So, you wanna know what NBC thinks about you? Here’s network chairman Bob Greenblatt on the cancellation of the NBC’s most-watched drama, Harry’s Law:
“Its audience skewed very old. It’s hard to monetize that.”
Yes, it’s hard to monetize you. We’re so sorry, but NBC has a hard time selling you, as a viewer over 50, to advertisers. Simply put, NBC would rather put on a show that appeals to a roomful of 20-somethings than one that is watched by a stadium-full of grownups.
I’ve always been a huge fan of Harry’s Law star Kathy Bates—she even hosted one of our first Movies for Grownups awards galas in Hollywood. Winner of an Oscar, an eight-time Emmy nominee (and just you wait—I’ll bet the voters reward her with one this year, if only to spite NBC), she’s one of the true legends of our time. Her TV character, Harriet “Harry” Korn, is cut from the classic television hero pattern: An unconventional outsider who shakes up the established order with her own quirky outlook. In this case, Harry was a burned-out patent lawyer who opened her own criminal defense practice, hiring a bunch of younger attorneys to whom she served as a mentor and/or irritation.
What I liked best about Harry’s Law was the perspective Bates’ character brought to the storylines. “If (the young lawyers) knew where they were going,” she sighs, “they wouldn’t be running as fast.”
I usually write about the movies, where in the past decade we’ve seen astonishing advances in the number and scope of great grownup films being made, despite the fact that young people will always buy the lion’s share of movie tickets. Ironically, television networks insist on running away from the grownup audience—despite the fact that older viewers have, for decades, made up most of their viewership.
Of course, Harry is not out there all alone. For the past season House, one of the most honored shows in TV history, averaged 8.69 million viewers per week. Don’t Trust the B— in Apartment 23, arguably one of the worst shows in TV history (although not quite as execrable as Two Broke Girls), averaged just 6.37 million viewers.
Guess which one got the hook?
You guessed it. For which I have one thing to say to the powers-that-be in network television: Monetize This!