NBC sews up 'Scrubs' run

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For the past two years, "Scrubs" creator/executive producer Bill Lawrence had to face months of uncertainty about the future of his underrated comedy on NBC — and rumors of it moving to ABC — only to land an eleventh-hour renewal at the peacock both times. And he is OK with that.

"In today's landscape, it is hard to pony up money for show that does 2s in the ratings," Lawrence said. "It's testament to NBC that they want quality comedy on the network."

Word that ABC, where entertainment president Stephen McPherson developed "Scrubs" at ABC Studios, would pick up the show if it was canceled at NBC gave Lawrence and his team security that the show's current sixth season won't be its last. But the seventh one will be.

"We're happy we can end the show on our own terms," he said. "We've been building toward the next season and the show's last 18 episodes."

As it did last year, NBC picked up the quirky medical comedy, starring Zach Braff, for fewer than 22 episodes. That helps NBC manage its cost because an older show like "Scrubs" requires the network to cover the entire production budget. "Scrubs' " modest ratings also prompted NBC to go for a reduced license fee, which still is expected to keep the series profitable for the studio considering syndication and international sales as well as its reasonable production cost.

With production contained within one location — a Los Angeles-area hospital — the series has managed to stay around $2 million per episode, impressive for a long-running single-camera comedy.

Although he is happy that his show is coming back, Lawrence said he can't ignore the dire straits of the genre, with the networks picking up only a handful of comedies this year.

"I worry about this becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy with the networks thinking that the only thing to do is to put less and less comedies on the air," he said. "I hope other comedies get picked up and have a good shot."
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