'24' gets more time; 'Mars' solves last case
The bubble burst for a number of shows Tuesday as CBS, Fox and the CW handed out a slew of renewal and cancellation notices.CBS nuked “Jericho,” dismissed “The Class” and closed the book on “Close to Home.” The Eye did hand out some good news, however, picking up “The Amazing Race” for one additional cycle. At the CW, “Veronica Mars” has apparently solved her last case, while over at Fox, Jack Bauer will be back for at least two more very long days on “24.” At the Eye, “Close to Home” had been considered near dead for several months now, with “Class” on the longshot list. There had been speculation, however, that CBS would exercise some patience with “Jericho.” “Jericho” had generated decent buzz for the net and emerged last fall as one of the year’s few frosh with any heat. But ratings never recovered from a protracted winter hiatus, and CBS apparently decided it needs to focus on promoting a slate of risky new shows rather than devote resources to relaunching “Jericho.” End for “Close to Home” comes after two seasons for the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced drama. Cancellation also means that, for the first time in many years, Bruckheimer will be losing two shows from his still-impressive slate of hits (Fox killed “Justice” months ago). It’s also the second consecutive year Bruckheimer has failed to place a new show on the nets’ skeds. End for “The Class” is a heartbreaker for the small audience of the Warner Bros. TV-produced show, which seemed to find its creative voice toward the end of its shortened first season. It also produced stable ratings in the 8:30 p.m. slot, but the show’s lofty auspices and huge preseason hype had CBS execs hoping for more. Still up in the air is final word on the fate of “The New Adventures of Old Christine.” CBS has apparently offered to bring it back for 13 more episodes, most likely at midseason. Eye skeins getting better news this week include “How I Met Your Mother,” which has been picked up for a third season. Net’s most buzzworthy laffer may seem a no-brainer for renewal, but CBS execs make producers sweat it out until the last minute. As previously reported, “The Unit,” “Numbers” and “Ghost Whisperer” will be back next season, as will “NCIS” and all three CSI skeins. Sole CBS frosh drama set to return is “Shark.” Eye is also moving forward with another year of “Rules of Engagement.” Over at the Eye’s cousin net, the CW has officially greenlit three dramas and two unscripted magazine shows as it says goodbye to “Mars.” Nothing’s official, but several people familiar with the situation said “Mars” was, indeed, canceled. Word on the street was that “Mars” creator-exec producer Rob Thomas was offered a showrunner gig on CBS’ “Viva Laughlin” but that scenario is now off the table. Also definitely gone: “All of Us,” the Will Smith-produced laffer that ran for three seasons on UPN and the CW. Returning shows snagging official pickups are laffers “Girlfriends” and “The Game” and dramas “Smallville,” “Supernatural” and “One Tree Hill.” CW picked up “Everybody Hates Chris” for a third season earlier this spring. As expected, execs at the Green net Tuesday called the producers of “Gossip Girl,” “Reaper” and a remake of Blighty family drama “Wild at Heart” (still untitled at the CW) to give them the good news. After some last-minute snags, comedy “Aliens in America” also got the go-ahead Tuesday afternoon. The CW also is moving forward with a pair of magazine-style shows, both of which will likely air Sunday nights in the 7 p.m. timeslot. “Online Nation” is a sort of “America’s Funniest Home Videos” for the YouTube generation, while “CW Now” is the net’s “ET”-style look at pop culture. On the scripted side, greenlight for “Gossip Girl” gives exec producer Josh Schwartz his second series order this season. It’s a quick comeback for Schwartz, whose last hit — Fox’s “The OC” — left the air in February. Meanwhile, in an expected move, Fox has ordered two more seasons of “24,” keeping the Emmy-winning drama on the net through the 2008-09 TV season. Announcement comes on the eve of Fox’s Thursday upfront presentation. Show remains a powerful player for Fox despite ratings dips and critical knocks this season. Exec producers for “24” have already told several publications that they plan to make some changes on the show next season — but the twist will remain the same: Each episode covers one hour of real time as special agent Jack Bauer races against the clock to stop something bad from happening. Twentieth Century Fox TV and Imagine TV are behind “24,” which winds down its sixth season Monday with a two-hour finale. Fox also confirmed Tuesday that it has picked up sketch comedy skein “Mad TV,” a staple of the net’s Saturday latenight sked since 1995. (Michael Schneider in New York contributed to this report.)
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