Friday, October 2, 2009

Rome wasn't built in a day, but television executives haven't figured it out yet

In my own opinion, a new television show is like a fresh plant. You need to give it time to grow and nurture, or in this case, to find and develop a fan following.

Unfortunately, in this day and age, network programmers have been conditioned to do one single thing if a new show doesn't produce the necessary numbers (read: ratings) the first time out of the box. Panic. It happens every year. Just as unfortunate is the fact that the network that made the first cancellation of the young season is one that is already on very shaky ground because of some questionable decision making within the last year and a half.

The CW, the ill-advised union of UPN & The WB, pulled the plug on The Beautiful Life after just 2 episodes. The reaction on at least one internet message board I frequent was predictable. Cancelling Life only added grist to the mill for those alienated by CW programming head Dawn Ostroff, who has been derided by the internet community as being clueless. After all, this is the woman who decided that WWE Smackdown didn't belong on her network anymore, and so she cut it after 2 seasons (Smackdown begins its 11th season overall, 2nd on MyTV, tonight).

Beautiful Life had a couple of good things going for it. 1) It had America's Next Top Model as its lead-in on Wednesdays, and 2) actor Ashton Kutcher (ex-That 70's Show) was attached as executive producer, veering away from the pseudo-reality shows he's otherwise associated with (Punk'd, Beauty & the Geek). Perhaps what offset both factors was the off-screen, pre-season drama involving the show's star, Mischa Barton (ex-The O. C.), another of the tabloid magnets that can't seem to get away from the headlines for too long. Not only that, but with the show being a fictionalized account of aspiring models, airing in back of a reality show about modeling might not have been the best move after all. They say opposites are supposed to attract. Not in this case, it would seem.

Ostroff and her corporate bosses have decided to repurpose the revived Melrose Place in place of Life. With Top Model being repurposed on Fridays, it speaks to the network's lack of depth in terms of overall programming, something Ostroff has been unable to address since jettisoning Smackdown last year. Perhaps Life hit close to home for Ostroff herself. If the stereotypical aspiring model is supposed to be vapid and devoid of common sense, well, doesn't that describe Ostroff, too?

4 episodes are in the can, yet to air. I'm willing to lay good odds that Life will resurface sooner than anyone thinks, on the one channel that celebrates the vapid and clueless----MTV. After all, they might as well say the "M" doesn't stand for music anymore.

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