'Southland' canceled

4:33 PM PST 10/08/2009 by Nellie Andreeva, AP

'Dateline NBC' will air in drama's Friday time slot

Update: TNT eyes 'Southland'

It's the end of the road for drama "Southland," which has been canceled before the launch of its sophomore season.

Production on the John Wells-produced cop series is being shut down after six episodes.

"Southland," from Warner Bros. TV, was originally slated to debut in its new Friday 9 p.m. time slot during premiere week, but in August, NBC opted to push the start to Oct. 23 and air "Dateline NBC" in the meantime.

"Dateline NBC" will now continue to run in the Friday 9 p.m. hour.

It is not clear when the six produced new episodes of "Southland" will air.

Meanwhile, the cop drama starring Ben McKenzie will be shopped to broadcast and cable networks.

"I'm disappointed that NBC no longer has the time periods available to support the kind of critically-acclaimed series that was for so many years, a hallmark of their success," Wells said. "We remain extremely proud of 'Southland' and are actively looking for another home for the series."

"Southland," created by Ann Biderman, got off to a good start when it premiered in midseason in the Thursday 10 p.m. time period, succeeding NBC's long-running medical drama, "ER," also exec produced by Wells.

Additionally, "Southland" garnered solid reviews, but through its initial run last spring, the series showed ratings erosion.

Then came the Jay Leno factor, with NBC forced to shift its 10 p.m. dramas to 9 p.m. to make room for "The Jay Leno Show."

While "Southland" enjoyed support among NBC brass last season, after screening the finished episodes from the upcoming second season, the show's content was deemed too dark and gritty for broadcast TV, especially for 9 p.m. Additionally, a high-end drama like "Southland" is certainly far more expensive than newsmagazine "Dateline" for low-trafficked Friday night.

The cancellation of "Southland" ends (for now) a long relationship between NBC and Wells, who has been behind some of NBC's biggest series, including "ER" and "The West Wing," for the past 15 years.

It hasn't been a good start for NBC's scripted dramas this fall, with rookies "Trauma" and "Mercy" struggling along with most of the returning veterans, including "Heroes" and "Law & Order: SVU," which is still settling into its new Wednesday 9 p.m. slot.
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