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“Girlfriends”: Mara Brock Akil takes the high road

Marabrockakil_2Mara Brock Akil is a class act.

The creator/exec producer of Girlfriends proved that on Thursday in statement aimed at quelling the bitter response from fans of her long-running UPN-cum-CW sitcom “Girlfriends” to the news that this past Monday’s back-to-back segs of the show would mark its swan-song after eight seasons. No proper series finale, just over and out.

CW explained in a statement earlier this week asserting that the decision was partly a response to the upheaval caused by the writers strike and partly an economic decision. Online petitions are circulating, vitriol in the blog-o-sphere is rising, but instead of exploiting the fans’ ire for her own aggrandizement, Akil is accentuating the positive.

The uproar over the show’s abrupt ending has forced CW and “Girlfriends” studio CBS Paramount Network TV to shake loose a little coin for a retrospective clip show later this season, as Variety’s Michael Schneider reports. It’s the least they can do for a show that has been a workhorse for two networks since the start of this decade.

“Although it’s always difficult to say goodbye, I choose to focus my energy on the history that ‘Girlfriends’ has made, the human stories that we told, the beautifully complex images that we projected and the blessings 172 episodes bestowed on us, both personally and professionally,” Akil said in a statement issued Thursday by CBS Par.

“I am immensely thankful to the amazingly talented cast, writers, directors, staff and crew for their endless dedication and hard work for eight seasons, to the network that always wanted us and the studio that always supported us, but mostly to the audience, especially African-American women, who took the time to tune into us every Monday night at nine to have a dialogue with us and who have been our partner in this journey.  I am currently in talks with the studio and network on putting together a retrospective show Girlfriends which will honor and celebrate this landmark series, so please stay tuned.”

The fact that Akil, who also creator and exec producer of CW’s “The Game,” would take the high road in this situation comes as no surprise to those who know her. From her earliest days as an assistant on Fox’s “The Sinbad Show” and her staff stints in the 1990s on WB’s “The Jamie Foxx Show” and UPN’s “Moesha,” Akil impressed all who knew her as a talented, whip-smart writer and natural-born showrunner who was destined to go far in this biz. Kinda like the characters (in varying degrees) on “Girlfriends,” come to think of it.

(Pictured from left: “Girlfriends” stars Tracee Ellis Ross, guest star Erykah Badu, Persia White and Golden Brooks)

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