Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman in the pilot episode of “The Killing”
AMC has decided not to pick up the six pilots pitched in March but will instead redevelop two of the projects, a science-fiction drama from Breaking Bad writer John Shiban and a racing series from Gran Torino producer Billy Gerber, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

But Variety reports the murder mystery The Killing, a critical success and a steady ratings performer, will likely be renewed for a second season.

Although there are no details on the racing series, Shiban’s The Voyage is described as a grounded look at humanity’s first contact with extraterrestrial life, centering on an ambitious scientist and her team at Jet Propulsion Laboratories.

The other projects are: The Man With the Golden Ears, from High Fidelity writer Scott Rosenberg, about a former record executive who tries to find the next music superstar; The 4th Estate, from former MTV correspondent Gideon Yago, about a journalist who, while investigating a political scandal, finds his own life turned upside down; The Wreck; and American Made.

Variety notes insiders say the decision to pass on the pilots has nothing to do with finances and everything to do with the network’s limited programming: It only airs original series on Sunday nights. AMC’s slate now boasts Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, The Killing and the upcoming Western Hell on Wheels.

by Kevin Melrose

Upfronts week — that time of year when network executives tell advertisers and the world at large what shows they’ll be airing come the new fall season, and we all start wondering which ones will fail first – is coming to an end. And while, for most people, that means they can start thinking about the future, I’d rather think about the past… and the shows that didn’t make it to a new season.

The CW
Hellcats
Poor Tom Welling. Sure, Smallville ended on a relatively high note (Well, the ratings were great), but his new gig as producer for this Bring It On-esque drama really didn’t last that long at all. I’ll admit, I haven’t seen any more of this than what’s appeared on the trailers, but still: Somewhere, the cheerleaders of America are probably in mourning for this show. Well, them and those who liked seeing Aly Michalka in a cheerleaders’ outfit on a regular basis.

Shedding for the Wedding
Pun aside, I don’t think anyone is really going to miss this “overweight couples compete to lose the most weight before their wedding” contest. I mean, if I didn’t know better, I would’ve assumed this was a 30Rock joke about how desperate reality TV had become.

CBS
Mad Love
The most interesting thing about this amazingly short-lived show (It only debuted this February) was the cast, which included Jason Biggs and Sarah Chalke. Otherwise, it was one of a number of romantic comedies about a bunch of twentysomethings, and CBS already had a much better one of those, How I Met Your Mother.

$#*! My Dad Says
I love William Shatner, but he couldn’t save this one. Also, here’s hoping that the death of this show proves that a Twitter feed isn’t enough reason for a television show to exist.

Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior
Another short-lived show that only made it from February to May, this spin-off from Criminal Minds proved, I guess, that CBS can’t have two generic crime procedural franchises at the same time. CSI, you can breathe easy for now.

The Defenders
Television, I’m glad you have finally realized that you’re better than Jim Belushi.

NBC
The Cape and The Event
On the one hand, you have to applaud NBC for courting the geek vote so strongly with these two shows. On the other hand, you have to ask why they couldn’t have tried to do so with stronger shows. The Cape was shoddy from the word go – I mean, look at that title – and pretty much a goner from the time it was announced, but The Event really deserves some kind of prize for demonstrating how quickly a show can go from buzzed-about launch with great ratings to a show that no-one is watching because they have no idea what’s going on anymore. Here’s a hint for whoever tries this kind of conspiracy thriller in future: Don’t make it so clear to the audience that you’re making it up as you go along.

Chase
With the cancellation of this, The Event and the much-earlier Undercovers, it strikes me that all of NBC’s big dramas from last year failed. That’s not just a black eye for the network, that should hopefully be reason for them to take a fresh look at what audiences really want.

Law & Order: Los Angeles
…See above. But also: You ended Law & Order after 20 years for this?!?

Outsourced and Perfect Couples
Both shows featured a good cast (and Olivia Munn, who’s now off to the new Aaron Sorkin show at HBO, and seriously, who saw that coming?), but really lazy writing that erred on the side of “Not funny at all” all too often. Which, considering they were comedies, was a problem. Maybe it’s a lesson that NBC should stick to comedies that don’t seem like they could appear on other networks (See: 30Rock, Parks & Recreation, Community, The Office) in future?

Fox
The Chicago Code and Breaking In
There’s a lot of buzz going around the Fox had enough massive successes and new shows that it was excited about that series that would’ve been hits on other networks got culled to make room. I’m not sure if that’s entirely true, but these two shows may have been victims of being too new to have built enough of an audience to stick around, and of launching midseason when not enough people were paying attention to notice they were even around.

Human Target and Lie To Me
These, meanwhile, are likely the shows that had enough of a following to have made them hits on a network like NBC or (definitely) the CW. And, at least in Human Target‘s case, I’m surprised Warner Bros. TV hasn’t at least tried to take the show to either network – Imagine it paired with Chuck or Nikita, say. I’m particularly sad to see Target go; it may not have been the greatest show on, but it was consistently enjoyable, and the cast were charismatic and suitably tongue in cheek.

The Good Guys
I’m less sad to see this go. It had a lot of potential, but never quite gelled for me. I’m surprised that it actually lasted as long as it did, to be honest – Fox seemed to stand behind the show in a way that it doesn’t for other series (Breaking In or The Chicago Code, for example).

Traffic Light and Running Wilde
Fox doesn’t have the greatest track record with half-hour live action comedies – Raising Hope? Really? – and, looking at these two shows, neither of which were particularly offensive, but also not particularly agreeable, it’s easy to see why. If only some of the mean, funny spark of shows like Glee or even American Idol of old could make it to the sitcom format…

ABC
Better With You, Brothers & Sisters, Detroit 1-8-7, Mr. Sunshine, My Generation, No Ordinary Family, Off the Map, The Whole Truth and V
Okay, ABC just culled its line-up this year. There’s no other way to look at it; the cancellation list includes new outright flops (Hi, Mr. Sunshine and My Generation!), bubble-shows (Off The Map and Better With You) and old favorites Brothers & Sisters), not to mention V, which everyone expected to have been killed off last year. It managed to do this because it’s got a good enough line-up of existing shows – Castle! Modern Family! I’ll pretty much forgive them anything for keeping those two around, and in the same slots as before – and some interesting choices of new shows (Charlie’s Angels doesn’t look too promising from what I’ve seen, but Once Upon A Time and Revenge, which is The Count of Monte Christo meets Gossip Girl, could both be breakout hits). Look at it as clearing out the deadwood… only to probably end up with the same amount of deadwood once the audience decides what they want to keep this time around.

by Graeme McMillan

While principal photography for Christopher Nolan and Warner Bros. incoming DC Comics adaptation “The Dark Knight Rises” just started yesterday, it appears the studio is already on top of promoting the next Batman movie. Today, a number of fan sites including SuperHeroHype played along with a new viral game launched along with the film’s official website at TheDarkKnightRises.com. The audio file of chanting men on the official site contained a phrase hidden in its computer coding which let fans to the Twitter account @thefirerises which in turn pointed viewers to the first official image of actor Tom Hardy as the villain Bane:

These moves fall well in line with Warners campaign for “The Dark Knight” which offered fans sneak peeks and advanced screenings for playing along with games centered on Harvey Dent’s District Attorney campaign and the Joker’s “Why So Serious?” rein of terror.

For more, check out SuperHeroHype

Artist Jeffrey Catherine Jones – an acclaimed voice in the fantasy art world and a close friend and influence to a generation of comics artists – has passed away at age 67. The news became public through a Tweet from Maria Cabardo, a documentary filmmaker working on a film about Jones’ life (found via Tom Spurgeon).

Born Jeffrey Jones 1944, the artist celebrated a long career whose highlights included a 1970s run doing cover paintings for major fantasy novels like Fritz Leiber’s “Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser” and a number of comics including “Idyl” for “National Lampoons” and “I’m Age” for “Heavy Metal.”

While the world of fantasy illustration and comics proper intersect less than one might imagine, Jones was a figure whose work in both forms left an impression on her peers. Her work was notably praised by recently deceased fantasy legend Frank Frazetta as “the greatest living painter.” Jones also shared space with a slew of legendary comics talent in the ’70s under the name The Studio – a group which included Mike Kaluta, Bernie Wrightson and Barry Windsor-Smith.

Jones is also a rare example of a transgendered artist in the genre world. Though a string of personal and financial issues saw her fall on hard times in the early 2000s, recent years had seen stable living conditions and steady production of new work from the artist.-by Kiel Phegley

There’s been a lot written about Stargate Universe and Syfy in the weeks leading up to SGU‘s recent finale, and a lot of questions and concerns directed at Syfy about how we handled the series. I wanted to take some time to address the issues that have come up and thought GateWorld, which has been a huge supporter of the entire Stargate franchise, would be a good place to do it. So thanks to them for giving me the space here, and thanks to you for taking the time to read this.

When MGM and Syfy mutually decided to bring Stargate Atlantis to an end after five seasons, they did so knowing they’d transition to a new show in the franchise, Stargate Universe. SGU was a bold new take on Stargate that Brad Wright and Robert Cooper had had in mind for a long time, and one that we’d discussed with them off and on. It first came to us as a pitch many years ago.

Because Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis had performed so well for us in the past, we felt confident about SGU and committed to a two-season deal for it, as long as the show met certain milestones along the way. Two-season deals are rare in the TV world because they tie up a huge amount of investment (both time and money), but our great track record with MGM and Stargate made this seem like as much of a sure thing as you’ll get in the TV business. That means before any footage was shot or any actors were hired, we knew there’d be 40 episodes.

The show quickly moved forward and officially launched on October 2, 2009. The debut was watched by a good if not spectacular 2,779,000 viewers. To give that some perspective, Stargate Atlantis debuted with over 4 million viewers, so SGU was more than 25% below that. On the plus side, SGU actually grew in week 2 to just about 3 million viewers before falling into the 2.6 million range where it seemed like it was going to settle. That’s a fairly typical pattern for a new series, and at this point the show was doing okay.

In week six viewers dropped to 2.3 million, or 20% off the season high. It’s not unusual for a show to fluctuate a bit, so as long as it bounced back this wouldn’t be too much of a concern. There was indeed a bit of a recovery the next week, but that was followed by another small drop. Then viewership took a further dip to 1,961,000, or 33% down from the season high. Obviously there was concern at this point, but we were headed into the hiatus and shows often see a bump after a break (contrary to popular belief).

Coming back from hiatus the show in fact grew modestly to 2,088,000 viewers and then added more viewers the next week, hitting 2,153,000. It looked like we were regaining momentum. Unfortunately things stalled there and for the next two months SGU hovered between 2,116,000 and a low of 1,708,000 viewers, below where we could sustain it. So despite the brief post-hiatus bump, after two episodes it settled in at a lower number and we ended up averaging 1,982,000 viewers for season 1.5.

With untenably low numbers and no sign of growth on Fridays where it had now lost 1/3 of its initial audience, we decided to move SGU for its second season. We’d had tremendous success on Tuesday’s with our breakout hit Warehouse 13, so we paired SGU with Caprica and moved them to Tuesdays, hoping to introduce both shows to a new audience. As you probably know by now the downward trend continued and ultimately we weren’t able to continue either series.

We moved the final 10 episodes of SGU to Monday nights where we’d just had success with a new show called Being Human, but the ratings remained flat. SGU did finish out its run with a nice spike for the finale, which is something else you also typically see with TV shows (it’s called the “terminal spike” in ratings parlance).
The erratic scheduling killed SGU:
We started the show on Fridays where we’ve had the most success and where it initially did well, and we left it there until it started struggling. When it was clear the show had fallen to unsustainable levels and would not survive on Fridays, only then did we move it to the night where our highest rated show of all time had recently aired.

The hiatus killed SGU:
As you can see from the ratings above, the biggest drop in viewers came before the hiatus, not after. In fact, SGU actually grew around 10% after the hiatus between season 1.0 and 1.5 in its first two episodes back.

If you’d left it on Friday nights, it would have done well:
When left on Friday nights SGU lost 1/3 of its audience and dropped to consistently unsustainable ratings levels. The only hope of keeping it was to move it to another night where new viewers could find it.

You canceled SGU because you hate science fiction:
If we didn’t like science fiction we simply wouldn’t have made SGU. It’s because we like science fiction that we tried it. Even though SGU was ultimately unsuccessful, we don’t regret trying it. Science fiction shows are the backbone and lifeblood of our network, and we have many in development. Later this year we’ll be debuting Alphas, the Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome pilot is being worked on as you read this, the movie Red Faction starring Stargate Universe‘s Brian Jacob Smith will air next month, 5 of our original dramas will return with new seasons or new episodes this year, and we’re working on many more behind the scenes.

You never supported SGU:
There is literally no one other than MGM who supported it more than we did. We were the only network who gave the show a try and the only ones who committed to making and airing 40 episodes before a script had been written. We invested tens of millions of dollars and thousands of hours of work over many years making and supporting the show.

You canceled SGU in order to make wrestling:
We would have happily kept making SGU regardless of anything else on our schedule if the ratings were sustainable. We don’t discontinue successful shows to make room for other shows … no network does because no network has a full roster of successful series. SGU was judged solely on its own ratings.

You don’t like Stargate:
We love Stargate. Combined we’ve made 12 seasons of 3 separate series and helped support two SG-1 films. It’s been an amazing ride and we’re incredibly proud of the cast and crew of all the shows, and thankful to all the viewers who watched.

Note: The ratings I used above are Live +7 numbers, or the total number of viewers who watched the show live and during the following 7 days via DVR. Although advertisers buy based on just the 18-49 segment of these numbers and thus the 18-49 ratings would be much smaller, I’m using L7 numbers here for convenience as they represent the total audience. The % drops and lows of the 18-49 numbers would be even more significant (i.e. worse) than what the L7s show, but not so much that it’s worth doing all the math for.

Free Comic Book Day founder Joe Field reports that this year’s event drew between 300,000 and 500,000 people to participating retailers, and generated an estimated $1.5 million in publicity for comics and comics stores. “Free Comic Book Day may have been my idea ten years ago, but seeing the remarkable things this event has done for the entire comics world is really encouraging,” he writes on his store’s blog. “Many of my comics retailer colleagues in the U.S., Canada and 40 other countries bring energy, creativity and enthusiasm to FCBD, making it a very special community event that is now the world’s largest annual comics’ event. All of this shows just how current the comics’ medium is — and how vital comic book specialty stores are to our local communities.” [Flying Colors, via The Beat]

ALPHA FLIGHT #1 (of 8) (APR110547)
ALPHA FLIGHT #1 (of 8) EAGLESHAM VARIANT (MAR118215)
Written by GREG PAK & FRED VAN LENTE
Penciled by DALE EAGLESHAM
Cover by PHIL JIMENEZ
Rated T+ …$3.99
FOC – 5/23/11. On Sale – 6/15/11