Although an NBC rep insists no official decision on FNL’s future has been made, I’m told the network has informed the show’s cast that they’re free to pursue other work after production on season 5 wraps in June. And while the news is sure to make you — and, more importantly, me — sad, this cloud is chockablock with silver linings. To wit:
* We won’t realize the show is gone for ages. While season 4 wraps tonight on DirecTV, it won’t even debut on NBC until April 30. And the fifth season? That may not hit the network until 2011. (It’ll premiere on DirecTV in the fall.)
* While there was always the possibility that the critical darling could continue for a sixth season, no one connected to the show really expected it to. In other words, though we may sniffle and sob, the cast and crew have already gotten that out of their system by now.
* For the show’s MVPs, the timing is great: Pilot season is just kicking off, so the actors are free to attach themselves to new fall shows with no availability issues. As I mentioned, production on season 5 is expected to wrap in June or July, right around the time most broadcast shows start up production. (My God, can you imagine the bidding wars that’ll ensue over the services of Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton?)
* The timing of the announcement is also great for behind-the-scenes quarterback Jason Katims and his fellow producers. Now they can call their final plays knowing that they’ll be their final plays.
Having said that, it’s still sad to think of FNL coming to an end. Eulogies anyone?