Huff is on its last gasp.
Showtime has officially pulled the plug on the Emmy-winning Hank Azaria vehicle after two seasons, citing low ratings.
Network boss Robert Greenblatt said the move was tough--especially with the quirky dramedy about a psychiatrist (Azaria) going through a midlife crisis growing into a big critical sucess, garnering a Showtime-record seven Emmy nominations last year--but necessary.
"Huff was a signature show [that] brought us great critical acclaim and Emmy recognition that makes us very proud," Greenblatt, Showtime's entertainment president, said in a statement Friday.
"The decision to not do a third season was a difficult one, but there's a challenge to deliver the size audience we needed to break the show out in an environment that is very competitive and flush with original programming on all networks."
Hailing Huff as one of its "defining shows," Greenblatt says the series' first two seasons will remeain in rotation for "the next several years."
"Huffserved this network well and if I had it to do all over again, I wouldn't do anything differently," he continued.
Showtime had such high hopes for Huff that Greenblat gave the go-ahead for production on season two before the first season debuted in 2004. But despite glowing reviews for the cast headed by Azaria, whose character melts down after a 15-year-old patient commits suicide in his office, Huff never materialized into an HBO-killer.
Hoping to breathe some life into the program's anemic ratings, the pay channel launched a massive marketing campaign, including mailing out DVD screeners to some 12,000 Emmy voters. That blitz paid off, culminating in seven nominations, including Best Actor in a Drama Series for Azaria and a Best Supporting Actor nom for costar Oliver Platt. And Blythe Danner won the trophy for Best Supporting Actress trophy.
Despite the Emmy pub and subsequent media buzz, Huff still couldn't capitalize on the momentum.
Showtime execs informed Azaria & Co. of the bad news earlier this week. The series finale is scheduled for this Sunday.
When he's not headlining Huff, Azaria kept busy over the last two years starring as Sir Lancelot in the Tony-winning musical Spamalot as well as his steady gig giving voice to Moe, Chief Wiggum, Apu and dozens of other beloved characters on Fox's The Simpsons, now in its 17th season.
As for Showtime, the net plans to fill Huff's time slot with a trio of new pograms: the Irish gangster drama Brotherhood; a crime series called Dexter; and The Tudors, a series about the reign of King Henry VIII starring Jonathan Rhys Myers and Sam Neil.
On a happier note, the net is bringing back stoner comedy Weeds, starring Mary-Louise Parker, for a second season as well as new seasons of The L Word and Sleeper Cell.