The cable channel CMT could be the savior that actor and comedian Tim Allen’s sidelined “Last Man Standing” sitcom needs.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Viacom-owned channel is in preliminary talks with 20th Century Fox Television, which was producing the center-right sitcom until ABC cancelled it in early May. Insiders with knowledge of the potential deal stressed that the two networks are in the very early stages of discussion because CMT is still determining if it can foot the bill for “Last Man Standing” and Allen’s lofty salary.
ABC unexpectedly cancelled the highly rated comedy series after six seasons. When it happened, Allen tweeted that he was “stunned” and “blindsided” by the decision.
Stunned and blindsided by the network I called home for the last six years. #lastmanstanding— Tim Allen (@Tim Allen)1494951291.0
It’s no surprise Allen was taken aback by ABC’s move given that “Last Man Standing,” which premiered in 2011, had been enjoying “a very respectable” viewing in its time slot — Fridays at 8 p.m., Deadline reported. The 30-minute show routinely garnered the most viewers for its time slot.
“‘Last Man Standing’ was a challenging one for me because it was a steady performer in the ratings, but once we made the decision not to continue with comedies on Fridays, that was where we landed,” Channing Dungey, president of ABC Entertainment, said during a May conference call.
In addition to ABC’s decision to move away from airing comedies on Friday evenings, the network cited Allen’s hefty salary as a reason to pull the plug on one of the only sitcoms sympathetic to a conservative worldview. In 2011, the most recent year salary data was available, Allen was earning $225,000 per “Last Man Standing” episode.
But many conservatives speculated the show might have been cancelled because of Allen’s political ideology.
Allen’s character, Mike Baxter, was a politically conservative Christian who celebrated traditional American values. He took cues from the blue-collar demographic that helped President Donald Trump win the White House in the 2016 election.
The comedian often used the show to poke fun at progressives, mocking former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s loss to Trump, the prevalence of “microaggressions” on college campuses, and those who advocate for gun control. Allen has also compared being a conservative in Hollywood to “30s Germany.”
Dungey, however, said Allen’s conservative politics did not impact the network’s decision to cancel the show.
“I wouldn't say that was the deciding factor,” she said.
In May, Fox seriously considered picking up the “Last Man Standing” series. The network tried to fit the 20th Century Fox TV program into its schedule, but ultimately decided it wouldn’t fit.