'My Name Is Earl' creator is OK with being 'thrown off the Titanic'
"My Name Is Earl" creator Greg Garcia, right, is a writer because he has a way with words.
Asked for his take on NBC's unceremonious cancellation of his single-camera comedy today, Garcia didn't miss a beat: "It’s hard to be too upset about being thrown off the Titanic."
In case the reference isn't obvious, NBC is in fourth place among networks, after a lackluster season in which it launched seven new shows and five of them failed and the other two have not broken out.
Garcia found out NBC no longer wanted his series during a phone call with Jeff Ingold, executive vice president of comedy programming -- just 30 minutes before NBC released its schedule to the media.
"They woke me up at 7:30 to let me know," Garcia said. "I e-mailed Jeff Zucker [president and chief executive of NBC Universal] on Sunday, and I never got a response. But this is show business. The writing was on the wall. When you go to bed the night before the schedule is out, and no one has spoken to you, you know what’s happening. You get somewhat frustrated with how it’s being handled, but that’s the business we work in. I’ve never fooled myself that it’s a fair or friendly business."
Garcia then had to call his cast and crew. Ethan Suplee instantly took to Twitter to complain about how NBC handled the matter.
"Just got the call that My Name Is Earl has been canceled. They sure did take their time with that decision or rather informing us of it," he wrote.
But star Jason Lee told Garcia that he would love to continue doing the show -- for another network. Garcia said that he and 20th Century Fox Television, which produces the show, will try to sell the show to Fox or ABC. Both of those networks have expressed interest in it in the past.
"There’s a lot of reasons the show would work well on another network, and I think we’d do very well with some promotion," Garcia said. "We certainly feel like we have more stories to tell. That’s why we left the show on season 4 on a cliffhanger. And I know we’ve got at least another season in us and a lot of great ideas. So if another network wants to put us on, fantastic. Nothing that would make me happier."
During a conference call with reporters today, Ben Silverman, co-chairman of NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios, said the network opted to cancel "Earl" and "Medium" because neither the fans nor the advertisers had waged a campaign to save them the way viewers and the Subway restaurant chain did for "Chuck."
"If that’s how they’re running their network, good luck to them," Garcia said." I don’t believe that for one second, but if that’s true, if that’s how they’re deciding what shows to pick up, wow."
-- Maria Elena Fernandez
Photo: From left, Marc Buckland, Jason Lee and Greg Garcia hold their Emmys for writing on a comedy series in 2006. Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times