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Produced by Warner Bros. Television and counting J.J. Abrams and Winnie Holzman among its executive producers, Roadies explored a tight-knit group of rock band “roadies” as the Almost Famous mastermind and former music journalist looked to shed light on the goings-on behind a rock tour. Luke Wilson, Carla Gugino and Imogen Poots starred in the drama, which Crowe wrote, directed and exec produced.
The show, which also featured several high-profile musical guest stars, ended its 10-episode run on Aug. 28 with 500,000 total viewers counting three days of delayed viewing. That’s on par with its highly promoted June 26 bow of 499,000 (though the series debuted online a week early.) While the small but loyal viewership was even throughout its run, it’s still a disappointing return, especially when compared with the ratings growth HBO’s critical darling mini The Night Of experienced during effectively the same run. The lackluster ratings paired with Showtime’s lack of ownership of the pricey drama likely resulted in the cancellation.
“Though we could tell a thousand more stories, this run ends with a complete 10-hour tale of music and love,” Crowe wrote in a blog post, noting that he hoped to reunite with much of the cast and creators in another project “soon.” “Like a song that slips under your skin, or a lyric that keeps speaking to you, we hope the spell of Roadies lingers. It was life-changing experience for all of us.”
For its part, Roadies launched to less than stellar reviews. THR chief TV critic Tim Goodman declared “rock ‘n’ roll genocide continues on TV” in response to both the shortcomings of Roadies and the disaster of HBO’s since-canceled Vinyl.
Showtime CEO David Nevins stood by the project during an August appearance at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour. “I think it’s going according to vision. It obviously hasn’t caught on big and we’re still evaluating its future,” he said, calling the series a departure in tone for his network and remarking that he was proud of its “warm ensemble” feel.
Roadies marks the latest scripted music series to hit the skids. It joins HBO’s Vinyl, which the fellow premium cabler abandoned after new programming president Casey Bloys reversed course on predecessor Michael Lombardo’s season-two renewal. ABC recently canceled country music drama Nashville, only to see little-watched cabler CMT renew the series (though with a significantly reduced role for leading lady Connie Britton). FX, meanwhile, had found some success with Denis Leary’s Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll, though the comedy was canceled after a low-rated second season.
The Roadies cancellation leaves the cable network with a roster of originals that includes The Affair, Homeland, Masters of Sex, Ray Donovan, Shameless and Billions as well as upcoming series I’m Dying Up Here, Daniel Craig starrer Purity, Idris Elba and John Ridley entry Guerrilla, David Lynch’s long-awaited Twin Peaks revival and pilots Mating with Taran Killam and White Famous with Jay Pharaoh.
For his part, Abrams’ next TV foray is HBO’s pricey Westworld reboot. That drama, which has been delayed twice after production problems, is set to debut in October.
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