate TV-produced hour is in its third cycle and stars Vivica A. Fox as an FBI agent whose partner has psychic abilities. Cabler has not yet announced a greenlight for additional seasons.

Just a year ago, Lifetime was commissioning more original dramas than any other basic cabler. But with a vacant programming prexy post and the recent regime change, that number has fallen to one. New entertainment topper Susanne Daniels is expected to beef up development shortly and already has at least two pilots in contention, “The Hunters” and “Scarlett.”

“Strong Medicine” anchored Lifetime’s Sunday night drama block for the past six years. In September 2004, cabler considered spinning off a second series, “Strong Medicine: First Response” but opted not to pursue the project.

“Strong Medicine” stars Rick Schroder and Rosa Blasi.

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