Audience rating dipped for eighth pic

The eighth “Jesse Stone” movie, “Benefit of the Doubt,” will be the last produced for CBS, its producer confirmed.

The most recent telecast of the Tom Selleck vehicle based on the popular Robert B. Parker novels aired on May 20 and attracted nearly 13 million viewers — a hit by that standard. The audience, however, skewed very old, with only a 1.2 rating in the key sales demographic of adults 18-49. The rating among adults 50 and older was nearly 10 times that high.

Michael Brandman, who produces the movies with Selleck and has taken over writing the books since Parker’s death in 2010, said CBS had notified them they wouldn’t be ordering any more movies about the small-town sheriff, and that it was unclear whether the property might have a future elsewhere.

Given the overall audience, Brandman said, speaking for himself and Selleck, “Both of us are surprised CBS was so wedded to those (younger) demographics. … It’s really hard for us to grasp.”

Network sources say the decision was actually more complex than that, including CBS’ success with series creating less opportunity for movies and specials, other than a handful of award shows. The network has also almost entirely gotten out of the longform business. Last year, the Eye parted with the “Hallmark Hall of Fame,” concluding a 16-year affiliation. Those movies subsequently moved to ABC.

Selleck currently stars in the CBS series “Blue Bloods,” which like “Jesse Stone” has a big audience overall but an older profile. He also enjoyed considerable success earlier in TV movies for TNT, many of them Westerns.

According to Brandman, news of the end for the Jesse Stone movies at CBS was posted on Parker’s Facebook page, prompting a number of his fans to complain to the network.

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