New York Daily News - http://www.nydailynews.com
'American Dreams'might die soon
By GAIL SHISTER
Tuesday, February 8th, 2005
It's nightmare time at "American Dreams."
NBC last week cut back its season order of the family drama from 19 episodes to 17. Moreover, the network has shelved "Dreams" for the February sweeps. It won't return until March.
"It's very clear we're on the bubble," said Tom Verica, who plays patriarch Jack Pryor on "Dreams." "It's really demoralizing. The gypsy life we lead as actors, things happen quickly. Unfortunately, they're usually out of our control. I'm very proud of this show. There's got to be room for a quality family drama."
The critics - and NBC boss Jeff Zucker - love "Dreams," which is set in the turbulent '60's against the backdrop of Dick Clark's "American Bandstand." But it's getting clobbered by CBS' "Cold Case" and ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" in the 8 p.m. Sunday time slot.
In its third season, "Dreams" is averaging 7.5 million viewers, down from almost 10 million in 2002-03 and 8.8 million last season.
To offset "Dreams"' hefty price tag (estimated at more than $1.7 million per episode), executive producer Jonathan Prince has peppered the show with product placements from big-time sponsors.
Still, odds are slim that "Dreams" will make NBC's fall cut.
Last week was brutal on the cast, Verica said, because the end of production was suddenly moved up more than two weeks, to Friday.
NBC won't decide until May whether the 17th episode was the season finale or the series' swan song.
That episode "was originally designed to be a cliffhanger," said Verica. "It would be a tremendous disappointment if this is how the show ends."
A 20-year veteran of TV, Verica is no stranger to disappointment. With a quality show, however, the prospect of cancellation still stings.
"I've gotten better at this," he said. "My business head says, 'Business is business.' My skin has gotten a little thicker. On a personal level, this is a quality show and we have some pretty high-profile supporters."