There is a new potential home for canceled ABC comedy series Last Man Standing. CMT, which carries reruns of the Tim Allen-starring sitcom, has engaged in conversations with the studio behind Last Man Standing, 20th Century Fox TV, about possibly ordering original episodes. The talks are preliminary, exploring the financial feasibility of producing the series for CMT, which would involve virtually everyone on the show taking a pay cut. A deal is considered a long shot though not impossible.
While the studio has reached out to the writers on the show, who had all scattered to pursue other jobs, the cast has not been approached about extending their options, which expire in two weeks. Depending whether talks with CMT progress, the studio would likely move to pick up the actors if there is a reasonable chance for a deal.
Last year, CMT was able to reach an agreement for another canceled ABC series, drama Nashville, with the help of Hulu, which shared the cost in exchange for next-day streaming rights. With CMT’s appeal in the heartland, where Last Man Standing‘s main fan base resides, and with the comedy already doing well on the network in repeats, CMT is considered a suitable home. But the financials of LMS are challenging as it is at the upper end for a broadcast multi-camera comedy series. And, under its recent restructuring, Viacom has been concentrating original scripted programming on its new flagship scripted brand, the Paramount Network. There are only two original scripted series on CMT: drama Nashville, which could potentially migrate to the Paramount Network in the future, and comedy Still The King starring Billy Ray Cyrus.
This is not the first effort to save LMS. Back in May, Fox seriously considered rescuing th e series, which is solid asset for sibling 0th TV with broadcast and cable syndication deals. The network tried to fit Last Man Standing on the schedule but couldn’t find a way to do it.
The cancellation of Last Man Standing by ABC after six seasons become a rallying cry for conservatives, with a petition launched that calls for ABC to bring back the series and for a boycott of the network if it doesn’t. The petition, which refers to Last Man Standing as a show that appeals to a broad swath of Americans who find very few shows that extol the virtues with which they can identify — namely conservative values — quickly reached its goal of 150,000 signatures.
With a central character — played by Republican Allen — who is a political conservative and devout Christian adhering to traditional American values, the blue-collar comedy appeals to the same constituency that helped elect Donald Trump as president and has been energized post-election.
The sitcom, which aired on the low-trafficked Friday night, is coming off one of its strongest seasons on ABC, averaging 8.1 million viewers in Live+7 and ranking as ABC’s second-most watched comedy this season, only behind flagship Modern Family (8.7 million), and the third-most watched ABC scripted series overall behind Grey’s Anatomy and Modern Family. It was a surprise off-network hit when it launched in broadcast syndication last fall, possibly giving the sitcom an extra boost on ABC where it hit series highs.