- - Wednesday, October 5, 2011

‘The Playboy Club‘ canceled, becomes fall’s first casualty

NBC’s Playboy bunnies are being replaced by Brian Williams, the Associated Press reports.

The network said Tuesday that its 1960s period-piece drama, “The Playboy Club,” is being canceled, less than 24 hours after the new series drew just 3.5 million people for its third episode. It’s the first cancellation of the fall TV season.

Mr. Williams‘ new prime-time newsmagazine, “Rock Center,” will take over the 10 p.m. slot on Mondays, starting Halloween night. Reruns of the drama “Prime Suspect” will fill the hour for the next three weeks.

“The Playboy Club” started weak, with 5 million viewers for its first episode, and didn’t improve.

Set in a Chicago club and evoking the era and attitude made fashionable by “Mad Men,” the drama was hurt by strong competition. Both “Hawaii Five-0” on CBS and “Castle” on ABC are their networks’ strongest 10 p.m. dramas, said Bill Gorman of the website TV by the Numbers. The viewership for “Castle” is up 8 percent over the first two weeks of last year, according to Nielsen ratings.

NBC’s drama drew mixed reviews and protests by activists who tried to encourage an advertiser boycott, deeming the material inappropriate for network television.

Mike Hale of the New York Times wrote that the series was “an unwieldy and mostly humdrum combination of mob tale and backstage musical.”

Frazier Moore of the Associated Press, however, called the show “a plush escape” and selected it as one of his 10 new shows worth watching.

Mr. Williams, NBC’s top news anchor, has been assembling talent in anticipation of a fall launch for the newsmagazine. “Rock Center” will feature Harry Smith and Kate Snow as correspondents, along with Meredith Vieira, Nancy Snyderman, Richard Engle, Matt Lauer and Ann Curry.

NBC did not give the show a time slot initially but promised one would become available when one of the new shows failed.

‘Simpsons’ negotiations stall, 24th season in jeopardy

In its 23rd year on TV, “The Simpsons” could be on the endangered species list, the Associated Press reports.

The show’s producer said Tuesday that the show can’t continue under its current financial model, following a report that big pay cuts are being sought for the actors who provide voices for Homer, Marge, Bart Simpson and other characters.

“We believe this brilliant series can and should continue, but we cannot produce future seasons under its current financial model,” said Chris Alexander, spokesman for 20th Century Fox Television. He said producers hope a deal can be reached.

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