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'Medium' folks have large chip on their shoulders

Patricia Arquette, left, executive producer Glenn Gordon Caron and Jake Weber address members of the Television Critics Association.
Patricia Arquette, left, executive producer Glenn Gordon Caron and Jake Weber address members of the Television Critics Association.
Sonja Flemming, CBS

PASADENA, CALIF. — The folks at "Medium" aren't bitter about their experience at NBC.

Yeah, not much.

"I just wanted to take a moment and sort of note the obvious, which is that we're here at CBS now, and we're thrilled to be here," said creator/executive producer Glenn Gordon Caron. "And it's been a while coming."

After five seasons of feeling neglected — even abused — by NBC, the show has moved to a network that has a reason to care about the show. "Medium" is a product of CBS Productions (as it always has been).

According to Caron, five years ago when the pilot had been produced at CBS Productions for NBC, various CBS network executives expressed the thought that "Medium" would fit well on their network. "We've had this sort of casual conversation for years about — wouldn't it be wonderful to be at CBS? When the negotiations with NBC for renewal went south, CBS stepped into the breach. But it's a possibility that's always been out there."

Not that it was quite that easy. NBC executives dithered for months, neither dropping "Medium" nor picking it up. And CBS sort of hovered in the background doing the same.

"I'd been told unofficially we were getting picked up (by NBC)," said Patricia Arquette, who stars as Allison, the medium who receives visions from the dead. "I was about to buy a house. Then I got told we got dropped, I was unemployed. And then I got a job. It was like, 'You're hired, you're fired, you're hired.' "

"One of my friends ... sent me an e-mail saying, 'The pickup of "Medium" is one of my favorite soap operas on television right now,' " said Jake Weber, who plays Allison's husband, Joe.

Caron did his best to sound grateful to NBC. "Well, truthfully, we occupy a really, really, really small part of the agenda that is NBC and all of the network and the cable companies and all of the other things. ... I mean, again, we had five good years with NBC. Had we not, we wouldn't be here today.

But it obviously wasn't easy. Even when Caron was expressing gratitude that "Medium" will air on Fridays at 8 p.m. — after "Ghost Whisperer" — this fall, he took a shot at NBC.

"I think 'Ghost Whisperer' is clearly a show that people really like. And frankly, given our history, it's nice to follow a show that people really like," he said.

Caron kept saying he had no hard feelings toward NBC, but he missed no opportunity to deliver digs against that network:

"You know, the last time we came (to the Television Critics Association press tour), NBC made us walk here," he said.

"CBS has run more promos than NBC in the whole five years, but I say that with love in my heart."

"I think there were times along the way when everyone, even people inside NBC, thought, 'Gee, maybe if we gave that show a little more attention — if we publicized it a little more vigorously — it might actually do better for us and might bring more viewers to the network.' "

"For the first time in three years, we're going to do 22 episodes. We're beginning a season, knowing when we're premiering."

("Medium" produced 16 and 19 episodes in the past two seasons, premiering in January and February. This fall, it's scheduled to premiere on Sept. 25.)

Yeah, he's not a bit bitter.

BUZZ IS BIG: What makes NBC's cancellation of "Medium" so odd is that the network renewed "Chuck" — a show that had fewer viewers across the board, including the advertiser-friendly younger demographics.

Referencing the tie-in with Subway that helped keep "Chuck," Caron said, "We had a whole Quiznos thing set up. But we didn't realize we needed to sort of put it into action."

On a more serious note, "I think sometimes people make a mistake and think we are in the buzz business," Caron said. "We're not in the buzz business. We are in the broadcasting business."

And, he said, NBC executives are missing the forest for the trees — they're unduly concerned about how many people are on Twitter following a show, for example.

"I'm not casting aspersions. ... 'Chuck is a really, really good show that NBC has attempted to launch twice and only really been able to bring a certain (number) of people to," Caron said. "Now, those people have created a tremendous amount of buzz about that show, but that hasn't translated into people actually watching the show. So, at the end of the day, you have to say, 'OK. Very effective buzz.' But what does that say about the worthiness of the show on the schedule?

"I don't know quite how to quantify the buzz. Clearly, we didn't create as much buzz as 'Chuck,' but we did attract more viewers."

Honestly, "Chuck" is more to my personal taste than "Medium." But, again, "Medium" did better in the ratings by every possible measure than "Chuck."

NBC dropped "Medium" and renewed "Chuck."

There's a reason NBC is in last place.

e-mail: pierce@desnews.com