While the news that NBC has decided to cancel its critically acclaimed drama Southland ranks as one of the biggest surprises in the world of television in recent memory, it’s going to take weeks (and possibly months) to fully understand the ramifications of and fallout from this decision. However, one thing is certain: NBC has greatly damaged the relationship it had with John Wells, who has been one of the network’s most successful creative partners for nearly two decades.
In addition to creating network hits like ER and Third Watch, the Southland creator also spent a three-year tour of duty as the showrunner of The West Wing. But after his newest baby was unceremoniously shown the door before it even had a chance to stretch its wings, Wells had this to say to The Hollywood Reporter: “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.” Translation? A big “F You” to Jeff Gaspin and Jay Leno.
In a somewhat ironic twist, Wells — who also happens to be the president of the Writers Guild of America, West — was complaining about NBC’s decision to cede five hours of programming to Jay Leno in August. He told the Los Angeles Times that “We lost five hours’ worth of time periods that have been known throughout the history of the network for putting some really terrific shows on. I wish NBC and Jay Leno well; personally, he’s a very nice guy, but I hope he falls flat on his face and we get five dramas back.” Sadly for Wells and fans of quality television, NBC’s decision that Southland is “too dark and gritty for 9 p.m.” means that, unfortunately, Jay Leno gets the last laugh in this situation. We’re betting it’s the only laugh he’ll get tonight.
NBC cancels ‘Southland’ before its premiere [Live Feed/HR]