Sources tell EW that the network, which saved ABC’s Nashville last year, is in very early talks to revive the Tim Allen series, which ABC canceled in May after six seasons. At this time, this is far from a done deal, but if the show does return, it could be for a shortened order as opposed to a full season.
Insiders close to the negotiations emphasize that this is a “long-shot” and that these preliminary talks are mainly concerned with “kicking the tires” to see if it could make sense financially and creatively. “It’ll either come together quickly or die on the vine,” they said.
The show’s cancellation inspired a fair bit of backlash, including a petition calling for an ABC boycott because some conservative viewers believed the perennially on-the-bubble series was axed because of its Republican star. Despite the criticism, ABC defended its decision, pointing out that it also dropped some liberal-leaning series as well.
“A large part of these jobs are managing failure and we’ve made the tough calls and canceled shows that we’d otherwise love to stay on the air,” said ABC entertainment president Channing Dungey on a conference call with reporters in May. “That’s the job. I canceled Last Man Standing for the same business and scheduling reasons that I canceled Dr. Ken, The Real O’Neals, The Catch, and American Crime. And Last Man Standing was a challenging one for me because it was a steady performer in the ratings, but once we made the decision not to continue with comedies on Fridays, that was where we landed.”
Allen was surprised. “Stunned and blindsided by the network I called home for the last six years,” he tweeted after the cancellation news broke.
In its sixth and final season, which aired on Fridays, Last Man Standing averaged a 8.1 million viewers and a 1.6 rating among adults 18-49.
The Hollywood Reporter was the first to report the news.
—Additional reporting by Dan Snierson