Since the news broke last week that NBC had cut back its order of American Dreams episodes from 19 to 17, we've been losing sleep over the fate of the superlative period drama. "Is this the network's precursor to canceling the show?" we wondered unhappily. Maybe, maybe not. (The Peacock just announced that, as of March 9, the show is moving from its dead-end time slot to Wednesdays at 8 pm/ET.) While there is still time to rally the troops and get them watching the three-year-old series, TV Guide Online hunted down executive producer Jonathan Prince to get his take on the situation.TV Guide Online: How are spirits on the set at this point?
Jonathan Prince: The cast and crew are determined to finish the year with the same joyful approach that we have every day. But to be honest, they're afraid more than anything else. They're worried that they may have to get a new job this summer, a new series. And frankly, it's rare to work so hard on something that you're so proud of, that makes so many people feel something and isn't just another franchise procedural. It's funny, our actors' desire to keep doing this show is greater than the their desire to be on a highly rated show. I think that speaks volumes about them. TVGO: Frankly, I'd rather watch American Dreams than anything with Law or Order in the title, too. What's coming up in the next few episodes that we won't want to miss?
Prince: First, [on March 6] Meg and Roxanne graduate, and Meg and Sam try to have a romantic relationship. [They're] this white girl and black boy in the '60s... and well, people will have to tune in to see what happens. [In subsequent episodes], Bandstand goes to Hollywood, and Roxanne and Meg meet Barbara Eden [played by Paris Hilton] on the set of I Dream of Jeannie, and Meg spends the night with a group of hippies. Third, Chris (Milo Ventimiglia) returns... and Meg discovers that he was drafted. TVGO: Let's talk musical guests.
Prince: Brian McKnight plays Stokely Carmichael... Art Alexakis of Everclear sings "I Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die Rag"... John Ondrasik of Five for Fighting does an original, "If God Made You," and John Legend sings "Uptight" as Stevie Wonder... TVGO: That's a cooler lineup than freakin' TRL. So, will you take the show to cable if NBC lowers the boom?
Prince: I can only hope that would be an option. But I'd keep making this series and air it anywhere we can — in fact, at my house. TVGO: Do you feel, in a sense, let down by viewers who rage against sex and violence on TV, then when they finally get a quality alternative, don't watch it?
Prince: Absolutely. The desire to watch "quality family programming" is one that we all hear from viewers on a daily basis. And those who loudly proclaim the need for such network programming should use their voices to make others aware that such a show already exists and that we've aired 57 episodes of an incredibly fine series. Perhaps our challenge lies in making them, and others, aware of our show. Perhaps those who complain about the need for alternatives to the sex and violence on TV, for some reason, aren't yet aware of American Dreams. TVGO: There you have it, people. It's now or never. Are you hopeful that the show will fare better on Wednesdays than it did on Sundays?
Prince: Sunday nights are a most difficult time slot — we were surrounded. Wednesday nights give us a very compatible and noble lead-out — The West Wing, and I am thrilled that NBC is pairing up these two very fine "American dramas." At the same time, as far as competition is concerned, we may be going from the frying pan into the metaphorical fire — Lost and American Idol and America's Next Top Model and even a bit of Survivor. Ah, well... TVGO: Is there anything that you haven't done to attract viewers so far that, in retrospect, you should have?
Prince: I don't know. We continue to book incredible guest stars and stunt-cast [everyone from] Paris Hilton to Tavis Smiley. I guess we might've tried to jump the shark and made our "housewife" a little more "desperate." But we never wanted to alienate our loyal viewers in the attempt to grab ratings. This season alone, we've done a wedding, a graduation, a prom, an election, a birth and a war. [Sighs] I'm exhausted.