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NBC’s ‘God’ is dead

Controversial toon fails to attract audience

Put a (pitch) fork in it: “God” is dead.

Late Wednesday NBC pulled the plug on “God, the Devil and Bob,” the controversial animated comedy a number of Peacock affils have been refusing to air. Skein has been under fire from extreme right-wing religious orgs, including the Rev. Donald Wildmon’s American Family Association.

By Tuesday’s final broadcast, 22 stations had joined the anti-“God” bandwagon, preempting the show in roughly 5% of the country. That’s more than the number of stations that refused to clear “NYPD Blue” in its first season.

What’s more, advertisers also seemed to be running away from the Carsey-Werner produced “God.” Tuesday’s broadcast featured an unusually large number of promos for NBC programs, indicating the Peacock was having problems selling ad inventory on the show.

Handicapped by the preemptions — and the daunting task of facing TV’s ruling god of the moment, Regis Philbin — “God” averaged a weak 4.4 Nielsen rating/7 share in three 8:30 p.m. Tuesday broadcasts. Despite generally upbeat notices from critics, this week’s seg averaged a 4.2/6, apparently NBC’s lowest rating ever in the slot with regular programming.

Including a special Thursday preview, NBC aired 4 episodes of “God”; it’s unlikely the remaining 9 segs of an original 13-seg order will air anytime soon. For now, Peacock plans to fill the 8:30 p.m. slot with repeats of “Just Shoot Me” and “Frasier.”

Carsey-Werner toppers Marcy Carsey and Tom Werner issued a statement praising exec producer Matthew Carlson and the rest of the “God” squad.

“(They) created a wonderfully entertaining project that we were all proud of,” Carsey and Werner said. “The affiliate drop-out was unfortunate because it didn’t allow the audience to decide for themselves.”

An NBC spokeswoman said the net was “very proud of the work that Carsey-Warner did on this show and disappointed that it wasn’t able to garner a larger audience.”

Affil backlash against “God” began with Salt Lake City NBC affil KSL, which claimed the show “was not very funny.” (Daily Variety, March 3.) In some cases, NBC was able to clear the show on rival stations.

“God” starred James Garner as the voice of the Almighty, Broadway vet Alan Cummings as Lucifer and French Stewart as lovable loser Bob. Carlson and Harvey Myman served as exec producers.

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