'Parenthood' Renewal in Question With Pay Cuts on the Table

Parenthood, "Happy Thanksgiving" (2010)

The chaos that family holidays bring is no stranger to Parenthood. In the end, however, the drama emphasizes the deep connection that exists between the families.

Having already announced a batch of new hourlong shows for the fall, NBC remains silent on the fate of the long-running but low-rated Parenthood. Scuttlebutt at the network is that executives are in a tough negotiation, trying to get the actors and producers to take a pay cut. Even in victory, insiders say, the network would order at most 13 more episodes for a final season.

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The show, which just wrapped its fifth season, has always been expensive due to a cast of regulars that includes Peter Krause, Lauren Graham, Dax Shepard, Monica Potter, Erika Christensen, Craig T. Nelson, Bonnie Bedelia, Mae Whitman and several more. A source says NBC wrestled the cost to around $3.5 million a few years ago and has since refused any pay raises. For the past few seasons, the series, which doesn’t generate strong revenues from overseas, was saved by a deal with Netflix. A source with knowledge of the situation says NBC wants to make Parenthood “more economically feasible.”

The series has been the 10 p.m. Thursday slot's first consistent performer on NBC in years, averaging a 1.3 in the key demo. Its night-of showing is modest, but it typically outperforms everything else the network airs that night and it jumps 77 percent with seven days of DVR viewing. Still, an informed source says the costs are “crazy for a show that does that rating.”

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Parenthood's following is small but passionate. It is the network’s only family soap and it’s perceived as NBC’s biggest quality play though it is consistently snubbed for major awards. (The show’s only Emmy nomination went to Jason Ritter in 2012. Potter was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance as her character battled cancer in the show’s fourth season but didn’t win.)

One talent rep holds out hope, saying, “This is a beloved show at the network.” Also beloved is the show’s creator, Jason Katims, whose new series, About a Boy, has already been renewed. That show averages a 2.4 rating in adults 18-49 in a slot behind The Voice.