'My Name Is Earl' might see new life on TBS

Cable network in talks to order 13 new episodes

"My Name Is Earl" might live on.

TBS is in preliminary talks to order 13 new episodes of the single-camera comedy from 20th Century Fox TV, sources said.

The news comes a couple of weeks after NBC pulled the plug on the 4-year-old series starring Jason Lee in what became one of the highest-profile cancellations of the upfront season.

Ever since "Earl" was put on the bubble for renewal at NBC in the spring, rumors began circulating that the series, which has won five Emmys, might look for another home. Early speculation included 20th TV's sister network Fox, whose entertainment president Kevin Reilly launched "Earl" while at NBC, and ABC, which has been open to acquiring series that have aired on other networks.

"Earl" would make a good fit at TBS, which will run repeats of the offbeat comedy beginning in the fall as part of an off-network syndication deal with Twentieth TV inked in 2007.

Still, sources stressed that the conversations between 20th TV and TBS for new episodes are in the very early stages, and a deal is far from a lock as the sides have to figure out whether an expensive network single-camera series can be produced under a basic cable network's economic model.

Also, while still under a hold at 20th TV, "Earl's" cast has not been lined up for a lower-budget reincarnation.

A cable afterlife for canceled broadcast series often is considered, especially for shows with a devoted fan base, but the idea rarely pans out.

In 2005, Showtime flirted with the idea of picking up Fox's Emmy-winning single-camera comedy "Arrested Development" after it was canceled, but a deal couldn't be reached.

It is easier when the cable network is part of the corporate family.

In 2007, the NBC drama "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" moved to sister cable network USA, with the broadcast network getting a second window on the crime series. The show, which underwent budget trims, is produced by UMS, another NBC Universal entity.
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