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Will Lifetime renew ‘Drop Dead Diva,’ shot in Peachtree City, for a fifth season?

Jane's wedding didn't quite go through as planned. CREDIT: Lifetime

Jane's wedding didn't quite go through as planned. CREDIT: Lifetime

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.

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17 comments Add your comment

Merle Dixon

October 17th, 2012
10:21 am

If LIFETIME: TELEVISION OF MEN HATERS changes the name of this show to “The Walking Dead Diva,” they will probably get many more viewers.

How’s about a hug for your ol’ pal Merle?

Joy

October 17th, 2012
10:32 am

Actually you got it wrong. Deb is in Jane’s body and the real Jane landed in Owen’s body on the Season finale. I am indeed a fan that hopes the show is renewed for another season!

Thrash

October 17th, 2012
10:45 am

Lifetime is one of those channels straight men block on their cable box.

Insider

October 17th, 2012
1:21 pm

Even if it is renewed, doesn’t necessarily mean it will stay in Georgia. Brooke Elliott and Kate Levering both hate it here and have made it very clear that they want filming of the show moved to California.

Follower of Diva

October 17th, 2012
2:55 pm

Brook Elliott did not want to come back for the last season….She is ready to move on. Without Brook, there is no Jane!

innerjuju

October 17th, 2012
7:17 pm

I quit watching when all the new body swapping occurred. How insane. It just made for such stupid plot stories that I just could no longer watch.

[...] I just wrote about the iffy status of “Drop Dead Diva.” [...]

Brenda

October 18th, 2012
7:11 am

Hated the season finale….really don’t care if it comes back even though I have watched it since the very first season. Loved the show but this year the story lines were just not there.

Marissa

October 18th, 2012
8:14 am

LOL @ innerjuju – then you stopped watching at the very last episode of last season. There hasn’t been “all new body swapping” at all.

I’m hoping this gets renewed for season 5. I wasn’t aware that Kate Levering hated Atlanta. Her character is disposable, so drop her from her contract and save that $$$.

www

October 18th, 2012
11:49 am

brooke elliott is gross.

i’ve been on the set several times and she likes to belch loudly between takes and doesn’t bother to say excuse me.

she just lets it hang in the air and then her minions tell people she has stomach issues or whatever.

just a gross person all around.

if the show doesn’t come back it will be bad news for the people who make a living off the show but let’s be real – it’s a stupid show and the “star” has no business being on tv.

FM Fats

October 18th, 2012
12:10 pm

Do they ever show any of Margaret Cho’s ink on DDD?

Jude74

October 18th, 2012
12:31 pm

If find it very difficult to believe that Brook Elliott and/or Kate Levering want to leave the show. While I believe they would rather shoot in LA they still would rather be hot and employed in Atlanta then hot and unemployed in LA. If you check their IMDB profiles neither has much going on right now. However I bet that the men of DDD especially Jackson Hurst would not mind seeing the show call it a day. Hurst is starting to get network work and would probably love to do a David Boreanez hence sticking with Josh Berman. As for the show getting renewed, it probably has something to do with the show runners schedule. Berman is currently working on that Fox bomb The Mob Doctor. Since the Mob Doctor is Fox’s only new drama this fall they are probably going to stick it out for a full 13 and Lifetime wants to know if he will be available to run Diva and if so when. Otherwise they will hire a new show runner and probably give them a final season with an order to tie up loose ends.

The Descending Zipper

October 18th, 2012
2:37 pm

If Brook Elliott hates Atlanta and now thinks herself “too good” for this show, *F* her chunky behind!

They could Monica Lewinsky to replace her for less $$$, simultaneously generating out-of-this-world publicity and getting many more viewers (including straight men) to tune in as well.

Heck, they can probably even get a former President to guest star.

cynna

October 19th, 2012
12:46 pm

I don’t have cable TV, but I found this show in May 2012 on Netflix. I was curious so I watched the pilot. I then watched all of seasons 1, 2, and 3. Then each week I bought the episodes of season 4 from Amazon.com. I have since purchased the DVD sets of seasons 1, 2, and 3 – season 4 is not released yet. I am invested in this program and would love to be a REAL CONCLUSION. I’ve been waiting to see if the season 5 renewal is announced – hence I am here. It would be wrong to leave the show without a true conclusion. They should renew without even considering the end is in sight, but with a purpose of providing well scripted and entertaining episodes as in the first seasons.

I admit I was angry with the last episode’s crazy off-kilter kiss between Grayson and Jane, and the untimely heart attack by Owen, who then received Jane’s spirit. Just a messy and hurried finish that leaves us all hanging so TRUE CLOSURE.

karen lindsey

October 19th, 2012
1:39 pm

for many reasons, i think Diva, for all its flaws, is one of the best shows on TV. one of the reasons i think is illustrated is one of the anti-diva comments. too bad if elliot belches and doesn’t apologize. if that’s her only personal flaw, i’d put her up there with mother theresa. most of us do worse things that that. and in any case, viewers don’t have to deal with it. we don’t see brooke; we see jane. but the tipoff is the comment that follows: she is ‘gross’ in every way. another comment refers snidely to her being ‘chunky.’ this is one of the very few shows we EVER get to see that suggests in its premise that women don’t have to fit the presumed standard of female beauty. the prejudice of those comments is pretty self-evident. as for the show’s ‘failure’ to attract straight male: though i’m sure lifetime would love to have all the viewers it can get, its very existence is about its target audience. we’re called women. and a lot of us love it. if, as you suggest, a lot of gay men love it, wonderful. [but why not throw in the increasingly irrelevant dollop of homophobia while we're at it? who cares about a gay male audience? the networks, apparently do, as all the attention to gay men playing straight men has gotten of late. in that all-important world of economics, gay men as a group have been historically better off than their straight peers, since [again, historically, as this seems to be changing] they have not had the expense of raising kids], –so in fact, though a minority, they aren’t a bad audience to attract, as tv producers have known for years, and exploited in a more closet-y way than current trends allow.
thanks, by the way, for a column that doesn’t reflect any of these attitudes. i hope you’re right about the show getting another season, and wrong about its continuing beyond that. there is so much potential depth that the show could explore if they chose, that i could see it morphing a bit more toward the ‘drama’ of it dramady approach, without losing its comic edge, and acquiring a renewed freshness.

dddive or done

October 20th, 2012
11:28 am

They put up a ‘For Sale/Available’ sign in front of the studio in Peachtree City earlier this year. That might be a clue.

Loreta

October 23rd, 2012
7:34 pm

I love Drop Dead Diva and am watching it from start from finish now. I am so looking forward to the beginning of the new season. Please don’t cancel this show. It is just too good a program. Brooke Elliot is a wonderful actress and believe this program would not be as good without her. Brooke has become one of my all time favorite actors..leading ladies.