"The Unit," "Earl," "Medium" get the ax

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LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Belt-tightening broadcasters continue to take hard-line stances against older, modestly performing shows.

CBS has canceled long-running military action-drama “The Unit” and veteran crime drama “Without a Trace,” and NBC is putting an end to Thursday night comedy mainstay “My Name Is Earl” and thriller “Medium.” The moves come after late-in-the-game saves for relatively new fan favorites like NBC’s “Chuck” and Fox’s “Dollhouse.”

There’s some potential silver lining -- “Medium” producer CBS TV Studios is close to setting the show on CBS, while “Earl” studio 20th TV is talking to Fox and ABC about one of the networks possibly picking up the comedy.

And hours after 20th TV-produced “The Unit” was canceled, the studio’s syndication arm, Twentieth TV, announced that the military drama starring Dennis Haysbert has been sold in syndication for a fall 2010 launch.

In the wake of NBC’s cancellation of “Medium,” CBS Studios issued a statement blasting the network about its decision and the way it was handled.

“NBC’s cancellation of ‘Medium’ is inexplicable to us,” the statement said. “The ratings don’t lie: ‘Medium’ outperforms many of NBC’s renewed shows.”

ABC in particular has been receptive to picking up rival shows, having taken “Scrubs” after NBC canceled the series last year and committing to take on “The New Adventures of Old Christine” should CBS have canceled the series (The eye network opted to renew the comedy).

Both “Earl” and “The Unit” ran four seasons; “Medium” for five; “Trace” for seven. “Earl” averaged 4.5 million viewers this season, “The Unit” pulled 9.6 million viewers, and “Medium” drew 7.2 million viewers.