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Upfront TV: “Smash” Crashing | Lohan as Liz on Lifetime | Spike Ditches Scripts for Reality

Published on February 21, 2012
  • Signs of ill health at NBC’s much-marketed “Smash,” reports Adweek. The show depicts young hopefuls trying to make it on Broadway. After debuting on February 6 with 11.4 million viewers and a 3.8 rating among adults 18-49, it dropped to a 2.8 rating in week two. Even in its premiere, the show lost viewers, with 14.1 million tuning in at the top of the hour and 10.1 million watching the full hour. This is reminiscent of ABC’s short lived “My So-Called Life,” the 1994 teen drama; a darling among critics, a limited taste among viewers; but also of NBC’s “The West Wing,” which struggled in its 1999 premiere season, yet ran until 2006.
  • A potential ratings bonanza for Lifetime. Lindsey Lohan will be on the small screen, playing Elizabeth Taylor in the Lifetime TV movie “Liz and Dick,” reports Access Hollywood. No air date yet, but Lifetime scores big with its original movies—chiefly true-crime dramas with name actors, like its Rob Lowe vehicle “Drew Peterson: Untouchable,” which in January drew 5.8 million viewers on Saturday night, for a 4.25 rating. Supposedly, producer Larry Thompson has inked a “stay out of trouble” clause into Lohan’s contract.
  • “Vampire Diaries” hero Taylor Kinney will play an adrenaline-junkie firefighter in NBC’s “Chicago Fire,” reports Deadline Hollywood. Dick Wolf of the “Law & Order” franchise will produce. Like “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” this series will depict an “elite squad,” sent to tackle the most dangerous fires or rescue operations.
  • Spike has cancelled “Blue Mountain State,” and will focus on unscripted series, reports TVByTheNumbers. The scripted half-hour series followed the misadventures of a college football team, and ran for three seasons. Spike will shift its focus from scripted programming to the relatively low-cost reality programming, according to Variety, which interviewed Spike’s executive VP of original series. It has picked up a second season of 13 episodes of “Ink Master,” an elimination show about tattoo artistry, and will premiere “American Digger” on March 20. “Digger” follows one-time pro wrestler Ric Savage, looking for buried treasure in back yards.
  • Cable channels took some top honors at last week’s 43rd Annual NAACP Image Awards, reports Multichannel News. Malcolm Jamal Warner took best actor for BET’s “Read Between The Lines,” and co-star Tracy Ellis Ross for Best Actress. TBS’s “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne” won best comedy series, and star Keshia Night Pulliam earned best supporting actress in a comedy series. HBO’s “Thurgood,” a biopic of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, won for outstanding original film or mini-series, and its star Laurence Fishburne for outstanding actor.