After a two-month rocky run on FXX, the upstart cable network has pulled the plug on its late-night program Totally Biased With W. Kamau Bell. Its last original will air tomorrow night. FXX will continue to air repeats of the show for the rest of the week with Sunday’s best of the week “Mixtape” airing to feature new intros from Bell. Even before today’s news, Totally Biased was scheduled to go on hiatus after this week. As I pointed out in my post The Mystery Of ‘Totally Biased’s Vanishing Audience two weeks ago, the show has had a very rough sledding in its transition from FX to FXX, drawing something like 12,000 total viewers, 4,000 adults 18-49, 3,000 adults 18-34 and 0 adults 18-24 at 11 PM on nights where FXX doesn’t have originals in primetime. While a dropoff in moving to FXX, which is carried in 26 million fewer homes than flagship FX, was expected, those public access program-level numbers were puzzling as Totally Biased was a solid and pretty stable ratings performer on FX. Totally Biased performed better on Wednesdays, following original series It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia and The League, drawing an average of 110,000 total viewers, 92,000 adults 18-49 and 64,000 adults 18-34. Still, that was less than a third of the show’s audience on FX in the final leg of its first season (372,000) and half or less of Totally Biased‘s 18-49 (236,000) and 18-34 (127,000) Season 1D averages. While Totally Biased, executive produced by Chris Rock, was well received and liked by FX brass, the low ratings raised the alarm about a looming cancellation.
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
The subject of violence was raised during the morning TCA panel for the weekly FX late-night talk show Totally Biased With W. Kamau Bell, as it has been during every panel of TCA thus far. Not that there’s any violence in Bell’s show, per se. But exec producer Chris Rock has famously riffed on gun control in his own stand-up comedy act, ranting that there should be no restriction on guns, but bullets ought to cost $5,000 apiece. “The gun lobby also says people need to be able to protect their property,” Rock said, “but every mass shooting is done by guys who live with their mother. So I believe you should need to have a mortgage to buy a gun. A mortgage is a real background check. Even if you go to jail for 30 years, you’ve still got to pay your fucking mortgage.”
Rock was asked if he’d maybe like to get back into the talk show game himself. “Well, a part of me would want to do it,” he said. “I just don’t know if I could do it all the time. Michael Jordan could play one game and score 50, but he couldn’t do it the next night. I just don’t care about Lindsay Lohan. Maybe if this show is successful, I can be like Barbara Walters on The View and just step up and be funny and then leave.” And if Rock were to do his own scripted comedy series, he would want the same do-everything-yourself model that Louis C.K. has at FX. “I’d want nothing less than that,” he said.
FX has now extended both of its late-night comedy series. After ordering seven more episodes of Russell Brand‘s Brand X in July, the cable network has now done the same with Totally Biased With W. Kamau Bell. The show, executive produced by Chris Rock, will wrap its six-episode first cycle Thursday at 11 PM. The second cycle will begin October 11 in a new 11:30 PM time period, following the return of the revamped BrandX With Russell Brand that night at 11 PM. “What we’ve seen through five shows only reinforces our belief that Kamau is one of the sharpest, smartest and funniest young comedians in the business,” said FX EVP Nick Grad. “He brings an interesting perspective to late-night TV and has proven to be very comfortable in this format.”