NBC's Deadline Gets Red-Inked

NBC has given journalism drama Deadline its final assignment. The prime-time show, produced by Law & Order's Dick Wolf, has become the network's third Monday night series to get the axe less than a month into the new season.

Deadline, which starred Oliver Platt as a crime-sniffing reporter at a New York Post-like paper, suffered from poor ratings during its five-week run, Variety notes. Between its Oct. 2 premiere and its final episode Monday, Deadline saw half of its audience vanish. Its 4.7 rating Monday was allegedly the peacock net's lowest in-season rating ever with original programming.

The drama, despite boasting a strong cast (the ubiquitous Lili Taylor, vet actress Bebe Neuwirth, indie film mainstay Hope Davis, and Scottish actor Tom Conti), was given a lukewarm reception by critics. Deadline also faced stiff competition from the rising Everybody Loves Raymond on CBS, ABC's Monday Night Football, and Fox's Ally McBeal.

On the other hand, the dismal ratings performance by Deadline makes it hard to argue that the series might have worked on another night, had NBC decided to move it elsewhere. After the network canceled house-husband comedy Daddio and the coming-of-age sitcom Tucker last week, Deadline was given a lead-in by the more compatible Dateline news program.

While the newsmagazine scored dramatically better Nielsen numbers than the sitcoms, the improved lead-in wasn't enough to boost Deadline, which actually declined vs. its week-ago numbers. Deadline's failure to show any improvement convinced NBC execs that there was no upside in keeping the presses rolling.

Ironically, NBC will fill Deadline's slot with a repeat episode of Wolf's Law & Order next week. It has not announced what will fill the 9 p.m. hole after that.

A ratings point represents 1,022,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation's estimated 102.2 million TV homes.