*Starz announced today that it will cancel its struggling original series “Boss,” which added Sanaa Lathan and T.I. to its critically acclaimed cast in season two.
“After much deliberation, we have made the difficult decision to not proceed with Boss,” Starz said in a statement Tuesday. “We remain proud of this award-winning show, its exceptional cast and writers, and are grateful to Kelsey Grammer, [creator] Farhad Safinia and our partners at Lionsgate TV.”
Starz president Chris Albrecht picked up “Boss” straight to series, bypassing the traditional pilot stage. The latter is part of Albrecht’s larger brand-building strategy for the HBO and Showtime rival, which also includes bold bets and a focus on cinematic dramas over half-hour comedies.
The series, which earned a Golden Globe nomination for best drama and an acting win for Grammer, drew 659,000 total viewers to its original October 2011 premiere en route to 1.72 million overall over its first weekend, falling shy of recent scripted launches. Season two returned down from its freshman run with a mere 317,000 viewers, ending in October with a season high of 440,000 viewers. The Lionsgate TV drama’s sophomore season averaged 937,000 viewers when factoring in multiple premiere weekend airings, down from its first-year average of 1.1 million.
Starz is scheduled to launch at least four scripted efforts in 2013, including the final season of Spartacus, season two of Jeffrey Dean Morgan starrer Magic City, period drama Da Vinci’s Demons and limited series The White Queen with Janet McTeer. Michael Bay’s Treasure Island prequel Black Sails and big swing Marco Polo are in the works.
Grammer — who has been active as a producer this development season, selling projects to MTV and NBC — already has lined up his next gig, joining Kyra Sedgwick in the ensemble cast of feature “Reach Me.”
Update: Sources confirm to THR that Starz has had talks to wrap the series with a two-hour movie. The second season finale tied up the season-long mystery with Grammer’s Tom Kane still in full control of Chicago, and with his illness still under wraps.