People close to the production of Stargate SG-1 said Sci Fi Channel canceled the series on the eve of its 200th episode, which aired last Friday night, making the show the first cable scripted series to reach such a milestone.
The announcement came in sometime before cast, crew and executives gathered to celebrate the historic airing at a Saturday-evening bash held at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Vancouver, British Columbia, where the series is shot.
Spinoff series Stargate Atlantis -- which also airs Friday nights on Sci Fi and shares producers and production facilities with the older SG-1 -- was said to be unaffected by the cancellation. Atlantis is currently in its third season.
After a nine-year run -- five years on Showtime and now in its fifth year on NBC Universal’s Sci Fi -- SG-1’sratings dropped approximately 30% this summer compared with the same time period last year, according to Nielsen Media Research data.
The aging series is expensive to produce, and the U.S.-Canadian dollar exchange rate has wiped out savings related to the Vancouver production.
SG-1 was also moved into the Friday 9 p.m. slot (from 8 p.m. last year), pitting the series against sister NBC U cable network USA Network's high-performance Monk,which had been also been shifted this season (to 9 p.m. from 10 p.m.).
But feelings are running hot over the timing of the decision, just as the show was celebrating its finest hour. People close to the show complained that support was tepid and that a decision to cancel was made early on. The channel failed to vigorously promote the show this season, they added, giving the network the public excuse they needed to pull the plug.
Sci Fi did, however, issue black-velvet-lined Stargate press packets in June, and the network honored the 200th episode with a lavish evening bash at its Television Critics Association gathering in Pasadena, Calif., in mid-July, flying in the cast and producers and trucking in a 14-foot “stargate” prop from Vancouver.
There has long been industry speculation that the NBC U cable networks are being pressured to cancel aging shows produced by competing studios in favor of NBC U Television product. Sci Fi executives have vehemently denied that this is the case, pointing to ongoing partnerships with Lionsgate and other studios.
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the studio that owns and produces Stargate SG-1, recently expressed strong support for the series and the franchise (www.multichannel.com/article/CA6332083.html).
Studio executives are working to identify an alternative outlet for Stargate SG-1, people close to the production said.
Season 10 of the show is still in production. It's not yet clear if production will continue or if completed episodes will air. A Sci Fi press official did not respond to an e-mail inquiry sent over the weekend.