AMC scraps second season of Chicago-based “61st Street” – despite finished production

Cost-cutting behind move

In an unusual decision, cable network AMC announced Thursday it is permanently shelving the shot-in-Chicago drama 61st Street and its already filmed second season will not air on streaming or linear. 

As first reported by Variety, the move reportedly is a cost-cutting one announced by parent AMC Networks last month, taking write-downs up to $475 million according to paperwork filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). With the departure of CEO Christina Slade after only three months, AMC is now run by James Dolan, who also happens to be CEO of MSG, owner of the New York Knicks and New York Rangers. 

Once known for groundbreaking and buzzworthy series such as The Walking Dead, Mad Men, and Breaking Bad, AMC and other media companies have bore the burnt of cord-cutting as viewers continue to drop cable subscriptions due to high costs. Cable pentation in the United States is now at its lowest point since the mid-1990s with only two-thirds of the country hooked up as they flock to cheaper video distribution options such as Fubo, YouTubeTV, and Hulu Live TV. Recently, AMC’s networks failed to come to an agreement with Fubo, as its contract expired December 31. 

The move is unusual given the cutbacks have occurred mostly with streaming services – namely HBO Max, who recently removed numerous titles including more than 200 Looney Tunes shorts and the last three seasons of the original Flintstones. Overall, entertainment companies are now removing content in order to cut costs and save on residuals which in all reality, don’t pay very much. In addition to cord-cutting, a worsening economic outlook, a weak ad market, and lingering effects from the pandemic is also making life tough for Hollywood. 

Some projects aren’t even being finished. Last summer under new owner Discovery Communications, Warner Bros. decided not to release $90 million theatrical Batgirl and scrapped a sequel to Scoob!, a film based on the Scooby-Doo TV series, even though it was nearly completed. At the same time 61st Street was shelved, AMC also halted production on another series, Invitation To A Bonfire as the drama won’t be released at all. 

Intended to run only two seasons, 61st Street was greenlighted in 2019 by AMC in what was a different time in Hollywood. Shot on Chicago’s South Side and filmed at the Cinespace Studios on the West Side, the series stars Law & Order: Criminal Intent alum Courtney B. Vance as a Cook County public defender who defends a Black high school star athlete (Tosin Cole) who is wrongly accused of the murder of a Chicago Police officer. Premiering last April, the series lists Michael B. Jordan and Alana Mayo as executive producers and also star Aunjanue Ellis and Mark O’Brien, known for his work in CBC procedural Republic Of Doyle

“We did two (seasons), with a weeklong break in between seasons,” Vance told the Chicago Sun-Times last year. “We shot on the South Side, and I think that gives the show so much. It wasn’t easy, it was a little scary at times, but you have to honor the show. The show is a South Side show.” 61st Street is a side street on the South Side from Harlem Ave. to State St. (though not continuous with several dead-ends), but becomes a main throughfare in the Washington Park and Woodlawn neighborhoods straight to Dorchester Ave.

61st Street is one of several streaming series shot in Chicago in recent years; others include FX/Hulu’s The Bear and HBO Max’s critically-acclaimed drama South Side. Nielsen ratings for 61st’s AMC airings were not available. 

With AMC shelving the series, it is possible 61st Street could resurface on a streaming channel. But with another case of a network pulling content from a platform in order to save money, it further raises the ire of viewers who believe Hollywood and the rest of the media industry is now being run by accountants in the finance department and only make decisions on what’s best on a software spreadsheet. 


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