Fox cancels "MadTV" after 14 seasons

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Fox has canceled late-night sketch comedy veteran “MadTV,” one of its longest-running shows.

The Saturday-night mainstay’s current 14th season will be its last on the network, Fox sources said. However, the show’s co-creator, David Salzman, said he plans to shop “MadTV” to cable networks and other outlets.

“There’s a long list of parties that have called us, including a few very recently, and we’re going to start conversations with them very shortly,” Salzman said.

Fox told Salzman the show had become too expensive considering its time period and ratings. Unlike dramas and comedies that suffer the broadcast ax, however, Salzman believes his show’s budget can be scaled back to suit a cable network.

“I think we can change it without it really being noticeable,” he said. “We’ve learned over the years how to do things on an efficient basis.”

Salzman called his show “the only success in the 21-year history of Fox’s late night,” and he gave credit to the network for giving him enough notice to look for another distributor without interrupting production.

In one respect, the timing of the cancellation is fortuitous -- the show’s licensing deal with Comedy Central, which airs the show’s first 11 seasons in repeats, is set to expire at year’s end. Salzman can offer buyers the exclusive rights to air the show’s library of content if they pick up the show, or sell the show and its library separately.

Salzman also praised competitor “Saturday Night Live,” calling the show “the greatest of its type of all time.” Still, Salzman noted his show -- which embraces a hip-hop sensibility compared to the NBC program’s 1970s rock ‘n’ roll roots -- has faced an uphill battle for attention.

“SNL” is a heavily promoted and a legendary member of the NBC family. On Fox, “MadTV” has been like a distant cousin of the network’s other programing, a holdover from the network’s mid-1990s brand that, somehow, kept managing to draw an audience and survive despite several management turnovers. Notable cast alumni include Artie Lange, Orlando Jones and Nicole Sullivan.

“MadTV” is averaging a 2.6 million viewers this season, while “SNL” pulled 9.8 million during its first six episodes. Of Fox’s programing, only “The Simpsons,” “Cops” and “America’s Most Wanted” have been on the network longer. The show’s final Fox episode -- No. 326 -- is scheduled to air in May.

“We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished, we’re appreciative of what Fox has done and we don’t think it should be over yet,” Salzman said.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter