While ABC has pulled Welcome to The Neighborhood off the schedule as a six-episode reality series, it could end up resurfacing in another form, such as a one-off special.
After benching the show following criticism of the selection process for the winners of a new home, the network will explore ways to repackage the project.
“The people in the show were transformed by the process,” said a source familiar with the project. “They may have gone into it with pre-conceived notions, but they were definitely transformed by the end of the series. That’s why it won’t air in its current form, because a better way needs to be found to convey that full arc.”
The summer series was to have debuted Sunday, July 10, at 9 (the Desperate Housewives slot), leading into re-runs of Housewives at 10. Now, Housewives will stay at nine and Grey's Anatomy will repeat at 10, its normal time slot.
ABC had come under fire from multiple activist groups, including The National Fair Housing Coalition, which put out an alert slamming the show, saying:
"The premise of the show is that the white neighbors living in his "picture perfect" community will have the right to select their new neighbors. The families competing for their approval include African American, Hispanic, Asian American, a white gay couple with a African American child, and a family with non-traditional religious beliefs--all groups protected by federal or state fair housing laws. ABC is sponsoring a program that contradicts these families' legal rights under federal and state Fair Housing Act."
ABC had responded Wednesday night by announcing it would not air the series, saying, "Our intention with Welcome to the Neighborhood was to show the transformative process that takes place when people are forced to confront preconceived notions of what makes a good neighbor, and we believe the series delivers exactly that. However, the fact that the true change only happens over time made the episodic nature of this series challenging, and given the sensitivity of the subject matter in early episodes, we have decided not to air the series at this time."
ABC's summer reality series rollouts have been hit (Dancing With the Stars) and miss (The Scholar).