TV series with uncertain futures -- Jason Katims describes what it's like to have his critically acclaimed shows face possible cancellation
FNL exec producer Jason Katims’ fingers are getting tired from all that crossing: His critically beloved, low-rated NBC drama is in renewal limbo (”on the bubble,” in industry parlance). We asked Katims — who faced similar scenarios on My So-Called Life, Relativity, and Roswell — to describe that not-so-safe feeling. — Dan Snierson
The whole thing is kind of like having a sick relative: People are very hesitant to tell you bad news. You make phone calls, and if a network or studio executive calls you back, that’s a positive sign. There’s a lot to read between the lines…. There are funny things where you don’t know what’s happening with your show and suddenly you see a line producer from another production taking a tour of your office and you ask, ”What are you shooting?” That means somebody has a very good feeling that you’re not going to be around much longer…. At a certain point it becomes sort of a Zen thing where you just have to accept that that’s the way it is. But when you do get the pickup, it’s that much more exciting. Among the cast and crew, youfeel the sense of wanting to band together to support the little engine that could.
We heard from one of our network supporters that our show was not only very close to not coming back for the rest of the second season but not coming back at all. Within a 24-hour period, we went from that to [NBC Entertainment co-chairman] Ben Silverman calling [FNL exec producer] Pete Berg and being very positive about the future. Things can turn around so quickly and intensely.
The other day I woke up in the middle of the night and suddenly had all these ideas for the opening of the third season. I think that’s a positive sign because that means that in my heart I believe it’s going to happen: We’ll do more episodes.