Here’s something you don’t see every day: two networks spinning, spinning, spinning over the same primetime series renewal, and busy, busy, busy badmouthing each other because of it. I love a Hollywood pissing contest.
CBS right now is on the verge of scheduling Medium, which had been airing on NBC. “Medium is not ordered yet, but probably will be,” a CBS insider tells me. “It’s a show our Entertainment team has always liked and thinks is a good fit.”
Then, CBS issued this unusually angry statement: “NBC’s cancellation of Medium is inexplicable to us. The ratings don’t lie. Medium outperforms many of NBC’s renewed shows. Despite inconsistent scheduling, Medium, under the creative vision of Glenn Gordon Caron, one of the most preeminent producers in television, has always performed with distinction both creatively and commercially. Multiple-award-winning actress Patricia Arquette and the cast have delivered a stellar series for five consistent seasons. The awards and ratings speak for themselves. We believe the show has a significant future and await developments.”
But here’s the thing, I learned that NBC did pick up Medium last Friday, but only for 13 episodes. Endeavor talent agency, which packages the show, wanted 16 episodes (and Patricia Arquette’s contract called for 22 episodes). A difficult negotiation ensued, and CBS swooped in because its CBS Television Studios (formerly known as CBS Paramount TV) produces the show, and may pair it with Ghost Whisperer.
After I reported the above, NBC started spinning me with the news that Medium is rated lower than 2 shows which CBS just cancelled — Eleventh Hour and Without A Trace. Snap!
But then CBS came back with this email to me: “Here’s something NBC won’t want you to know. Medium had more viewers than the following shows that NBC renewed: Southland, Law & Order, Chuck, 30 Rock, Parks And Recreation.” Double-snap!
Then NBC returned fire with its own email explaining why “it was a smart decision” for NBC ultimately to lose the show. “We had several shows on the bubble and a lot of factors to consider. This just didn’t make the cut. So you know, the facts from our side here are some points worth considering: 13 episodes is all we had the appetite for at a greatly reduced price consistent with the greatly reduced ratings. 16 eps at their price made even less sense. It’s not just about the number of eps ordered, or the ratings performance, it’s also about the cost of the show to us. And with regard to other dramas having lower ratings, I would remind you that each show faces different time period competition. So, again, it isn’t just about the rating. It isn’t apples to apples comparison. Also, there is more upside for the younger/newer shows. Medium had one of the best lead-ins on our schedule. And it is lower-rated than shows CBS has canceled. By the way, last night it was down to a 1.9 rating. It is a record low for an original.” Triple-snap! No emails since.