Back in January 2018, I wrote a review of Man Of The People urging Chicagoans to “tune in and enjoy the show while they can before Captain Chesapeake fires the man, in reference to the former Baltimore kids’ TV host, who appeared on a Sinclair station whom at the time was in the process of acquiring WGN owner Tribune Media at the time.
Well, the ol’ Captain never got to terminate Pat Tomasulo, but his show drowned anyway as WGN announced Tuesday it was cancelling Man Of The People after eighteen months on the air.
In a message sent out via Twitter, Tomasulo said putting together a show like Man was tough and said some elements may be retained on digital platforms (such as its YouTube page) and thanked viewers for their support.
— Pat Tomasulo (@pattomasulo) July 2, 2019
The series aired Saturday nights at 10 p.m. with a repeat Sundays at 11 p.m. The final first-run broadcast is scheduled for July 20. Tomasulo remains with WGN’s very popular morning news show, which is the most-watched in Chicago from 4 to 10 a.m.
Several issues may have played a role in the show’s linear TV demise: the pending sale of WGN parent Tribune Media to Irving, Tex.-based Nexstar, who isn’t exactly a fan of this type of fare due to its expense; the tough marketplace for weekend television programming outside of sports and Saturday Night Live as viewers typically head for Netflix, Amazon, or other streaming options; and the most obvious – ratings as Man Of The People’s numbers have been cut in half since its premiere.
Another problem is the series seemed to be in repeats every other week, which didn’t help the already low numbers.
Despite these challenges, the series was picked up for a second season – but it wasn’t sustainable. And the cancellation comes at a time when WGN is losing rights to all four Chicago sports teams it had contracts with, including the Cubs and failed to regain The CW affiliation, who skipped out on WPWR to join WCIU.
While the review of Man Of The People here was a positive one (which is actually rare for this site), others gave it mixed reviews. While many seemed to enjoy Tomasulo’s humor, others found him grating and the skits unfunny – even I have to admit some of Man Of The People’s skits didn’t work. Remember Tomasulo’s phony WWE-like feud with Chicago Tonight host Phil Ponce? (of course you do.)
Despite Man Of The People’s struggles, Tomasulo has been drawing crowds with his stand-up act with his next show July 6 in Arlington Heights and recently had a “Man Of The People” night at a minor-league baseball game in Rosemont.
So while Captain Chesapeake and the boys at Sinclair didn’t sink Man Of The People, television’s changing economics did the job instead.