Will The Economic Downturn Kill "The Sarah Silverman Program"?


More than two months after the final episode of its second season aired, Comedy Central’s The Sarah Silverman Program has yet to be renewed for a third outing. And now that MTV Networks has offered to bring it back with a 20-per cent reduced budget, producers are threatening to quit and Silverman’s saying the show can’t continue under those circumstances, The Hollywood Reporter reports.

The drastic budget cuts illustrate just how hard the shrinking ad market is hitting networks and Comedy Central’s parent company Viacom. Both ABC Studios and Twentieth Century Television asked their show runners to cut their budgets by 2%, but Viacom is asking Sarah Silverman to make more of a sacrifice.

The 20% proposed budget cut would reduce the budget for each show to $850,000 an episode, down from $1.1 million an episode for the show’s second season and way down from the cost of single-camera comedies on broadcast networks: $1.5 million-$2 million an episode.

Silverman, concerned the show won’t be the same with a smaller budget, told Comedy Central late last week that they can’t produce a third season. Now Comedy Central execs and the show’s staff are trying to find a way to keep the show on the air. A compromise that would allow the series to continue is expected today.

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