The top 10 biggest TV blunders of the decade

Tue Dec 29, 2009 3:56am EST
 
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By James Hibberd and Nellie Andreeva

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Perhaps executives toiling in the TV industry should get a pass given all the competitive distractions dwindling their audience, from video games to social networking. And yet, some of their decisions were so memorably boneheaded that we must celebrate these milestone mishaps. Let's start with...

10. FOX CANCELING "FAMILY GUY" (AND, SURE, PERHAPS "FIREFLY" TOO)

Axed TV shows usually stay dead, yet two titles canceled by former Fox chief Sandy Grushow in 2002 refused to go quietly. One was Seth MacFarlane's "Family Guy," which was moved around the schedule and even put opposite top-rated hits "Survivor" and "Friends" before getting yanked. After the show's repeats got strong ratings on Adult Swim and netted big DVD sales, the comedy made its way back to broadcast in 2005. "Family Guy" is now Fox's second-highest-rated scripted series and has produced a successful spinoff ("The Cleveland Show"). As for "Firefly," the show lived on as a theatrical movie ("Serenity") and to this day, no TV series cancellation inspires louder fanboy wails.

9. NBC HIRING BEN SILVERMAN

If you have a great dentist, you shouldn't assume he can perform heart surgery. If your gardener is fantastic, they aren't necessarily a good hair stylist. You know where we're going with this? Silverman was a fine agent and accomplished dealmaker ("The Office," "Ugly Betty"), but NBC chief Jeff Zucker falsely assumed Silverman could therefore run NBC and fit with the network's corporate environment. Coming off a devastating writers strike, NBC needed a General Patton. It got Hulk Hogan ("American Gladiators") and KITT ("Knight Rider" remake). The executive Silverman essentially replaced, Kevin Reilly, moved on to Fox, which is having its strongest fall season in years.

8. ABC'S OVERLOAD ON "WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE"

After a surpassingly strong summer run in 1999, the U.S. version of the British quiz show exploded during the next season. Emboldened by "Millionaire's" success, which catapulted ABC to the top of the ratings, executives increased the frequency of the show's airings to four times a week, and dramatically cut development for the 2000-01 season. "Millionaire" quickly fizzled and by November 2000, ABC had dropped from first to fourth in the ratings and had gaping holes on the schedule. Recovery took years.

7. THE CASTING OF RYAN JENKINS   Continued...

 
<p>Members of the Writers Guild of America carry signs on the picket line at NBC studios in Burbank, California February 8, 2008. REUTERS/Fred Prouser</p>