... Girlfriends has in fact been cancelled. A rep for theCW confirmed it on Black Voices today:
In an abrupt move that many are saying is an unfortunate result of the Writer's Guild Association strike, the CW Network has pulled the plug on their long-running sitcom 'Girlfriends.'
The show, created by Mara Brock Akil and executive produced by Kelsey Grammer, debuted on the UPN Network on Sept. 11, 2000.
Word came on Monday, Feb 11th, that the network intended to cancel the series without fulfilling its remaining obligation to shoot nine episodes.
The last show aired the day the announcement was made and was actually directed by Tracee Ellis Ross.
Contrary to reports online, there has been no party or celebration of this announcement. Instead, cast members were notified via telephone by Akil that the network had decided to end the show.
'Girlfriends' most recently starred Ross, Golden Brooks, Persia White and Reginald Hayes.
Actor Khalil Kain and actress Keesha Sharp were series regulars on the show.
Former Dallas Cowboy cheerleader Jill Marie Jones was the fourth 'Girlfriend,' but the actress left the series in the fall of 2006 to pursue other interests.
Her departure from the series just as it was being switched over from the defunct UPN Network to the upstart CW Network caused major controversy for the show.
Jones left the series on her own accord contrary to many online reports speculating that she had been fired.
I interviewed Akil about Jones' departure in August of 2007 and she said, "This is just one of the things that's out of my control. I don't have the control to make an actress come back to work."
There had been talks of extending an invitation to Jones to return for a series finale, but everything was preliminary according to a network source. Akil conveyed to me during our previous interview that there was an open door for Jones to return if she wished.
I spoke to 'Girlfriends' star Brooks via cell phone today about the cancellation of the show.
"It's bittersweet," she began. "The show has run its course and I feel really blessed to have been a part of a series that made television history."
The 37-year-old San Francisco native would not elaborate any further about what prompted the cancellation or any of the reports about shows plans prior to. She did concede that she feels the fans deserve a proper finale.
Brooks, who has starred in the films 'Something New' and 'Beauty Shop,' did confirm that she received a telephone call on Monday with the announcement.
With eight seasons under its belt, 'Girlfriend' is one of the longest running African-American sitcoms in the history of television.
Only 'The Cosby Show' had been on air as long.
At the 39th Annual NAACP Image Awards on Feb. 14, 'Girlfriends' is nominated for 'Outstanding Comedy Series.'
Ross, Brooks and Hayes are also up for nominations for their acting work on the sitcom.
Requests to the CW Network for comment have not been returned.
In the meantime, outraged fans are letting their voices be heard and are demanding the CW at least shoot a series finale for the show.
Contact the network executives listed below:
President of Entertainment – CW Network
Director of Current Programming – CW Network
President of CBS Paramount Network TV
'Girlfriends' executive producer Mara Brock Akil had a statement sent over to me late last evening.
"Although it's always difficult to say goodbye, I choose to focus my energy on the history that Girlfriends has made, the human stories that we told, the beautifully complex images that we projected and the blessings 172 episodes bestowed on us, both personally and professionally. I am immensely thankful to the amazingly talented cast, writers, directors, staff and crew for their endless dedication and hard work for eight seasons, to the network that always wanted us and the studio that always supported us, but mostly to the audience, especially African-American women, who took the time to tune into us every Monday night at nine to have a dialogue with us and who have been our partner in this journey. I am currently in talks with the studio and network on how to best honor and celebrate this landmark show, so please stay tuned," Akil said via e-mail through a 'Girlfriends' publicist.
CW rep Melissa Burton originally issued the following statement on behalf of the network regarding the cancellation.
"The prolonged strike has changed business conditions and our programming strategy for the balance of the 2007/08 season. To better focus its creative and financial resources, The CW will only resume production on shows that are in consideration for renewal next year. As a result, we will not order additional episodes of the long-running comedy, `Girlfriends,' which planned to conclude its 8-year run at the end of this season. This was a very difficult decision for us, and was based solely on the considerable cost to license each episode in an extremely unusual business environment.
The affection, appreciation and respect for the show's accomplishments and the talents of the artists could not be greater. 'Girlfriends' was a landmark comedy that helped anchor important nights for both The CW and UPN, and proved to be one of the most enduring and popular shows in TV history with African-American viewers.
We would like to express our heartfelt thanks for eight great seasons from creator Mara Brock Akil, stars Tracee Ellis Ross, Golden Brooks, Persia White, Jill Marie Jones, Reggie Hayes, Khalil Kain, Keesha Sharp and all the cast, crew and production who have worked on the show. We are in discussions with Mara and the cast to bring closure to the show and its fans with a retrospective special to air this season."
Happy Valentine's Day though... how sad! This is really horrible news. I mean we all knew the day was coming one day when Girlfriends wouldn't be on the air, but why like this? Why did theCW have to fuck them over? Is a series finale so much to ask for??
Here's hoping something comes together that will give Girlfriends its proper send-off...