ABC cancels fan favorite `Again'

In Brief

March 29, 2002

ABC announced yesterday it has canceled the acclaimed drama Once and Again.

While it has one of the most devoted audiences on television, Once and Again never generated ratings numbers large enough to match that fan loyalty. It will end its three-year run with a series finale April 15.

Part of the problem is that the show - which stars Sela Ward and Billy Campbell as a couple dealing with the everyday obstacles of their blended family - bounced around ABC's schedule. The network shuffled it around to seven different timeslots in its three seasons, finally placing it at 10 p.m. Mondays midway through this season.

As a result of the frequent moves, Once and Again had trouble finding an audience beyond its loyal core fans. Ratings for the show have improved somewhat since it moved to Monday from Friday nights, but it still averages only about 6.5 million viewers a week.

It's the lowest-rated drama on ABC's schedule, even though it's been widely praised by critics and earned both Emmy and Golden Globe nominations (Ward has won one of each).

Still, ABC President Susan Lyne says she's "incredibly proud" of the show. "The program has passionately devoted fans who deserve a fully realized conclusion to Rick [Campbell] and Lily's [Ward] story," she says.

Creators Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz, whose My So-Called Life and Relativity were canceled without a true finale, say they're happy both for the fans' support and that ABC is allowing them a chance to give the show a proper sendoff.

"At this moment we are just proud and honored to have reached and touched as many people as we did over the course of three years," Herskovitz says. "We have always judged our efforts on the basis of the passion with which they are received, not by the size of their ratings."

Zwick adds, "We're grateful that ABC has given us the chance to create a final episode that does justice to those who have been so loyal to the series."

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