I recently saw an interview with Dick Wolf, creator of Law & Order. He said that at the end of the third season, NBC president Warren Littlefield gave him a cancellation notice a year early (meaning the show would be canceled after the fourth season ended). Wolf asked why, and Littlefield explained that the show didn’t have to be canceled: if Wolf added women to the cast, it wouldn’t be. According to Wolf, Littlefield said no women were watching the show, and he felt adding S. Epatha Merkerson’s character would bring them in.
Okay. Keep in mind this same interview referred to Chris Noth as taking a “sabbatical” from the show, when in fact he was fired. Redressing history much?
Let’s examine why I find this story unlikely. First, I was working in film shortly after all this happened. It was a bit of a joke, how much of a “women’s show” Law & Order was. If there were male viewers, I never met one. Second, I never heard of any situation in which NBC or any other network actively sought female viewers instead of male. Third, Chris Noth was fired under the protests of a large female fan base who considered him the hottest thing in pants. Reason? They thought Benjamin Bratt would be more attractive to Generation X women (like me), with his character cheating on his wife and getting a divorce. Don’t ask me the logic there.