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HBO bails on Lily Tomlin comedy

by Allison Waldman, posted Mar 18th 2008 11:02AM
Lily TomlinHBO has decided not to air a new Lily Tomlin comedy series, even though six episodes are in the can. 12 Miles of Bad Road, created by Designing Women writer Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, is a one-hour comedy about the Shakespeare family, a millionaire Texas clan whose real estate fortune is mixed up with their eccentric antics. Sounds vaguely like Dallas meets Arrested Development, but whatever the recipe, HBO has given it the thumbs down.

This is highly unusual, considering the high profile of the production. In January 2007, HBO ordered the series. Then in April, they showed a preview of 12 Miles after The Sopranos, presumably because they had faith in the show. Something's changed, though, because now HBO is giving it up. Perhaps the exit of Carolyn Strauss as HBO president spelled the end of 12 Miles?

Whatever, it's a blow for Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, who hasn't had a certifiable hit since the glory days of Designing Women, Hearts Afire and Evening Shade all for CBS. She stumbled with the Designing Women spin-off, Women of the House, and the lame NBC sitcom for Emeril Lagasse, Emeril (2001).

And it's a disappointment for an award-winning star like Lily, who's conquered TV, theater and film. In 12 Miles, she plays the head of the family, the Miss Ellie if you will, and second in the cast is another superb comic actress, Mary Kay Place of Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman fame. Other notables in the cast include Gary Cole (Harvey Birdman), Ivana Milicevic (Casino Royale), Leslie Jordan (Will & Grace), Katherine LaNasa (Boston Legal; she's also French Stewart's wife), David Andrews (JAG), among many others. This was not a shoestring production.

Executive producer Harry Thomason and his wife, Linda, are looking for another network to take on the series, including Lifetime.

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I've been reading the comments on Nikki Finke's blog, and people who have seen the 12 Miles of Bad Road screeners that HBO sent out to it's employees are raving about it. If the buzz is legitimate, HBO is making a monumental mistake. 12 Miles sounds like the sure fire hit that HBO desperately needs. I'm sensing two possible reasons why HBO may be passing on it: One, they want to "start over" with a new tv head who has his/her own ideas for HBO; Two, as a 35 year-old with Southern roots who grew up in the west, I can give testimony on the discrimination that my mother and I suffered at the hands of non-Southerners because we were "different". I have a feeling that the Southern flavor of 12 Miles may have turned off the more urban HBO executives.

March 18 2008 at 6:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

A group of us watched all of the episodes through a friend who worked at HBO and the show is really good! Everyone in the room loved it. I told him that they had a huge hit on their hands. He told me that the new guys who run the channel didn't get it...these guys must be deaf and blind and oh so very dumb! They cancel this but leave Tell Me That You Bore Me on? No wonder the network is going down the tubes.

March 18 2008 at 5:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

HBO must be run by the assholes you used to work at Showtime and Fox.

This is why I canceled HBO and still have Showtime (for now). HBO series are in the shiter and Showtime is starting to shine again.

March 18 2008 at 4:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ric Kaysen

HBO must have a lot of money to flush if this show made it six episodes past the pilot and was so odious that they sh*tcanned it. Reads like some programming exec will be looking for work.

March 18 2008 at 2:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jeff N.

HBO must of really dislike this show to cancel it even though they filmed 6 episodes.

March 18 2008 at 1:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Why did you run a photo of Steven Tyler with this story?

March 18 2008 at 1:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Jim's comment
The Pepto Pimp

That's exactly what I thought too!


March 18 2008 at 3:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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