MSNBC announced on Tuesday that it was canceling Up Late, the Friday evening interview show hosted by Alec Baldwin, after only a handful of episodes. The Emmy-winning actor had come under fire recently for reportedly using a homophobic slur when a photographer confronted him outside his home. Baldwin allegedly called him a "cocksucking fag," which didn't go over too well with the liberal network.
But even before the run-in with the paparazzo, the program’s ratings had been declining. His last show averaged just 395,000 viewers, down 40 percent from the premiere.
Baldwin can take heart, however, that he’s not the only person to lose his hosting gig almost as quickly as he got it. He’s joining an exclusive club that includes a Los Angeles Laker and a former governor of New York.
1. Rob Ford, the mayor of Toronto and admitted crack smoker
It’s been an exciting few weeks for Rob Ford, who has admitted to smoking crack, knocked over a female City Council member, and used some extremely graphic language to deny that he propositioned a member of his staff. But his improprieties aren’t the reason why Sun News, a conservative cable news channel in Canada, booted Ford and his brother off the air after one episode of Ford Nation. The problem? It took five hours to tape and eight hours to edit just one show, which made it extremely expensive.
2. Kathleen Parker, syndicated columnist
One half of the Parker Spitzer duo on CNN, Kathleen Parker lasted all of four months before she was pushed off the show. Rumors of tension with her co-star, Eliot Spitzer, and low ratings plagued the show from the beginning. The network ousted the Pulitzer winner in February 2011, rebranded the program In the Arena, and kept Spitzer on as the sole host.
3. Eliot Spitzer, former New York governor and prostitution scandal survivor
Not long after CNN dumped Parker, the network decided to get rid of Spitzer, too. In The Arena was never able to compete with other programs in the hotly contested 8 p.m. time slot. The show averaged 545,000 viewers, with only 168,000 of them in the coveted 25-to-54-year-old demographic. Compared with Fox’s Bill O’Reilly, who pulled in 2.8 million viewers, and MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell, who averaged 946,000 viewers, Spitzer just wasn't cutting it.
4. Magic Johnson, NBA legend and Dream Teamer
Most people may not even realize this, but Magic Johnson in 1998 had a short-lived television program called The Magic Hour. The late-night talk show, which was on the air for less than two months, was widely panned as critics mocked Johnson for his mumbling and lack of polish in interviews. The Hollywood Reporter said the show was “absent the spark of spontaneity and sharp conversation.” Johnson took the failure in stride, noting that he has had plenty of other successes throughout his career — including winning five NBA championships.
5. Ann Curry, former Today anchor
Ann Curry had been at the Today show for years (and had been passed over once before) by the time network executives gave her a shot at the anchor chair. But six months into her new role, NBC decided that she needed to go in order to keep co-host Matt Lauer happy. (Lauer reportedly didn’t like working with her, and the pair didn't exactly have good chemistry.) According to then–New York Times media reporter Brian Stelter, producers agreed to fire Curry as a condition of Lauer renewing his contract. Curry left the show with a tearful goodbye that left both Lauer and the network looking like the bad guys.
6. John McEnroe, tennis star and trash-talker
John McEnroe’s doomed CNBC prime-time talk show debuted in July 2004, and was pulled from the airwaves by the end of the year. The program, which averaged just 75,000 viewers a night, was slammed by critics as amateurish and stiff. McEnroe did everything to get viewers to tune in, including discussing politics, showcasing animals, and conducting man-on-the-street interviews. But as it turned out, McEnroe couldn’t translate his verve on the tennis court into talk show success.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Republicans love this new health care plan. Too bad it's basically a tax cut for the rich.
- Is it now OK to have sex with animals?
- In Ferguson, Michael Brown lost his life — and America's police lost the benefit of the doubt
- In defense of Gwyneth Paltrow
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 17 old proverbs we should use more often
- Chuck Hagel wasn't the problem. It's America's addiction to endless war.
- Adam Sandler's 'Thanksgiving Song': Explaining the 22-year-old tune's pop-culture references
- 13 vegetarian dishes for Thanksgiving
Subscribe to the Week