The Coast-to-Coast Kiss of Death

By Seth Abramovitch

Aug 23, 2011


Thanks to attractive tax incentives and high-quality studio facilities, New York is now host to a record-breaking 23 primetime TV shows–everything from returning favorites like NBC’s 30 Rock and HBO’s Boardwalk Empire to new kids on the block like ABC’s Pan Am and NBC’s Smash.

NYC is also a trusty go-to if you’re looking to inject some fun and energy into an existing show that perhaps is struggling to keep things fresh. The most obvious recent example of that would be Curb Your Enthusiasm, which has transposed Larry David and the gang to the Big Apple in its 8th season, and Glee, which set its season finale there.

But neither show is switching coasts permanently–a decision that can be the kiss of death, regardless of which direction you’re going. Consider these previous failed transplants:

Ugly Betty

This NYC-based show actually shot its pilot in New York, but seasons one and two were shot on sound stages in L.A. When the show moved to New York in season three in order to take advantage of tax incentives and offer the opportunity for more location shooting, ratings immediately began to dip. The show never recovered, and was cancelled the following season.

Conan O’Brien

By now, there is no man, woman or child who doesn’t know The Ballad of Conan O’Brien. Successful, college-favorite very-late-night talk-show host is promised the ultimate post–The Tonight Show–years earlier. He brings his entire production from NYC to L.A., the network moves his predecessor to 10 p.m., and both shows prove to be ratings kryptonite. Conan is asked to move back to 12:30 a.m., and quits in a face-saving (and very lucrative) move. There’s still another stanza to come–the one where he meets his maker at the TBS Corral–but one theme is constant: L.A. and Conan are not the greatest combination.

All My Children

From 1970 to 2009, ABC’s All My Children taped in New York City. But in December of 2009, the show relocated to L.A. Ratings declined steadily, and ABC announced the show would be cancelled on April 14, 2011, after 41 years on air. The show was sold to a third party, who plan to continue it in webisode form online. It will be replaced by food-based talk show The Chew this September.

The Tyra Banks Show

The dippy America’s Next Top Model star’s talk show started in L.A. in 2005, but two years later relocated to New York, where it filmed in the same studio that once was home to Ricky Lake's chatter. The move seemed to actually help for a while–it won a 2008 Emmy (!) for “Outstanding Talk Show Informative”–but a move from syndication to The CW proved its death knell. It was cancelled in 2010, in its fifth season.

Which coast do you prefer your television filmed on?

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  • C3rn0baL Aug 26, 2011

    Umm.. I think it's more like cum hoc ergo propter hoc (correlation does not imply causation). I don't know about Conan and the other shows but Ugly Betty wasn't canceled because it moved to NY it was canceled because it sucked! Basically the cancellation wasn't a product of the move, but just like the move it was a product of major suckage! Or something like that! :D

  • vanderdecker Aug 25, 2011

    Are you actually saying that the decision to move to New York can be a "kiss of death"?

    Look up post hoc ergo propter hoc.

  • Seth_TV Aug 25, 2011

    I'm saying it can disrupt the biorhythms of an otherwise healthy show.

  • Arch_Angel88 Aug 24, 2011

    Ah, The Ballad of Conan O'Brien. It is a tale that will be passed down from generation to generation. It will be told to children as a bedtime fable, and whispered around campfires to ward off the dark. One day the history of this tale will become legend, legend will turn to myth, until the only thing that is remembered will be the story of the flaming-haired giant who was mercilessly usurped by the Hasburg-jawed beast.

  • max666max666 Aug 25, 2011

    Another awesome comment man. You rock. For me, the only late night talk show hosts I care to watch are Conan & Craig Ferguson. Craig is my favorite & in my opinion, he is the BEST!

    Kimmel & Fallon are just okay and Leno SUCKS BIG TIME!. FRAK LENO! That big chin maricn.

  • chas031 Aug 24, 2011

    Just goes to show ya, not matter if your dog wears a diamond-studded collar in Hollywood or just a 2 yr old flea collar in NYC, when they crap in the street eventually someone comes along to clean it up!!