One of the most dramatic storylines this upfront season has come to an end, with American Pie alum Seann William Scott tapped to star opposite Damon Wayans on Fox’s Lethal Weapon. He replaces original co-lead Clayne Crawford, whose option for next season will not be picked up by producer Warner Bros. TV over on-set behavior issues.
With Wayans and Scott as new leading duo, Lethal Weapon has been renewed for a third season about 24 hours before Fox is slated to unveil its fall 2018 schedule to advertisers at its upfront presentation. There is no renewal decision yet on WBTV’s remaining series at Fox, Gotham, which is still being considered for next season.
In his first series regular role, Scott will play a new character who will be partnered with Wayans’ Murtaugh. The recent Season 2 finale of Lethal Weapon laid the groundwork for Crawford’s exit with a cliffhanger, in which (SPOILER ALERT) Crawford’s Riggs, already planning to move back to Texas with Molly and her son, was shot in the chest. There is chatter that Scott could play Riggs’ brother.
“Seann is a fantastic addition to this already amazing cast,” said Fox Entertainment president Michael Thorn. “Lethal Weapon is packed with action, drama and pure fun and we can’t wait to see Damon and Seann together on screen. Matt Miller, his incredible team and everyone at Warner Bros. have been tremendous partners, and we’re thrilled to bring this show back for another season.”
Lethal Weapon, as the youngest and highest rated of the three Warner Bros TV drama series for Fox, was considered a shoo-in for renewal until the behind-the scene problems involving Crawford threw the pickup in limbo.
Crawford admitted to being disciplined over two on-set incidents involving outbursts, giving his side of the story and apologizing for “my part of the conflict.” The situation escalated to a point where Warner Bros. TV started exploring a recasting — a rare and dramatic move when involving a lead of an established series, especially when an iconic character like Riggs is involved.
A number of actors were approached in the last couple of weeks. Scott emerged as a choice earlier this week, with negotiations wrapping over the spa of a few days. His casting was sealed after he met with Wayans over the weekend.
Cast members’ contracts are renewed on an annual basis, with the studio exercising their option to pick up an actor for another season. “Warner Bros. Television has decided not to renew Clayne Crawford’s contract for Lethal Weapon,” the studio said in a statement.
I hear WBTV would not deliver the series to Fox with Crawford in it. According to sources, the decision to replace the actor was not made lightly, as it could’ve jeopardized the future of a series that is a profit-generator for the studio, and it stems from the studio’s zero tolerance policy on behavior that is deemed inappropriate.
Based on the movie franchise, Lethal Weapon co-stars Keesha Sharp, Kevin Rahm, Jordana Brewster, Johnathan Fernandez, Dante Brown, Chandler Kinney and Michelle Mitchenor.
This season, Lethal Weapon averaged a 1.7 most current rating among adults 18-49 and 6.9 million total viewers. In multi-platform average audience, Lethal Weapon averages 8.7 million (+105% vs. Live+Same Day), and is Fox’s No. 2 returning drama behind Empire.
While Lethal Weapon is down 29% in adults 18-49 and 25% in total viewers vs. last season as it moved to a new, more competitive time slot (Tuesday 8 PM) — ranking No. 4 among broadcast programs in adults 18-49 in the hour — the show is placing among the season’s top 20 broadcast dramas among men 18-49 and top 10 with men 18-34. It also over-indexes in African-American homes (165 index) and ranks among the season’s top 15 broadcast dramas among African-American adults 18-49.
This will be the first TV series for Scott, best known for his role as Stifler in the American Pie movie franchise. Recently seen in Super Troopers 2, he is repped by ICM Partners and 3 Arts.
Lethal Weapon is produced by Warner Bros. Television in association with Lin Pictures and Good Session Productions. Matt Miller, Dan Lin, Jennifer Gwartz and McG serve as executive producers.