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.
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.”