1:23pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Last Man Standing' Talks at CMT Break Down Over Cost (Exclusive)
Last Man Standing will not rise again.
Talks between CMT and producers 20th Century Fox Television have broken down and the former ABC comedy starring Tim Allen will not be revived at the Viacom-owned cable network. It's unclear if another potential home for the series will emerge. CMT and 20th TV declined comment.
As The Hollywood Reporter exclusively reported last week, CMT was in preliminary talks to revive the family comedy for what was said to be anywhere from a short order to a multiple-season/20-episode revival. Insiders cautioned at the time that a deal was a long shot given the price tag on the veteran multicamera comedy. That turned out to be true as there will not be a deal between CMT and 20th TV for Last Man Standing and the series remains canceled. Producers 20th TV had already placed calls to writers about a potential revival and the cast remains under contract through the end of June.
CMT would have been a natural new home for Last Man Standing as the niche network airs syndicated repeats of the series. While the deal was considered a long shot, it would not have been out of the question given CMT's history of reviving ABC's country music drama Nashville last year.
ABC canceled Last Man Standing after six seasons in May. The cancellation was among the biggest surprises to come from the broadcast networks during the pre-upfront decision-making period. At the time, Allen tweeted that he was "stunned" and "blindsided" by ABC's decision.
"Last Man Standing was a challenging one for me because it was a steady performer in the ratings, but once we made the decision not to continue with comedies on Fridays, that was where we landed," ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey said last month during a conference call to announce the network's fall schedule.
Factoring into the cancellation was ABC's decision to retreat from its multicamera comedy block on Fridays, where Last Man Standing was paired with the since-canceled Dr. Ken. Also contributing to the move was that the pricey comedy was produced by an outside studio (20th Century Fox TV), with Allen also looking for a pay raise as part of his contract renegotiations.
"There are many factors that go into the decision-making process: ratings, critical acclaim … of course we look at ownership structure," Dungey said of the rising importance of ownership at the Big Four broadcast networks. Ultimately, the exec stressed that Allen's political affiliation — he has compared being a conservative in Hollywood to "'30s Germany" — did not play a role in the decision to ax the comedy. "I wouldn't say that was the deciding factor," she said.
Last Man Standing had carved out a solid viewership on little-watched Friday nights. For the uninitiated, that night is typically earmarked for programming with reduced viewership expectations, where a comedy like Last Man Standing and its 1.7 rating among adults 18-49 and 8.3 million viewers is seen as impressive. (Those numbers would be a breakout hit on CMT.)
Speaking with THR after the upfronts, 20th Century Fox Television's Howard Kurtzman singled out Last Man Standing as the most disappointing and surprising pass. "If there's a way to bring it back, we will explore those opportunities," he said.