Producers of Last Man Standing do not plan to address whether Tim Allen’s conservative lead character is a member of President Donald Trump’s base, Fox TV Group chairman/CEO Gary Newman told TV critics at TCA.
“He’s a character with a conservative viewpoint,” Newman acknowledged, but added that he thinks of the character as having a “fairly centrist viewpoint.”
A year after the series was canceled by ABC, Fox announced it was resuscitating the multi-cam comedy this coming season. Created by Jack Burditt, Last Man Standing stars Allen as Mike Baxter, a married father of three girls.
Last Man Standing was ABC’s second most-watched comedy, after Modern Family, averaging 8.3 million viewers in Live + 7 for the 2016-2017 season. Among the key adults 18-49 demographic, the series averaged a 1.7/7. The series ranked as the No. 1 new program across all syndication when it debuted off-net in the 2016-2017 season. Even so, ABC pulled the plug. Fans reacted in a big way; it became a rallying cry for conservatives who launched a petition to convince ABC to bring back “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.”
Chatter about resurrection grew much louder when ABC’s Roseanne revival became a hit last spring, what with both shows starring actors who headlined wildly popular ’90s comedies, both starring supporters of President Donald Trump, and both reflecting conservative views rarely seen in scripted TV series.
Newman said ABC canceled Last Man Standing, despite its ratings success, because that network wanted to program Friday nights with programming it produces; Last Man Standing is Fox-produced.
What made the Last Man revival even more attractive was landing Thursday Night Football to use as a promotional platform, Newman explained. And, he acknowledged, the success of Roseanne was a reminder that family comedy with a “strong central character” plays well in the “middle of the country” which he called a “pretty powerful show to have.”