NBC Gives 'Studio 60' a Chance

TelevisionEntertainmentMatthew PerryD.L. Hughley30 Rock (tv program)Saturday Night Live (tv program)

Its ratings aren't what NBC would hope, but the network has nonetheless picked up its first-year drama "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" for a full season.

"I am pleased to show our support for this outstanding and ambitious effort from executive producers Aaron Sorkin and Thomas Schlamme," NBC Entertainment chief Kevin Reilly says. "From the start, they have delivered the superb show that we wanted. The critical support has been rock-solid and there is a passionate core audience. We can't wait for what's going to come in the remainder of the season."

Although Reilly has been saying he'd be patient with his new shows virtually since he announced the network's schedule in May, the "Studio 60" pickup is still a mild surprise. Only a couple weeks ago, there were rumors that the show, a backstage look at a long-running, "Saturday Night Live"-like comedy series, was on the verge of cancellation. That talk abruptly changed in the past few days, when whispers of a possible pickup started.

The series, which stars Matthew Perry, Bradley Whitford, Amanda Peet, D.L. Hughley and Sarah Paulson, is averaging about 9.8 million viewers per week and a 4.0 rating in the key adults 18-49 demographic. Those numbers include an audience of 13 million-plus viewers for the premiere; more recently the show has been drawing in the neighborhood of 8 million people.

NBC notes, however, that "Studio 60's" ratings have ticked up in each of its last two telecasts. The series also has one of the highest concentrations of "upscale" viewers (those with incomes of $75,000 or more) of any show on television.

"Studio 60" joins "Heroes," its lead-in on Monday nights, in getting a full-season order from NBC. The network has already pulled the plug on "Kidnapped" (which is playing out its remaining episodes online) and taken "Twenty Good Years" off the schedule, and hasn't yet decided the fate of "Friday Night Lights" and "30 Rock."

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