'Southland' star on show's axing: 'I'm pissed off'

Michael-Cudlitz-Southland_lStill scratching your head over NBC’s bizarre decision to renew Southland only to cancel it five months later before a single season 2 episode had aired? You’re not alone. Michael Cudlitz, who plays gay officer John Cooper on the acclaimed drama, is still reeling from the news. In this exclusive Q&A, the actor explains why he’s “pissed off,” weighs in on the show’s chances of finding a new home, and offers a message to shell-shocked fans.

When did you find out?
MICHAEL CUDLITZ:
[Exec producers] Ann Biderman and Christopher Chulack came to the set yesterday and announced it to the cast and crew.

What was your reaction? Did you see it coming?
CUDLITZ:
In retrospect, I saw it coming. We were two weeks away from airing and [the cancellation news] has created more press for the show than NBC has put into it on its own. They ran the first [Southland] ad — a 30-second spot — last Friday, and that’s the only one that they ran. That’s not a relaunch. When you have a network that nobody’s watching, it doesn’t benefit you to only advertise on your network.

What explanation were you given?
CUDLITZ:
We were given the same statement that everyone got. [NBC] said they watched the first [four] episodes and determined that they were too dark. I don’t even know where to go with that. They were the scripts that [NBC] approved for a show that they picked up — a show they themselves advertised as an authentic, raw, and gritty look at the Los Angeles Police Department. So I don’t know what they thought they were getting… There’s something else going on I’m sure. We had a cast and crew screening on Tuesday for the season 2 premiere, and it was phenomenal. It was better than any of the episodes we have aired to date. It was fantastic.

Do you have a theory as to what else might be going on?
CUDLITZ:
I really don’t. What audience are they afraid of pissing off? They don’t have an audience… There’s some speculation that they’re trying to cut costs because they’re trying to sell the network, but I don’t know. The thing that strikes me as very bizarre is that they have [six episodes] in the can, they don’t have anything on right now that is doing well, and our show is good. Why would you not put it on? So something else must be going on.

You’re shooting episode six now, right?
CUDLITZ:
Yes. Today is our third day shooting episode 6. We will finish shooting this episode next week.

Exec producer John Wells said he’s trying to find a new home for the show. Do you hold out any hope for that?
CUDLITZ:
I do because we have episodes that have never aired that are pretty fantastic. And if it moves somewhere else, it could become the show that it should have been initially — which is even darker and grittier.

What happens if no one picks up the show by next week? Will production shut down after you’re done with episode six?
CUDLITZ:
If nothing happens in the next week we will shut down. I imagine if there’s any movement in the next week, then Warner Bros. could step up and foot the bill in the interim while they hammer out a deal.

Are you angry?
CUDLITZ:
I’m pissed. I’ve said it on my Twitter account. I’m pissed off. We had all the pre-season stuff, all the dinners and parties. They told us they loved and believed in the show. They said the [delay] would be good for us. On paper it all made sense so I was willing to believe I was being told the truth… I don’t just walk in one day and go, “Eh, I’m not going to act today. I know I told you I was going to act, but I’m not going to do my thing.” But I guess because they own the ball and the ballpark they get to do that. It’s kind of cheap.

Anything fans can do?
CUDLITZ:
They can express their annoyance. Networks are in this to make money, and it’s obviously proven by this decision. Because if they cared about the quality and the art then they would keep the show on the air just because of that. This was not a show that was costing them a ton of money. This is a show that would more than likely have made them money, even if not a lot. And it was critically-acclaimed, and they still chose to cancel it because of the bottom line. They’re obviously in it for the money. So if you let them know you’re not happy with what they did, that can’t do anything but help.

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Comments (265 total) Add your comment
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  • simmie08

    I’m pissed off about it, I tweeted Michael yesterday with the term ‘maybe a network with balls will pick it up!”

    • charlie

      it’s not a bad show, but it’s not really an NBC show. to be really good it needs to be raw and no major network is going to allow it to go where it needs to go. Someone like HBO or Showtime would have been a better home for such a show. even TNT or USA is a better choice than a Big 3. in the right hands this could be the police version of Rescue Me.

      • Sara

        NBC used to be the home of raw, edgy shows like Homicide Life on the Street, Hill Street Blues, and more. The network has just become cowards lately.

      • craig

        no ones going to pick it up. they said the same things after “Arrested Development”, “My Name Is Earl”, and “Pushing Daisies” were cancelled..and nothing happened in the words of Fred Gwynne in “Pet Sematary” ..DEAD ID DEAD!

      • LeapDayBaby

        @Sara: In today’s environment, sadly, “Homicide” wouldn’t have made it to season 2. Either that, or TPTB would have started shoving Jon Seda’s character (Falsone) down our throats a lot earlier than they did. ;)

      • denise

        The show was soooooooooo boring to watch! what happens when networks get a hit is OVERKILL! We get tooooooooo many of the same.
        NOTHING KEPT ME WATCHING. MERCY IS BAD, TOO…ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT WAS AT LEAST GOOD TV..

      • SpencerHopeful

        I’m pissed off too Michael! I think that this could be an NBC show. Let’s not forget that NYPD Blue was having issues with ABC, with their whole family values TGIF Friday thing, but it lasted 12 years. 12 years people!!!

        NBC lost me with that dumb Jay Leno mess, and now it’s completely losing it’s mind. It’s a damn shame!!!

      • Lucy

        @denise I think Mercy is actually a good show. Maybe USA will pick up Southland. NBC sucks!

    • Marlon Brandy

      This show was awesome, NBC is a total joke, I hope someone picks up this show – it is too good to end now both leading cops turned in great performances. The only part of the show I did not like was the African american detective and her love life storyline, she was a boring character and took time away from the two leads. The other detectives were good too. Problem is, I don’t the other networks would fit- ABC caters to middle aged women, CBS caters to those who like to watch serial shows that you pick up anywhere and watch (CSI, without a trace,etc) CW is for pre-pubescent girls, that leaves FOX which I think would be a great fit- put it with Fringe and they will have 2 of the 4 best dramas on network tv now (the other 2 being LOST and the Mentalist)

      • bootsycolumbia

        Ugh, please, not FOX. They and NBC are equally bad at not supporting good, quality shows. I hope one of the cable networks gets it–they can really run with it and make it TV’s next great cop drama.

      • deb

        Marlon:

        Don’t disparage middle-aged women. I don’t think I ever watch ABC; can’t tell you what’s on it. I do watch Fringe, FastForward, and 24, when it’s on.

      • AshleyBrooke

        Marlon,

        I’m 26 and I watch shows on CW (Supernatural and Smallville). I watch Dollhouse on FOX. I watch the Wednesday night comedies on ABC (including Cougar Town). So let’s not even start going there.

        TNT or FX should pick the show up. It’d be perfect with Dark Blue on TNT.

    • MAGGIE

      Craig,
      What you don’t realize is that those shows you mentioned did not already have six episodes produced when they got the hook. Southland does and it would be a perfect situation for a cable network to pick it up.

  • DavidJ

    Never liked the show myself, but it was STILL pretty messed up the way NBC treated it. And he’s right– it’s not like NBC has anything else (besides it’s Thursday comedies) that’s worth watching.

    • Emma

      Yeah, I don’t get it either. Even Heroes is hemorrhaging viewers. They could have pushed up the premiere to seen how audiences would feel and then decided.

    • Nicole

      I started getting into the show a little late and I think it had potential, but I have to say that I’ve been a die-hard Law & Order SVU fan for years and even though the viewership has probably gone down a bit.. I still think it’s one of the few great NBC shows. Just my opinion! :)

  • AJ

    Sad.

    And I know I ~shouldn’t~ still care about Heroes, but I do, and this has me even more worried for its fate.

  • Sara

    “What audience are they afraid of pissing off? They don’t have an audience…”

    Oh, SNAP. Good for him for being so frank. Love Michael Cudlitz and Southland! Hate NBC!

    • Helenann

      This made me laugh, too….

  • bunker

    I’m really pissed that they canceled this show. It’s the only cop drama I’ve ever liked and it had a great cast! Screw you NBC!!!

  • Dave Smith

    Should we start a #SaveSouthland trend on Twitter, or is it too late?

    • Sara

      Start? It’s been going on since the news broke yesterday.

    • jfan

      I’ve been posting that for a few days now. But there’s no harm in it, it’s basically what saved Dollhouse over on Fox. Twitter trending and massive online viewing numbers.

    • Mulder

      If you want to let NBC know how you feel about this, Executive Email Carpet Bomb (EECB) to jeff.zucker@nbc.com, send snail mail to him at NBC, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10112 and you should also email Jeff.Immelt@ge.com and insist he fire Jeff Zucker immediately and commit to Southland.

    • JC

      Is Twitter the new “letter-writing” campaign. Do you think “Tweets” are really going to change NBC’s mind. Get a grip on reality.

      • sara

        There’s some positive thinking!
        But seriously, these things have made a difference a few times in the past.

      • jfan

        Twitter gave Dollhouse a second season. They didn’t have episodes in the can. Southland DOES have six episodes in the can, showing support for it will make a difference at this point. If another network sees how passionate Southland’s fans are, then they’d be more compelled to pick it up for the 13 episode second season NBC promised us all. Especially since they’d save money having six episodes already made.

  • Christine

    Boo NBC!! Southland is a GREAT show. I hope someone picks it up. It would be a great addition to USA or TNT.

    • james

      i doubt USA would pick it up since its part of the USA family

      • james

        i mean NBC famiy

      • ceejay

        OK, then….. TNT.

  • ks

    This is just the way NBC works, this is not the first show they have done this to. So Sad

    • Kat

      You’re right. They canceled Life as well. I said after that I wouldn’t watch NBC again. And they’ve just proven, again, why they suck as a network.

    • J

      Really, they decided to renew a show and then 2 weeks before it was supposed to premiere said, “oh, nevermind” and pulled the plug? Networks cancel shows all the time, but never like this. That’s why there’s so much anger over this decision.

  • CandyMaize

    I LIKED the show. I’m very disappointed in NBC. But you know, they report to GE and THEY are why NBC has been making decisions like this and Leno at 10pm.

    • Sarah El

      Well whoever’s fault it is for the kind of horrible decision making NBC’s been doing lately, I think there’s a lot of disappointment and frustration going around. :/

      • onestell

        Sarah- The blame should be placed on the shoulders of NBC Universal chairman Jeff Zucker and his boss, GE Chairman Jeffrey Immelt. Let me ask you a question … if you drove your employers’ stock price from $39.66 a share to $16.18 a share, would you be let go? Well, at GE you could be CEO!

    • Sara

      The thing is, you have to take risks to make money. NBC’s playing it safe and giving up.

    • jossfiend

      I thought NBC was owned by the Scheinhardt Wig Company; that’s the way they act! (reference to 30 Rock, in case you missed it)

  • Honey

    It would be wonderful if a cable network picked up a show. I hate that the networks are abandoning interesting, quality shows. It really is bad for the medium.

  • Sarah El

    “We were two weeks away from airing and [the cancellation news] has created more press for the show than NBC has put into it on its own.”

    I feel so bad for everyone at Southland that they would see this coming thanks to NBC’s total lack of confidence, promotion, and care for one of their still young (and needing a leg up to get the numbers and success that NBC would want of a series) series. Total and utter shame on NBC.

  • jdawg622

    i’m pissed off too. This was one of my favorite shows of last season. It was one of the few shows with real substance on network television. Kudos to Michael for telling it like it is.

  • AE

    This was a stupid move on NBC’s part and I am glad that Cudlitz is being frank about it. Southland and those of us who watched it deserve better.

  • J

    Damn, he ripped NBC a new one. A much deserved new one, I might add. This network is such a mess it’s not even funny.

  • Fred

    the show belongs on TNT or Showtime…specialty show like Rescue Me….hope someone picks it up…was all set to watch the 2nd season…..

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