Josh Lucas of The Firm: still in witness protection plan?

PASADENA, CA–In Canada, The Firm got off to a so-so start. In the United States, it was sacked by football.
The two-hour pilot, which aired Sunday from 9 to 11 p.m., opened to an overnight, average audience of 1,075,000 viewers in Canada. Less promising for Global is that only 390,000 of those viewers were in the A25-54 demo.
Global’s PR dept. tried to spin that into a win, pointing out in a release that it beat CTV imports Desperate Housewives and Pan Am in the timeslot, but a) CTV’s Sunday night schedule was delayed due a football playoff game overrun with 1,655,000 watching another miracle comeback for Bronco quarterback Tim Tebow and b) it’s not much of a boast when you beat two shows heading for cancellation.
Global, a partner with NBC on the Mississauga, Ont.-produced law drama, heavily promoted the series premiere. Yet The Simpsons at 8 p.m. drew an even bigger audience (1,088.000 in 2+ and way more viewers in the demo).
NBC did not get the lift they were looking for with The Firm, which opened Stateside to 6.4 million viewers–the Peacock network’s lowest rated regular season drama debut ever. The series was blindsided by the 18-minute CBS Tebow Time delay, which scrambled the rest of the schedule and sacked The Firm’s chances of finding an opening. The NFL playoff game drew an astonishing 41.89 million CBS viewers according to preliminary Nielsen reports.
NBC’s dilemma is that it ordered 22 episodes of The Firm, an extrordinarily large order these days for a mid-season replacement series. They took that risk, NBC Chairman Robert Greenblatt told me Friday at NBC’s press tour session, because much of the cost of the series was absorbed by international partnership deals. Toronto-based eOne partnered with Sony Pictures Television and Paramount Pictures on the deal, with Sony muscling early launches for the series across Latin America, Asia and Central Europe. “They came to us with that show fully financed around the world, with Canada being the key to it,” said Greenblatt, who was able to order 22 episodes for what NBC would normally pay for 13.
Still, as Greenblatt also said, “it’s not just about financing–you have to find the right show.” NBC has to be hoping the Live+3 and Live+7 numbers show a lot of people watched football but banked The Firm in order to live with what seemed like a good deal.

1 Comment

  1. “NBC’s dilemma is that it ordered 22 episodes of The Firm”.

    Bill, again love the spin and deception and falling for US media style that you used to be above. NBC didn’t order 22 episodes. Sony wants 22 and Sony paid for 22. NBC was in a take-it-all-or-look-like-an-idiot-for-only-taking-part-of-it-or-take-none-of-it situation.

    Look at your own article. You have a quote from the guy at NBC explaining how the show as a full package was offered at an appealing price. How then can that same guy who was offered the show also be the guy who commissioned the show for 22 episodes?

    Much like the bosses at Bell don’t decide how many episodes of Grey’s Anatomy will get made this season Mr Greenblatt had no say in it being 22 episodes. In other parts of the world where Sony is broadcasting The Firm it is not ‘mid-season’. Aligning it globally rather than having a 3 month delay like was done with The Listener is the explanation for the unconventional situation.

    The style of story-telling is also rather unconventional. Some say it is the show’s greatest flaw. I say BRAVO! for not being cookie-cutter. A serialised legal drama told primarily in the past as explanation for the slices of “present” that open and close each episode is a refreshing and interesting presentation.

    Sadly i do agree that the ratings are far from satisfactory. I wonder how the show is doing on AXN.

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