Jay Leno Claims His First NBC Primetime Victim: Southland

Waiting for the return of NBC cop drama Southland? Well, don't hold your breath. Production has been shut down and the completed episodes canned. Why? The short answer: Jay Leno.

After seeing the first six episodes completed for the second season, the network halted production on the project because, they say, it was too dark and gritty for Friday night at 9pm. Then why not air it elsewhere? Maybe later at 10pm? Oh, right, that place on the schedule is no longer available because Jay Leno gobbled up the primetime lineup like John Travolta at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

The good-for-NBC Southland (or what passes for "critically acclaimed" on network TV these days) is produced by E.R. and The West Wing alum John Wells, did well in its original Thursday night at 10pm slot last season, where it debuted to an audience of about 10 million and won its time slot.

Wells, who has created hits for the network for years was none too pleased, as he told The Hollywood Reporter:

I'm disappointed that NBC no longer has the time periods available to support the kind of critically-acclaimed series that was for so many years, a hallmark of their success. We remain extremely proud of 'Southland' and are actively looking for another home for the series.

It was probably much more expensive to pay all those actors and writers and set designers and wardrobe people to make a decent show when you can pay Leno comparative chump change to make not-funny jokes and have people send him in headlines for free (just like the internet!).

Southland, which was set to roll out October 23, will be replaced by Dateline NBC for the foreseeable future. That's right, because news is cheap and "To Catch a Predator" is never gritty—or gripping.