Lawrence postpones 'Scrubs' finale

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"Scrubs" creator Bill Lawrence declined a pre-strike request to pen a backup ending that would have allowed the ABC Studios production to shoot a series finale even if the strike continued into next year.

Lawrence instead decided to write the scripts for the NBC hospital sitcom as he normally would and not honor the request to pen scenes in which, as he described it, "two people kiss," which could have served as an emergency series capper.

The creator said that in its place he will write a finale and battle with the studio to get it shown, even if it has to happen next season. "I will use all my leverage to end this show properly, even if it means I have to do all the voices myself and call people up to read it over the phone," he said.

Lawrence, appearing at a New York Comedy Festival event Saturday with the show's cast, said roughly seven episodes of the show's 18-episode order haven't been written. That means that "Scrubs" could be forced into reruns as early as January.

All but one of the scripts turned in by the deadline have been shot, Lawrence said.

Lawrence has opted not to cross the picket line to edit or work on "Scrubs" in any way; producer Randall Winston and other non-WGA members are now at the edit board for the show, which shoots at the defunct North Hollywood Medical Center in the San Fernando Valley.

If a finale didn't air on NBC, it could end up at ABC; current programming chief Steve McPherson developed the series when he ran Touchstone, and there had previously been talk that the show could jump to ABC if it wasn't renewed by NBC.

The New York Comedy Festival event Saturday originally planned on screening an as-yet-unseen episode of the show. But Lawrence said that the episode couldn't be completed because of the strike, so a previously aired episode was screened instead.

The creative team of "Scrubs" is in a difficult position. With the series in the middle of its final season, staff on the show could soon break without knowing if they'll work together again.

"I didn't think it would be over so quickly," series star Zach Braff said. "We're all getting a dose of 'this could be over next week' instead of 'this could be over in January.' "

A seventh season of the NBC series was a question mark earlier in the year, but the net opted to pick up the show as part of its Thursday-night comedy block.

In its seven years on the air, "Scrubs" has drawn a comparatively small but devoted fan base and the single-camera sitcom has sometimes had a bumpy time with network execs who have been confused by its genre-defying style.

Lawrence on Saturday recounted incidents in which the network wanted him to add elements that would more clearly define the show. "Initially, we had a lot of interference because they didn't know if it was a comedy or a drama. They kept hammering me about it."
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