MTV airing puts 'So-Called Life' on life support

April 17, 1995|By Gail Shister | Gail Shister,Knight-Ridder News Service

The death watch continues for "My So-Called Life."

Despite a groundswell of fan support and new life on MTV, the struggling ABC coming-of-age drama is a long shot to make the fall lineup, says co-executive producer Marshall Herskovitz. The network will decide "Life's" fate by mid-May.

"I'd say it's 60-40 against us being renewed," says Mr. Herskovitz, 43. "This show has been so near death for so long in so many ways, we're used to it. We're fatalistic about it. We waited 18 months to get on the air at all. ABC ordered episodes in dribs and drabs.

"If it dies, it dies. We'll be sad. If ABC orders more episodes, we'll be ecstatic. Either way, nobody will be shocked or go into mourning."

MTV last week began running repeats of "Life," starring extraordinary newcomer Claire Danes, at 7 p.m. weekdays. All 19 episodes will air. Getting exposure for the freshman series "keeps us in the media's eye and proves, once again, there's real interest in the show," Mr. Herskovitz says.

But "ABC knows the reality," Mr. Herskovitz says. "In terms of creating an audience, it means nothing. ABC wants an over-25 audience, so it means especially nothing. Still, it's a wonderful thing."

Among adults 25 to 54, it ranks 125th among 145 shows this season, according to ABC. Among 18-to-49-year-olds, it's 116th -- 125th among men and tied for 95th among women. The good news: With teen-agers, it's 33rd.

ABC Entertainment chief Ted Harbert is playing it close to the vest on "Life." He's happy it's on MTV, he says, and the network is still getting lots of pro-"Life" mail but there's no decision yet on whether the show will return.

Letters to Mr. Harbert should be addressed to him at 2040 Avenue of the Stars, 7th floor, Century City, Calif. 90067.

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