The TV Column: Lisa de Moraes on 'Southland,' Seth MacFarlane and 'Family Guy'?

SILENCED: The 20-something stars of "Glee" won't perform at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, but Ballou High's band will.
SILENCED: The 20-something stars of "Glee" won't perform at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, but Ballou High's band will. (Michael Yarish/fox)
By Lisa de Moraes
Tuesday, November 3, 2009

TNT will hold a viewing of the body of "Southland," the NBC cop drama killed by Jay Leno, starting Jan. 12.

TNT plans first to air the initial episodes of the show -- the seven that NBC broadcast last season. Only after that will TNT air the six episodes ordered for this season, then murdered by a programming strategy that gave the 10 o'clock time slot to Leno's talk show, where God intended gritty crime dramas to live.

The decision to have the wake at TNT keeps the loss in the family: Both the cable network and Warner Bros. TV, which produced the series, are part of Time Warner. And while the Warner Bros. TV brood is one of the largest -- it has more than 20 series on the broadcast networks' prime-time schedules this season -- several of its offspring are on life support and one has already been buried. In the ICU are "Hank," "The Forgotten" and "Eastwick." In the morgue is "The Beautiful Life," which was conceived with Ashton Kutcher.

If "Southland" shows any pulse in its 13-week run on TNT, Warner Bros. obviously hopes to keep it alive.

But if not, at least in its 13-week denouement on TNT, "Southland" will be given the chance to do in Jay Leno! Tuesday, after all, is his strongest night in terms of overall audience, thanks in large measure to his "Biggest Loser" lead-in.

NBC promised last spring it would renew "Southland" -- the John Wells drama that succeeded Wells's "ER" on Thursdays at 10. But, because NBC had already announced its decision to turn over 10 o'clock weeknights to Jay Leno in a cost-saving measure, "Southland" had to move to 9. Which is a curious place to put a very dark, grisly crime drama that has lots of bleeped adult language.

And, because "Southland" had fallen off noticeably in ratings from its premiere to its first-season finale, NBC relegated it to 9 p.m. on Friday: The Night of Low Expectations.

Things continued to go south for "Southland": NBC promised it would return to its schedule on Sept. 25 but then, ominously, delayed the restart to Oct. 23.

Finally, about two weeks before that date, the network slapped on its black armband and acknowledged that "Southland" was no more. Note to Leno: It's considered polite to send lilies.

A room without Windows

In more Warner Bros. news, the company's film division has rushed in where Microsoft feared to tread and will be the sole sponsor of Seth MacFarlane's Fox network variety special airing this Sunday.

Warner Bros. will use the half-hour live-action and animation special, still called "Family Guy Presents: Seth & Alex's Almost Live Comedy Show," to promote its new flick "Sherlock Holmes," which stars Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law and is directed by the former Mr. Madonna, a.k.a. Guy Ritchie.

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