TV STUFF: ‘Freaks and Geeks’ Geeked

So, did you really expect a show named “Freaks and Geeks” to get respect? Linda Cardellini of “Freaks and Geeks” NBC, more used to making ratings with the pretty-people types of “Friends,” made the inevitable call Tuesday, axing the acclaimed hour-long drama series about social misfits and high school (circa the early 1980s).

The show is being yanked ASAP. Starting next week, NBC will fill the show’s 8-9 p.m. Monday time slot with extra-special episodes of the “Dateline NBC” newsmag.

Praised by critics or no, the bottom line was not terribly enticing for NBC. The series, which started out in that TV desert known as Saturday night, never climbed out of the ratings cellar, watched on average by a relatively paltry 6 million viewers — a sad fact acknowledged by the series’ makers.

“Well, what can I tell you? We got killed. And we weren’t even up against anything,” creator Paul Feig writes in a post on the official “Freaks and Geeks” Web site (www.freaksandgeeks.com). “I thought we might have trouble with that ‘Satan’s School for Girls’ movie [on ABC], but we were trounced by a rerun of ‘King of Queens’ [on CBS], not to mention being beaten by ‘Satan’ and [Fox’s] ‘That 70’s Show’ (and THAT was a rerun, too).”

DreamWorks, the studio behind “Freaks and Geeks,” meanwhile, is sending a message of (false?) hope to the series’ diehard fans.

“We’re hopeful that we will find the appropriate home for the show in the very near future,” DreamWorks’ Dan McDermott says in Daily Variety.

But while networks such as Fox, the WB and MTV are mentioned in the article as “logical outlets,” none are tagged as “likely” or even “interested” outlets.

OUTTA THERE: The Fox programming chief who brought you “Action” (and then took it away when nobody watched) quit today. Doug Herzog lasted all of 14 months — just long enough to see ABC launch “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” and watch his professional life go up in flames.

LONG LIVE, SNOW MISER! Holiday TV staple “The Year Without a Santa Claus” (the 1974 Rankin-Bass special with the Snow Miser, the Heat Miser and those two fellows’ catchy little songs) is going to get the big-screen treatment courtesy Warner Bros. Today’s Hollywood Reporter says a live-action version of the puppet-animated “Santa Claus” is being targeted for a Christmas 2001 release, with Bo Welch, a production designer, tapped to make his directing debut.

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