CBS Entertainment President Kelly Kahl Explains Why Magnum P.I. Was Cancelled

Credit: Magnum P.I.

Back in 2018, it was reported that CBS was rebooting a 1980’s series, Magnum P.I., which turned Tom Selleck into an A-list star thanks to the American Crime drama. The show lasted eight seasons, With Selleck winning an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series in 1984. Plus, the series was a rating juggernaut, so it makes sense why CBS opted to bring back the show for the new generation. This time, a Latino lead was spearheading the cast, as Jay Hernandez – who notably played El Diablo in Suicide Squad – was chosen to play Thomas Magnum.

The reboot premiered on September 24, 2018, and over 8 million viewers watched Thomas, Juliet Higgins (Perdita Weeks), Orville Wright (Zachary Knighton), and the rest of the crew parade around Hawaii solving mysterious cases. However, the following week, the ratings took a nosedive, with just a little over 6 million viewers returning. Overall, the first season of Magnum P.I. had solid viewership, enough to renew the series for a second season. The ratings remained the same throughout the three other seasons, and while Magnum P.I. was never the show’s top drawing series for the network, it was far from being the lowest. But then, CBS dropped a bombshell by revealing that they had officially canceled the reboot after four seasons. With the Jay Hernandez vehicle not being the ratings and awards juggernaut that the original was in the 80s, it wasn’t too much of a surprise that Magnum P.I. got the axe. However, the lack of Emmys and solid ratings wasn’t the reasoning behind its cancellation, as CBS Entertainment President Kelly Kahl revealed that one of the most significant factors in the network opting not to renew Magnum P.I. came down to CBS and Universal not being able to come to terms with an agreement:

Credit: Magnum P.I.

“You have some tough decisions to make, and you have lots of factors – and I’m not going to rule [the licensing fee] out as one of them,” Kahl told TVLine. “It was a great team to work with and one of the tougher decisions we had to make.” Naturally, the fans weren’t too thrilled with the announcement, and some of the cast members reacted to the situation, most notably the co-writer of the series, “[It] was my dream come true rebooting it,” Lenkov tweeted in response to one fan who hopes he and Hernandez would collaborate down the road. Responding to another fan tweet that blasted the network for canceling the series, “Grateful it even happened…getting a reboot to click is hard…and this one did. Lucky for that.”

Magnum P.I. would get another two seasons in a surprising turn of events, but this time, under NBC, according to Variety. Again, fans rallied behind the show, and NBC opted to bring the reboot to their network. “It was the fans. It was incredible. I’ve never seen anything like that,” said Zachary Knighton, “To see the outpouring of love and support, especially from the community here in Hawaii, it was so unbelievable.”

Credit: Magnum P.I.

Deadline confirmed that the series was now under the scope of NBC, with 20 episodes to air over two seasons, with the possibility of more, should the show turn out to be a huge success. “Magnum’ is going to start up this month, so we’re in good company,” said Donne Dawson, state film commissioner. “I think Hawaii has proven immeasurably that we are willing and able to compete with the rest of the world.” At the moment, the plan is to premiere season five in the Spring of 2023, though no further details such as the exact date and time have been confirmed. We’ll keep you updated when the show officially reveals that vital information.

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