Cancellation can be a tough pill to swallow, even coming from a former teen idol who happens to be the program's creator. "Shaun Cassidy called me," says Melora Hardin, who co-starred as Barbara Arno, FBI wife and mother on USA's Cover Me: Based on the True Life of an FBI Family. "Obviously I was shocked because the show was doing so well, and we had just taken all these new publicity photos and they had just changed the main titles; so they had put all this money into it."

Citing low ratings, USA earlier this month announced that it wasn't renewing the critically acclaimed series, which chronicled the life of an FBI agent who would bring his family along with him on his undercover exploits. The final original episode will be broadcast March 4.

"My honest thoughts are that it was a good show and that the network kind of abandoned us," says Hardin, noting that Cover Me aired in three different timeslots during its 11 months on the air. "We were a hit show for them until they started moving us and then not letting the audience know where we were."

While Hardin's credits range from a starring role at age 10 on the 1977 Saturday morning adventure show Thunder (which co-starred an obedient horse) to the tart-who-gets-mauled-by-the-President in the 1997 Clint Eastwood film Absolute Power, she now plans to focus her energies on the independent CD she just recorded. "I played some of it for Shirley Jones [Cassidy's mother] — she had guest-starred on the show — and she flipped," says Hardin. "She was just so excited for me."

In the immediate future, Hardin hopes to secure a record deal for her collection of 13 songs that she describes as "contemporary pop jazz." Explains the actress-singer: "It definitely has a retro quality to it. There's certainly a theatrical element, a very whimsical element, and a very sexual element. They kind of sound like classic songs." (The CD will be available on her website, www.melora.com, in mid-March.)

And even though Cover Me's demise does hurt a bit, it couldn't be any more painful than her experience filming the "classic" 1990 dance flick, Lambada. "It was fun to do for me [except when] one of the dancers dropped me," recalls Hardin with a chuckle. "We were doing a lift and it really hurt my back. That was an outtake we definitely didn't use."