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ABC cancels ‘Nashville’; new Shonda Rhimes series in the works

Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere at a 2012 press conference for the ABC series "Nashville." |AP FILE PHOTO

LOS ANGELES — The song is over for the country music drama “Nashville” after four seasons. ABC said Thursday it’s canceling the show, along with crime romp “Castle” and puppet comedy “The Muppets.”

Producer Shonda Rhimes speaks during the “Scandal-ous!” event hosted by the Smithsonian Associates at the University of District of Columbia Theater of the Arts on April 28, 2016 in Washington, DC. |Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images
Producer Shonda Rhimes speaks during the “Scandal-ous!” event hosted by the Smithsonian Associates at the University of District of Columbia Theater of the Arts on April 28, 2016 in Washington, DC. |Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images

At the other end of the spectrum, “Scandal” producer Shonda Rhimes is collaborating with William Shakespeare on a new ABC series. The network said Thursday it’s ordered a period drama from Rhimes about the aftermath of the deaths of young lovers Romeo and Juliet. “Still Star-Crossed” will become Rhimes’ fifth series at ABC. Along with “Scandal,” her ShondaLand company produces “Grey’s Anatomy,” ”How to Get Away with Murder” and “Catch.”

More ABC goners: “Galavant,” ”Blood & Oil,” ”The Family” and “Agent Carter.” The cancellations follow a recent shakeup in the network’s executive ranks, with ABC Entertainment Group President Paul Lee replaced by Channing Dungey.

The decision to end “Nashville” drew an immediate lament from the city’s mayor, Megan Barry, who called the loss of the series filmed in her town a disappointment.

“The show has been an enormously successful promotional tool for our city, which is why the state of Tennessee and metro Nashville were prepared to support production for a fifth season,” Barry said.

“Nashville” has three episodes left to air, with the finale, titled “Maybe You’ll Appreciate Me,” set for May 25. Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere star as country music divas.

Although the ratings for “Nashville” were soft, ABC used it as the launching pad for soundtracks and TV specials.

Accordint to the Hollywood Reporter, the drama was one of the few not included in ABC’s 15-show renewal spree back in March, and also one of the network’s only dramas from an outside studio (Lionsgate). However, the country music series’ cancellation was still somewhat surprising. The series enjoyed a sizable DVR boost, up to a 1.9 rating among adults 18-49, and enjoyed ancillary profits from soundtracks and concert tours. The primetime soap was set to hit its 100th episode next season.

Two other canceled shows, “Castle” and “The Muppets,” had very different track records at ABC.

“Castle,” which debuted in 2009, was still a reliable ratings performer. It was announced last month that co-star Stana Katic was exiting, but Nathan Fillion, who plays Castle, had tweeted that he hoped the show would continue for years despite her departure.

When it came to freshman series “The Muppets,” a wealth of long-time affection for Miss Piggy and its other characters failed to translate into viewership.

Other network announcements Thursday:

— “Frequency,” CW, inspired by the 2000 Dennis Quaid-Jim Caviezel film. A police detective gets in touch with her late father via a ham radio and work together on an unsolved murder case. Riley Smith is among the stars.

— “No Tomorrow,” CW, follows a cautious woman and a freewheeling man who fall in love and decide to pursue their dreams because of a belief that the apocalypse is near. The cast includes Tori Anderson and Josh Sasse.

— “Conviction,” ABC. A lawyer and former first daughter (Hayley Atwell) takes a job with the New York district attorney’s office to avoid jail time for drugs and political damage for her mother’s Senate campaign.

— “Chicago Justice,” NBC. Producer Dick Wolf expands his Windy City-based franchise with a drama about state prosecutors and investigators. It joins “Chicago Med,” ”Chicago Fire” and “Chicago P.D.”

— “Downward Dog,” ABC. Based on the web series, the comedy looks at the life of a struggling millennial (Allison Tolman) from the perspective of her philosophical dog, Martin.

— An as-yet untitled comedy from ABC about an unapologetically plump wife and mother (Katy Mixon) whose flawed family lives in a wealthy town populated by so-called “perfect” children.

— “Time After Time,” ABC. Based on the novel and movie, with writer H.G. Wells (Freddie Stroma) traveling through time to modern Manhattan in search of Jack the Ripper.

Associated Press