Jay Mohr's dead character was supposed to come back to life, but then the show was canceled

By Josh Wolk
December 06, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST
Michael Lavine/Fox

”Action”’s cancellation was announced last Thursday, and it was made official that night when the main character — Jay Mohr’s scruples-free movie producer, Peter Dragon — dropped dead of a heart attack in the last episode to air. It was an appropriately dark finale for this unconventional comedy, but an entirely coincidental one. This was the 9th of 13 already taped episodes, and in the 10th show (which you won’t see on Fox), Dragon comes back to life — after meeting the ultimate studio chief: God.

Creator Chris Thompson came up with the heavenly story line when Fox — convinced that the show’s weak ratings might improve if Dragon had even a hint of a conscience — asked him to make his lead character a little more sympathetic. ”We were going to kill him, then have him talk to God and try to be better, but he wasn’t going to be,” says Thompson. ”I had no intention of making him more likable, but it fooled Fox and let me go on. Sometimes you just say you did something, and the networks believe you did it. I certainly wasn’t going to have him open up a puppy farm.”

Thompson stresses that he feels no enmity toward Fox, which did all it could to promote the show. Plus, there’s still the hope that Dragon’s resurrection might be seen some day: The unaired episodes of Al Franken’s ”Lateline” were bought by Showtime after NBC canceled it, and ”Action” should be even more attractive to a cable network, since it already comes complete with profanity. ”I’m sure it will happen,” Thompson says. ”But we’re still mourning right now, before we start trying to pry out the gold teeth.”