The first major broadcast TV series to come to Atlanta because of enhanced state tax credits was Lifetime’s “Drop Dead Diva” in 2009. It settled in Peachtree City and became a reliable performer for the network.
But as the show reaches relative middle age, renewal is in doubt.
Why do I say that?
Last year, Lifetime announced it was renewing “Drop Dead Diva” for season four on Sept. 22. In 2010, it gave the green light for the show’s renewal for season three on Sept. 23. In 2009, it renewed the show for season two Aug. 20.
It’s now October 17 and the silence is understandably making cast and crew antsy.
Creator Josh Berman has heard nothing. The Georgia film office has heard zip. Lifetime publicity has no news for me (though I will update this blog entry if I get any insight.)
Nonetheless, I believe there are more reasons why Lifetime would bring “Drop Dead Diva” back than not:
- Ratings. The show isn’t doing as well as its peak season two and when an episode hit a series low of 1.87 million viewers on July 1, crew began wondering if the end was near. But the drama’s numbers edged back up as the summer progressed, finishing with a solid 2.76 million viewers for the Sept. 10 wedding episode, up sharply from the 2.2 million who watched the season 3 finale. Ultimately, the show was watched on average by about the same number of viewers both seasons 3 and 4: 2.3 million viewers. That rebound alone might just save the show.
- The scripted slate is relatively light. Lifetime has its aging “Army Wives,” its top rated show, followed by the surprisingly robust new drama “The Client List.” But other efforts to launch original dramas the past couple of years (”Against the Wall” and “The Protector”) failed. I only know of one other drama series in development, “Cinnamon Girl,” from executive producer Renée Zellweger, a coming-of-age drama set in the turbulent era of late 1960s/early1970s Los Angeles.
- One more time? Lifetime may agree to one more season, which would allow creator Berman to tie up loose ends and finish the story about a model who dies and ends up in the body of a plus-sized attorney.
- Be my guest! Liza Minnelli, Rosie O’Donnell, Tim Gunn, Clay Aiken, Kathy Griffin have all appeared on the show. But there are still gay-friendly guest stars who haven’t been on the show yet. Neil Patrick Harris? What’s taking you so long?
- Finale twist must be dealt with! The show left such a comically absurd season finale season four, it would be cruel to fans not let it play it out. In case you missed it, the original Jane is now in Jane’s fiance Owen’s body. (Deb, the model, is in attorney Jane’s body now.) Jane, in heaven, pressed a button that brought her down to Earth just after Owen had a heart attack seeing Grayson kiss Deb-as-Jane. Body swapping is so confusing!
- Syndication. If “Drop Dead” get a fifth season, that would equal 65 episodes in total, which increases the show’s value in syndication.
Why Lifetime may not renew the show:
- Money. I have no inside knowledge of the budget of this show. Perhaps it’s gotten too expensive and Lifetime would rather funnel more money into “Dance Mom” spinoff shows or develop other scripted dramas.
- Plotting or plodding? Lifetime execs may have seen that season finale, shrugged their shoulders and said, “Enough!”
- More $$$ issues. Perhaps they don’t think the extra season will make much difference in syndication dollars on the other end.