LOS ANGELES – The show will go on for "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip," despite its failure to lure viewers. NBC said Thursday it has ordered an additional nine episodes of the backstage drama from "The West Wing" creator Aaron Sorkin for a full season's worth of shows, or 22 weeks.
"I am pleased to show our support for this outstanding and ambitious effort from executive producers Aaron Sorkin and Thomas Schlamme," Kevin Reilly, NBC Entertainment president, said in a statement, citing the series' critical support and "passionate core audience."
Among the most expensive and high-profile shows for fall 2006, with a star-studded ensemble cast including Matthew Perry and Amanda Peet, glossy "Studio 60" hasn't come close to fulfilling expectations about its viewer appeal.
This week, it drew an estimated 7.7 million viewers in its 10-11 p.m. EST Monday time period. By comparison, the top competitor in that slot, "CSI: Miami" on CBS, was watched by an estimated 16.8 million viewers.
Searching for a silver ratings lining, NBC noted that the audience for "Studio 60" is among prime-time TV's highest concentrations of affluent and college-educated viewers, those in homes with incomes of $75,000 and up.
The series, set behind the scenes of a "Saturday Night Live"-like variety series, focuses both on relationships and network politics. Sorkin's acclaimed and Emmy-winning White House drama performed a similar balancing act but proved more popular.
NBC tried to protect "Studio 60" from the outset. Initially scheduled to air on Thursday, it was moved in the preseason when ABC said it was relocating its hit "Grey's Anatomy" opposite it on that night.
Other "Studio 60" cast members include Bradley Whitford, Sarah Paulson, D.L. Hughley, Nathan Corddry, Timothy Busfield and Steven Weber.