Friday, February 29, 2008

Scrubs Moving To ABC, Well Maybe

Scrubs LogoThe yearly rumor of NBC not renewing Scrubs and ABC Studios bringing it home to ABC has reared its ugly head again, only this time with a twist. Instead of the show not being picked up, NBC is refusing to order additional episodes so that Scrubs can have a proper send off into syndication. Have no fear though, as The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed that “ABC is in negotiations to pick up 18 episodes of the series from ABC Studios, which has produced the comedy for NBC since 2001.” (link) This would be an additional 18 episodes on top of the 5 episodes NBC already has completed from before the WGA strike. But, this could very well be a ploy by ABC to force NBC’s hand into agreeing to produce additional episodes this season so that Scrubs can have a full season of episodes and go out with a true series finale.

The Cast of Scrubs
While shows have been known to switch networks midstream it is a pretty rare occurrence (JAG, Buffy the Vampire Slayer), especially for a show most consider to be in its final season. While NBC originally ordered an 18 episode season, the strike cut the seasons short to 12 episodes and “the network has been reluctant to order additional episodes for the fall, citing the fact that it already has some remaining originals in the can.” (link) TV Guide’s Michael Ausiello has confirmed The Hollywood Reporter’s story, stating that “the move came after negotiations between NBC and ABC studios, which produces Scrubs, broke down.” (link)

Scrubs - Cast Photo
Incidentally, if ABC were to pick up the show for an additional 18 episodes it would mean that Scrubs would be on the air for one more full season. So as not to conflict with the actors upcoming schedules, “the episodes will be shot right away and will be ready to air in the fall.” (link) Ausiello also found out that if the ABC deal were to go through the entire cast would return including star Zach Braff.

Scrubs fans shouldn’t hold their breath for an additional season. While it is possible the deal is made, I think the odds are pretty slim. More than likely the threat of the deal will compel NBC to order additional episodes for this season, allowing Scrubs to end as planned and blocking ABC from stealing the show. More news to come as details emerge!

UPDATE: Variety is now reporting that NBC is saying there is no truth to the reports of Scrubs moving to ABC. (link) NBC Entertaiment/Unversal Media Studios co-chair Marc Graboff is quoted as saying that they have “a license agreement with ABC Studios, which includes a right of first negotiation and first refusal to extend the series term beyond this season.” (link) I interpret this to mean that any deal ABC is claiming to have made would be in violation with its agreement with NBC and NBC is willing to block ABC by coming to terms with ABC Studios “to resolve the seventh – and what was believed to be the final – season of Scrubs.” (link)

The Variety article also states that before NBC would commit to purchasing additional episodes and a series finale of Scrubs the network would need assurances from ABC Studios “that Scrubs wouldn’t wind up squeezing out another season on ABC.” (link) It seems as though this issue is far from being over with creator Bill Lawrence and the cast of Scrubs squarely in the middle of a tug-of-war between ABC and NBC.
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