E! has opted not to renew its first and only remaining original scripted series, The Royals, for a fifth season. I hear the series’ leading producing studio, Lionsgate TV, has been shopping the soapy drama starring Elizabeth Hurley and has been in talks with sister cable network Pop, a co-venture between Lionsgate and CBS, for a possible fifth season pickup.
“E! will not be moving forward with another season of The Royals, which launched in 2015 as the network’s first original scripted series,” an E! spokesperson said in a statement to Deadline. “Over four seasons, The Royals took viewers behind the palace gates on a scandalous journey filled with twists and turns. We are grateful to the cast and our producing partners at Lionsgate and Universal Cable Productions.”
E!’s decision comes three months after The Royals‘ Season 4 finale aired and eight months after the ouster of series creator/executive producer/showrunner Mark Schwahn following an investigation into sexual harassment allegations spanning more than a decade. Filming on Season 4 had already wrapped at the time of Schwahn’s dismissal last December.
The cancellation of The Royals, co-produced by Lionsgate and E! sibling UCP, also follows E!’s May cancellation of The Arrangement, whose second season aired alongside The Royals’ fourth season, with both finales on May 13. It is unclear whether the Schwahn controversy was a contributing factor but E!’s decision not to continue with The Royals is said to have been largely a business one as the series’ most recent fourth season was down -22% among adults 18-49 year to year.
On the scripted side for E! has pilot Juicy Stories from Michael Patrick King.
Meanwhile, I hear Lionsgate TV executives felt that there are more stories to tell in the world of The Royals as the UK royal family, used as an inspiration for the series, has been firmly in the U.S. cultural zeitgeist following Prince Harry’s wedding to American actress Meghan Markle. In anticipation of a possible fifth season, Lionsgate TV had been searching for a new showrunner.
The studio has already one high-profile save of a four-year-old series — it was able to set Nashville up at CMT following the series’ cancellation by ABC after four seasons. The country music drama ran for two more seasons.
Like with Nashville, which moved from a broadcast to a basic cable network, there are significant obstacles to overcome to relocate The Royals from a E! to Pop, which is based on a different business model with lower budgets for its original series.
Still, acquiring a show with built-in fan base like The Royals would likely give Pop an audience boost the way Nashville did for CMT, which would be beneficial to the net’s co-owners Lionsgate and CBS.
Pop has been looking for a second signature series to join its flagship comedy Schitt’s Creek. The network has high hopes for the upcoming Flack starring Anna Paquin.
Created by Schwahn, The Royals follows a fictional modern day royal family as they find love, conspire against one another, and are forced to face long-hidden secrets, all in the name of the crown. The series stars Hurley, Jake Maskall, William Moseley, Alexandra Park, Damian Hurley and Tom Austen.
The Royals is executive produced by Brian Robbins, Joe Davola and Shauna Phelan.
UPDATE: Lionsgate TV on Twitter confirmed its efforts to find a new home for The Royals: