Programming

Moving On After 'Men of a Certain Age'

Despite cancellation, TNT remains committed to genre shows 8/01/2011 12:01:00 AM Eastern

When TNT canceled Men of a Certain
Age
on July 15 because of low
ratings, it set off an uproar among the
series’ small but passionate fan base. And those at
the network were just as sad to see it go.

“It was a beautiful television program,” says
Michael Wright, executive VP and head of programming
for TBS, TNT and Turner Classic Movies.
“What Ray Romano and Mike Royce and that
cast and crew created was really special and it’s
painful, and I’m not saying this in a cavalier way;
it hurt, we did not want to cancel that show.”


Men of a Certain Age
’s cancellation was also
disappointing because the series represented a
departure from TNT’s classic franchise drama
programming, embodied by shows like The
Closer
and Rizzoli & Isles. But while Men earned a
second season to try to improve its Nielsen numbers,
it ultimately couldn’t break through with a
large enough portion of TNT’s viewership.

“It was a show that rewarded you for sticking with it, but it did not necessarily
provide easy access,” Wright says. “On a network like ours, that’s a
tough hill to climb. That is not a knock on their show; it just wasn’t as accessible
to an audience that expects a certain other kind of programming.”

Men aside, Wright adds that he remains committed to his strategy of
giving the TNT audience series that they don’t know they want, in addition
to what those at the network call “popcorn” procedurals like this
summer’s Franklin & Bash.

And that balance is encouraged partly by the breakout success of TNT’s
latest genre show, Falling Skies. The sci-fi drama drew 5.9 million total
viewers to its June premiere, making it cable’s top new series launch of the
year. TNT has already renewed the series for a second season.

Falling Skies is a wonderful affirmation of that, and it shows the flexibility
of the TNT drama brand,” Wright says. “We had hopes for it, that it
would do well, but it performed beyond our expectations.”

As such, Wright says he’ll continue to pilot both franchise procedurals
and genre shows each development season. TNT has already ordered its
next genre show to series, a remake of the iconic hit Dallas, which will
premiere on the network in summer 2012.

And just because Men of a Certain Age didn’t work on the network,
Wright says he would still try a similar show on TNT in the future.

“I would love to see us figure out how to do a family drama. The challenge
is how to do it in a way that pops in a cluttered TV universe,” he
says. “Softer, quieter drama is a difficult thing to get people to schedule, as
you saw with Men of a Certain Age.”

E-mail comments to amorabito@nbmedia.com and follow
her on Twitter: @andreamorabito

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