Article from:Seattle Post-Intelligencer Article date:March 7, 2001
CBS has pulled the plug on “Bette.”
The Columbia TriStar sitcom starring Bette Midler will have its final airing tonight. Production on the show has been shut down after completing 18 episodes of a 22-episode order.
“Bette” had been set to be pre-empted for two weeks this month to make room for “Survivor” and CBS’s coverage of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, and network brass decided it didn’t make much sense to bring the low-rated comedy back after the break.
“Bette” started out with promise in October, beating ABC’s “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” in the adults 18-49 demo in its debut in the Wednesday 8 p.m. slot. But the numbers tailed off in subsequent weeks, and last week, the show drew only 7.1 million viewers and 2.9 rating.
The show, revolving around a Midler-esque character and her work and home life, went through several cast changes during its short run. Robert Hays was recently tapped to replace Robert Dunn as Midler’s husband, but his first appearance on the show on tonight’s episode also will be his last.
NBC has struck a deal with the studio that makes “Frasier” to keep the five-time Emmy-winning comedy about a pompous Seattle psychologist on the air for at least three more years.
If NBC hadn’t nailed down the agreement, there was a risk that Paramount would have shopped the comedy to another network. Series star Kelsey Grammer seemed happy to be staying put.
“I got off the phone and jumped around the room for a while” when the deal was done, Grammer said.
NBC had reportedly been paying Paramount $5 million per episode for the show. NBC West Coast President Scott Sassa said the network agreed to an increase of less than 10 percent; Paramount said it was a little more than that.
There were also reports that NBC had been reluctant to make a three-year commitment for a series in its eighth season. But Jeff Zucker, NBC entertainment president, said that “we don’t view it as a gamble at all.”
The three-year commitment was apparently very important to Grammer, who wants his series to at least match the 11-year run of “Cheers,” the comedy where his character of Dr. Frasier Crane was created. Grammer said he might even want to beat that record, “but we’re getting ahead of ourselves.”
“Frasier” is ranked a solid 15th in Nielsen Media Research‘s season-to-date ratings