The short run of ‘Rebel’: Why it happened


Katey Sagal

Q: “Rebel” just started. Why has it been canceled already? — Jean Scott, via e-mail

A: Despite massive advance promotion and a strong cast led by Katey Sagal, Andy Garcia and John Corbett, the Erin Brockovich-inspired ABC show ultimately had several factors working against it. As typically is the case with cancellations, the first and foremost consideration was its ratings, which were especially telling because it had one of the strongest lead-ins possible … “Grey’s Anatomy,” from the same showrunner (Krista Vernoff). While it’s terrific when a new series can cash in on a boost from such an established program, that spotlight also makes it very apparent when it doesn’t.

Had the executive who ordered “Rebel” stayed in the same job at ABC, that might have bought the show some additional time, but that wasn’t the case. Industry veteran Karey Burke moved over to become chief of 20th Television, and since “Rebel” was inherited by her ABC successor, that left it more vulnerable — particularly from a ratings standpoint, even when factoring in post-broadcast views, which now can be a big factor in whether a show continues or not.

Olivia Holt in “Cruel Summer”

Q: Is “Cruel Summer” based on a book? — Jen Harris, Grand Junction, Colo.

A: No, despite the Freeform saga’s incorporation of many themes familiar to readers of young-adult novels. The show, starring Olivia Holt, was created by Bert V. Royal, who also wrote the Emma Stone movie “Easy A” … another project that dealt heavily in the rites of youth. There is a 2008 novel titled “Cruel Summer” by Alyson Noel, but it’s not the same story.

Q: Will there be a “Big Brother” this summer? — Amy Paul, Kansas City, Mo.

A: There will, indeed. Again with Julie Chen Moonves as host, the 23rd round of the CBS reality-competition series starts July 7, and as with last year’s edition — which started and finished later than usual because of the coronavirus pandemic — extra precautions are sure to be taken to ensure the safety of the “houseguests.” Additional safety measures likely will be in place for the crew members again as well.

“Big Brother” will air regularly on Sundays, Wednesdays and Thursdays (the latter being the eviction episodes), and extra content will be available on Paramount+. “Love Island,” another CBS summer staple, also is scheduled to return on July 7.

Q: I’m sad to see Yaya DaCosta and Torrey DeVitto leave “Chicago Med.” Did any of the show’s other original cast members leave? — Rick Jennings, via e-mail

A: Colin Donnell started the NBC drama as Dr. Connor Rhodes, and the actor left at the start of the fifth season after the character suffered a couple of personal tragedies. Rachel DiPillo also was an original co-star as Dr. Sarah Reese, who transferred to another hospital after switching her professional focus to psychiatry and clashing with Dr. Daniel Charles (Oliver Platt).

It won’t be long before you see a couple of the “Chicago Med” departees again, however. Donnell stars (as does his wife, Patti Murin) with “The Baker and the Beauty” alum Nathalie Kelley in the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries movie “To Catch a Spy” June 20, and DaCosta has the central role in next season’s new Fox series “Our Kind of People,” from executive producer Lee Daniels (“Empire”). DaCosta’s “Chicago Med” contract was up, enabling her to make that move. Additionally, DeVitto has a role lined up in an independent movie titled “Skelly.”

Q: I was sorry to read of Norman Lloyd’s passing. I so enjoyed the “Live From the Classic Film Festival” special he did for Turner Classic Movies. Will it be shown again? —  Philip Ward, Clovis, Calif.

A: In fact it will be … twice. TCM has scheduled an all-night tribute to the late actor-producer-director on June 14, and that special — in which he shared wonderful memories of his life and career with host Ben Mankiewicz — will be presented twice during the course of that salute.

The event also will encompass four of the “St. Elsewhere” regular’s films, starting with the Alfred Hitchcock-directed “Saboteur,” from which Lloyd made a hugely memorable on-camera exit. (Pro tip: Always make sure your coat sleeve is sewn on securely, particularly while you’re dangling from a national monument.)

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Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

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