Inside Move: 2nd-String Woes

'Arliss' has trouble making HBO's team

When HBO cut two episodes of “Arliss” from its sked recently, it appeared the cabler was lowering the boom on the oft on-the-bubble skein.

But the cut was no knock on the show, which stars Robert Wuhl as a schmoozing sports agent, says HBO original programming prexy Chris Albrecht.

The decision, rather, was part of managing an increasingly meaty series sked in the face of labor strikes.

The “Arliss” team has had reason to eye the shot clock anxiously. Unlike other HBO series — such as “The Sopranos,” “Oz” and “Sex and the City” — “Arliss” doesn’t soak up much awards attention. And its auds tend to be smaller, too.

In fact, when the show had been on the air for four years (season six preems next month), Albrecht decided to cancel it.

As he got into a town car one day, he dialed up biz affairs to arrange cancellation.

But upon reaching his destination, his driver handed him his bags — and a plea.

“He said, ‘I can’t believe you’re going to cancel ‘Arliss.’ It’s the best show on TV.’ I took that as a sign,” says Albrecht, who ultimately renewed the series.

The exec is mum on when or whether he’ll be picking up “Arliss” for next year, but he did say, “Lots of people subscribe to HBO because they think ‘Arliss’ is the best show on TV.”

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