In a week when Pop was hit by major layoffs, the ViacomCBS network also saw its original scripted slate gutted, with three of its five series abruptly canceled, Florida Girls, Flack and Best Intentions. All had previously ordered new seasons well in the works.
Florida Girls, from Lionsgate, 3 Arts Entertainment and Jax Media, has already started production on its second season. Best Intentions, from A+E Studios, is two weeks away from start of production on its first season. The Anna Paquin-starring British import Flack saw its plug pulled 10 days before the announced March 13 premiere of Season 2, featuring new cast members Sam Neill and Daniel Dae Kim.
With Pop flagship Schitt’s Creek nearing its series finale, that leaves only one original scripted series on the network, Season 4 of One Day at a Time, which Pop rescued after its cancellation by Netflix. There had been chatter that the praised reimagining of Norman Lear’s classic may move to new Pop sibling TV Land, but the multi-camera comedy will stay put on Pop for the upcoming season, which premieres March 24. (I hear a simulcast on TV Land is still a possibility.)
Pop’s sweeping downsizing in personnel and programming amidst ViacomCBS-wide post-merger cost-cutting raises questions about the network’s future within the new ViacomCBS ecosystem. Last month, Pop, the lone basic cable network owned by CBS Corp. pre-merger, was folded into the ViacomCBS Entertainment & Youth Brands Group, run by Chris McCarthy.
Original scripted programming is an increasingly challenging proposition for ad-supported cable networks amid declining linear ratings, with most networks paring down their scripted portfolios. While sources close to Pop indicate that the network intends to stay in the original scripted business with shows built around ViacomCBS-owned IP, there is speculation that Pop may follow a slew of other basic cable networks that have pulled out of the arena. That includes other nets from the ViacomCBS Entertainment & Youth Brands group, including MTV, VH1 and CMT. TV Land is down to one original scripted series, veteran Younger.
In a memo addressing the mass layoffs at Pop last Friday, Pop President Brad Schwartz noted that “I’ll continue to run Pop and work alongside Chris as part of the Entertainment & Youth senior leadership team across the brands.” That is encouraging news since he has been the architect — and champion — of Pop’s foray into scripted programming.
The sudden demise of Florida Girls, Flack and Best Intentions, first reported by Variety, so late in the game is creating a logistical nightmare for their studios and distributors as they scramble to find new homes for their shows. For now, Florida Girls, which has recently started production, is continuing filming Season 2, I hear.
Meanwhile, ViacomCBS Entertainment & Youth Brands group is pulling its resources for the Schitt’s Creek sendoff. The April 7 series finale will be simulcast on Pop, Comedy Central and Logo.