America’s Most Wanted‘s new lease on life at Lifetime is coming to an end. Lifetime has opted not to pick up additional episodes of John Walsh’s crime-fighting series. The cancellation was mostly a formality since the last new episode of AMW aired five and a half months ago. It drew a paltry 800,000 viewers. Lifetime is staying in business with Walsh, developing a pilot with him. According to TVGuide, which first reported on the cancellation, the new project is tentatively titled John Walsh Investigates and takes a different approach to Walsh’s ongoing crime fighting and victims’ advocacy work. Lifetime stepped in after Fox cancelled AMW as a regular series in 2011 after 24 seasons (The broadcast network still airs quarterly specials.) Lifetime picked up 24 episodes, followed by an order for another 20 episodes. AMW has helped in the capture 1,202 fugitives worldwide.
America’s Most Wanted is planning to air a segment on Gavin Smith around the middle of October. A source close to the Lifetime show says the long-running series is “talking directly with the investigators from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department who haven’t spoken in detail publicly about the case before.” Smith has not been seen since the night of May 1, when he was leaving the Oak Park, CA home of a friend in his black Mercedes. On May 9, the Sheriff’s Department changed the status of the case from a missing person’s probe to a criminal homicide investigation.
Lifetime has ordered 20 additional episodes of America’s Most Wanted. The network picked up John Walsh’s venerable crime-fighting series last fall after it was canceled by Fox. The program airs weekly on Lifetime on Fridays at 9 PM. “America’s Most Wanted has made an immediate impact on Lifetime and, more importantly, John Walsh’s courageous fight to raise much needed awareness of many overlooked crimes and bring justice to those who commit them,” said Rob Sharenow, EVP, Programming, of Lifetime Networks. Since AMW premiered on Lifetime in December, it has led to the capture of 12 people profiled on the series. Year-over-year, it improved the Friday 9-10 PM time period in January by 63% among Adults 25-54 and 35% among Women 25-54.
ABC will launch a new game show with altruistic elements, You Deserve It, on November 21 from 9-10 PM behind the performance season finale of Dancing With The Stars. Envisioned as a component of ABC’s holiday lineup, the six-episode series hosted by The Bachelor’s Chris Harrison and co-hosted by Brooke Burns features contestants who aren’t out to win money for themselves but are playing for someone else — someone they feel deserves it. The beneficiary, who is in another location under constant hidden-camera surveillance throughout the show, gets the surprise of a lifetime when family, friends, Burns and a camera crew burst in with life-changing news. You Deserve It, created by Deal Or No Deal creator Dick de Rijk and produced by Chris Coelen’s Kinetic Content, will continue in the Monday 9 PM slot, with holiday specials taking over the 8 PM hour. Also today, Lifetime announced that it will premiere the 25th season of America’s Most Wanted on Friday, December 2 at 9 PM.
Following Fox’s decision in May to cancel America’s Most Wanted as a weekly series, relegating it to quarterly specials, the venerable crime-fighting franchise has found a new home on Lifetime. The female-centered cable network has picked up John Walsh’s series, which will launch its 25th season on Lifetime later this year. While AMW appears male-oriented, industry observers pointed out that it is actually female-skewing because of its wish-fulfillment element that justice will be served. In its 24 years on Fox, AMW has played a major role in the capture of more than 1,100 fugitives in the U.S. and 30 countries, including 17 on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List, and the rescue of 61 children and missing persons. “America’s Most Wanted is a seminal program that provides a very valuable service to both viewers and law enforcement agencies,” said Lifetime’s president and general manager Nancy Dubuc said. “For more than two decades John Walsh has been leading the fight against crime and it’s an honor to partner with him on bringing back this important show.”
America’s Most Wanted host John Walsh will receive the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ Governors Award this year, the TV Academy announced today. The award, which honors an individual, company or organization that has made a substantial impact and demonstrated the extraordinary use of television, will be presented at the Creative Arts Emmys on Sept. 10. Walsh’s America’s Most Wanted has helped catch more than 1,100 fugitives and find more than 50 missing children since its debut in 1988; his son Adam was abducted and found murdered in 1981. In May, Fox said it was canceling the series after 23 seasons and instead run quarterly specials; Walsh was in talks with other News Corp arms to air the show elsewhere.
America’s Most Wanted, the longest-running program in the history of Fox, will no longer air as a regular series. Fox has canceled the show after 23 years. AMW will keep presence on the network next season via four quarterly two-hour specials. During a conference call this morning, Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly said that “economically, it didn’t make sense” to continue the show, which had not made money for a while. Additionally, “for business reasons we want to have a place for repeats,” he said. Fox has been the only network to run a schedule of all-original series, with the other Big 3 nets airing encores on Saturday. AMW is produced by Fox TV Stations, and Reilly said the show’s host and producer John Walsh is in talks with other divisions of News Corp about ways to continue it elsewhere. So far, AMW has led to the capture of 1,151 fugitives.
It didn’t take long, just a coupla hours, for Fox’s America’s Most Wanted TV show to pat itself on the back tonight for its pivotal role in helping solve the Ronni Chasen murder. The weekly series will air what it’s calling a “case update” this Saturday after profiling the murder back on a November 20th broadcast. Sounds like it coordinated the timing with the Beverly Hills Police Department. BHPD were acting on a tip from an anonymous AMW viewer when police investigators went to Harold Martin Smith’s Harvey Apartments where he shot and killed himself with what’s now known as the gun that also murdered Hollywood publicist Ronni Chasen. “I’m very proud that this loyal AMW viewer had the guts to call our hotline to help solve this case,” said AMW host John Walsh in a statement. “After 23 years on the air, it reconfirms my belief that an average person can make a difference. It’s my hope that the Chasen family will now have some answers.” AMW is produced by STF Productions. John Walsh is also executive producer, and Steve Katz is co-executive producer.