Producers turn to Sony, TV critics for support

Exec producers Linda Bloodworth and Harry Thomason are not ready to give up on their show “12 Miles of Bad Road.”

Now that HBO has kicked “12 Miles” to the curb, the couple is also looking to the nation’s TV critics for support. Bloodworth and Thomason sent copies of all six episodes to newspapers around the country — including Variety.

The goal: “We are hoping that some critical reassurance might prompt (HBO) to reconsider their decision,” the duo said in a letter to critics, “or at least help us move the show to a more receptive environment.”

Bloodworth said they are also in talks with Sony Pictures Television to take over domestic and international distribution of the Lily Tomlin starrer (Sony, however, said no deal is in the works).

HBO originally ordered 10 episodes of “12 Miles,” which has been in development for four years at the channel. Six segs were produced of the dark hourlong comedy — at a cost of $25 million, according to Bloodworth and Thomason — before the writers strike put things at a screeching halt.

Rather than jumpstart the ignition when the strike ended, however, HBO decided to drop “12 Miles” from its roster completely.

Bloodworth and Thomason went back to the editing room at the advice of the channel and cut the hourlong skein, which stars Tomlin as a Dallas-based real estate agent, into half-hour segs. Still no dice. HBO insiders said they ultimately felt the show’s creative vision wasn’t right for the channel.

“This comes as a shock,” Bloodworth and Thomason said.

Pay cabler allowed the producers to shop the show elsewhere, but there have been no takers so far. Most recently, Lifetime kicked the “12 Miles” tires but eventually passed.

Bloodworth said she believed that’s because the show isn’t cheap — it cost $3.6 million per episode, a figure that’s crushing for most basic cable nets. Also, “12 Miles” was written with an edgier HBO sensibility and may not work as well elsewhere.

“It’s not going to be easy,” Bloodworth said. “Even with Sony involved, it’s so tremendously expensive. We designed it for HBO. There are few places in which it will work.”

Nonetheless, Bloodworth and Thomason said they still haven’t shopped the show to several potential homes, such as FX, AMC and Starz. (Another potential home, Showtime, has been nixed by HBO.)

In their letter, Bloodworth and Thomason contended that HBO got cold feet because of the show’s setting — the channel has never run a show based in the South or Texas, they contend — and also pointed at the net’s new post-Chris Albrecht exec structure.

“We feel the current regime has been and remains uncomfortable with this new, inherited terrain,” the duo wrote, referencing, but not specifically naming, HBO co-prexy Richard Plepler and West Coast topper Michael Lombardo.

HBO’s decision to cut “12 Miles” coincided with Carolyn Strauss’ exit from the entertainment prexy gig into another, not-yet-confirmed role.

Of course, it’s not a given that TV critics will go the distance on “12 Miles.” But Bloodworth and Thomason said they “feel that ’12 Miles’ stands amongst the best things we have ever done.”

“I’d prefer for the critics to speak up for us,” Bloodworth said. “We’re going to do our best to get it on somewhere.”

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