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`Jericho': The end isn't near

In response to fan protests, CBS orders new episodes of the post-apocalyptic drama.

June 08, 2007|Maria Elena Fernandez | Times Staff Writer

The fictional town of "Jericho" survived a nearby nuclear blast, and now the CBS drama, canceled just last month, will live to see another day.

After much fanfare -- intense viewer support that came in the form of letters, petitions and lots of nuts delivered to CBS headquarters -- network executives have regrouped and decided to give the Skeet Ulrich-led drama a second chance.

On Wednesday, CBS President of Entertainment Nina Tassler ordered seven episodes of the series to air in midseason, crediting the fervent cancellation protest as "creative, sustained and very thoughtful and respectful in tone."

"I'm so thankful to our fans for not only their passionate support but their tireless efforts to revive our show," Ulrich said later. "The whole cast and I are thrilled to have the opportunity to be together again and I look forward to the chance to give back to the fans with more of the story that brought us here."

If the series, which appeared to be on its way to becoming a hit in the fall and fell in the ratings after a long winter hiatus, picks up steam, the network will consider producing more episodes, Tassler wrote in a letter to the fans on its message board on www.cbs.com.

"A loyal and passionate community has clearly formed around the show," Tassler wrote. "But that community needs to grow. It needs to grow on the CBS Television Network, as well as on the many digital platforms where we make the show available. We will count on you to rally around the show, to recruit new viewers with the same grass-roots energy, intensity and volume you have displayed in recent weeks."

"Volume" in this case is a euphemism for tons -- the tons of nuts fans delivered to CBS in tribute to the show's season finale, in which Jake (Ulrich) replied "Nuts!" when New Bern's commander asked him to surrender. (In World War II, when U.S. Gen. Anthony McAuliffe was asked to surrender at the Battle of the Bulge, he replied, "Nuts!")

And what did CBS do with all those nuts? They were donated to charities, such as the Staten Island Project Homefront, which sends supplies to the military, and City Harvest in New York.

In a P.S., Tassler wrote, "Please stop sending us nuts."

Although it's common for fans of a canceled series to protest, it's extremely rare that the effort pays off with network executives changing their minds. But it happened before at CBS: In 1983, after "Cagney & Lacey" was pink-slipped, the network heard from hundreds of women, hurt that they were being deprived of the show about two female detectives. CBS brass decided to give the series another chance, and it ran until 1988, winning an Emmy as best dramatic series of the 1984-85 season.

maria.elena.fernandez@latimes.com

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