Kelsey Grammer said Tuesday that Fox is dropping his sitcom "Back to You," calling the decision a surprise and a shame. "They have let it go," Grammer told The Associated Press. "We were told all this time we were in good shape and we were coming back."

On Friday, Grammer taped an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel's talk show promoting the series. When the veteran sitcom star ("Cheers," "Frasier") arrived home later that evening he received a call telling him that the show was canceled.

"Back to You," co-starring Patricia Heaton and set in a Pittsburgh TV station newsroom, debuted strongly last fall with nearly 9.5 million viewers. But its audience has slipped, with last week's episode drawing just under 7 million viewers.

Television watching overall is down, a trend that's been blamed in part on lingering effects of a 100-day writers strike that shut down TV production.

Fox's fall schedule is set to be announced Thursday in New York. The network declined comment on the fate of "Back to You."

Grammer said he spoke with Fox executives Peter Liguori and Kevin Reilly on Saturday and that they didn't fully explain the decision. He speculated that their interest in the show had "waned" so they were unwilling to be patient with it.

"I'm not really sure what the real reasoning is. I think they ended up with a show that was going to be a great show. It was a great show," he said.

An online petition campaign is afoot to save the show and Grammer and his wife, Camille, sent an e-mail note to friends inviting them to jump aboard. Grammer said he's "nursing a tiny hope" that CBS might pick up the show after talking with CBS CEO Leslie Moonves.

"I spoke with Les the other day and he was not completely discouraging," Grammer said, wryly.

Grammer and his wife e-mailed friends that if they wished to voice support for the show to CBS, "you won't hear us complaining."

In an interview, Grammer dismissed talk that the show, with two high-profile TV stars in him and Heaton ("Everybody Loves Raymond"), was too costly for Fox.

"That's rarely a stumbling block if they really want a show," he said. "There are ways around that. They just really didn't want it."

But, he said, this week's episode (8 p.m. EDT Wednesday) is excellent and an example of why "Back to You" deserves to continue.

"It does exactly what you want a sitcom to do. Granted, there are new trends in viewing and it's edgy to watch something with no laugh track," Grammer said. "But when the old form is firing it's the funniest form in the world."