EXCLUSIVE: Linda Wallem and Liz Brixius, co-creators/executive producers/co-showrunners of Nurse Jackie, are leaving the Showtime comedy series. Nurse Jackie already wrapped production on the current fourth season. With the show off to a good ratings start and stabilizing itself creatively this season, a fifth-season renewal is considered a safe bet. I hear that Showtime is already in discussions with a potential new showrunner to join and work alongside executive producer/star Edie Falco and executive producer Richie Jackson. Working on Nurse Jackie had been challenging logistically for both Wallem and Brixius, who are from Los Angeles and had to split their time between the West Coast and New York, where Nurse Jackie is filmed, for the past four years. “This has been the best job of my life, but the travel, having to spend six months (in LA) and six months (in NY) and be away from home, took a toll on me,” said Wallem, who is in a relationship with singer Melissa Etheridge. “I have four stepkids, and I would miss all of the family stuff.” Also, with the series getting a creative reboot this season as Jackie heads to rehab and with ratings up, Wallem said she felt the time was right to make her move. In its recent Season 4 premiere, Nurse Jackie drew 653,000 viewers in its original airing, up 7% from last season’s opener, and a total of 1.1 million viewers for the night, up 30% from last year. Wallem said she is currently spending her time “doing carpooling and making lunches” for her stepkids while exploring options for Los Angeles-based TV jobs. Wallem has an extensive resume. She started as a writer on Cybill, and served as executive producer on That ’70s Show and That ’80s Show and as a co-executive producer on HBO’s cult comedy The Comeback.
Brixius, for whom Nurse Jackie was her first series, also said leaving the Showtime/Lionsgate TV show was hard to do. “Nurse Jackie has been the ride of a lifetime, and for that I am especially grateful to Showtime, Lionsgate and the incomparable Edie Falco for bringing these stories to life,” she said. “After four years, I have decided to come home to LA — even though my heart is at All Saints.” Brixius explored the possibility of staying on with another co-showrunner before opting to depart the series as well. In addition to her stint on Nurse Jackie, Brixius also has been busy in features; she co-wrote the recent Katherine Heigl movie One For The Money. Working together for the past couple of years has been challenging for Wallem and Brixius on the personal level too as the two were once a couple. Before Nurse Jackie, they teamed to co-create another Showtime project, Insatiable, which went to pilot. Wallem and Brixius shared a slew of nominations and awards for Nurse Jackie, including a Humanitas Prize.