BURBANK, CA—Showing the heart and determination that was their show's hallmark throughout its 13-week run, the stars of NBC's Stop The Presses have decided to go on with the series despite its Feb. 5 cancellation.
"I think all the pieces were in place to make this show a big hit," said Troy Drake, who played Stan "Big Sticks" Hatch, a former pro-hockey player who moves back to his hometown of Petaluma, CA, to write a sports column for The Petaluma Gazette. "It just needed more time to jell than the network was willing to give. Well, now we have all the time we need."
Though cancellation ordinarily marks the end of a series, the actors agreed there was still work to be done.
"Every show gets shelved eventually," said Drake, speaking from the show's new set in the parking lot of a local Ralphs food store. "But we couldn't bear the thought of abruptly cutting off all those storylines mid-stream. I think I speak for the entire cast when I say we all want to see if Bill and Andrea will eventually give in to the long-simmering sexual tension between them. And, next episode, Jessie's kooky parents swing by for a visit and wreak all kinds of chaos in her life. And that's pretty scary considering how chaotic Jessie's life already is."
The news of the cancellation was a shock to the cast and crew. No one, however, was more upset than Eddie Whyte, who played Lance Roberts, a cocky, hotshot account executive at The Petaluma Gazette with a weakness for the ladies. Just one week before NBC announced the cancellation, Whyte passed up a sizable part in an upcoming Rob Schneider movie to do Stop The Presses.
"When I found out [about the cancellation], I was devastated, because this was a project I truly believed in," said Whyte, rummaging through the cardboard box that is now the wardrobe department. "Our first 13 episodes really showed progress. We started coming together as an ensemble, and the writing got steadily tighter."
Despite losing their writing staff, directors, producers, camera operators, technical crew, set, props, and wardrobe, as well as a network on which to air the show, the Stop The Presses actors remain optimistic they will succeed.
"We have a remarkable cast with tremendous chemistry," said Christine Jagerveldt, who plays Dianne Clarke, the gruff, hard-nosed, secretly lonely publisher of the Gazette. "That's half the battle right there. And we were always ad-libbing and improvising, so scripts aren't a problem, either."
Added Jagerveldt: "We don't even think of ourselves as the cast of a weekly sitcom anymore: We're a family. This whole ordeal has brought us closer together than we ever imagined possible."
Drake said he was genuinely surprised when ABC, CBS, Fox, UPN, WB, HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, MTV, VH-1, Comedy Central, Lifetime, Nickelodeon, The Sci-Fi Channel, Bravo, A&E, Home Shopping Network, TV Land, The Discovery Channel, The Food Network, CNN, Oxygen, Noggin, The Cartoon Network, ESPN, and ESPN2 passed on Stop The Presses as a midseason replacement.
"I really thought Telemundo was going to bite," Drake said. "Or [local cable-access channel] 97. But if nobody wants the weekly dose of livin', learnin', and laughin' that Stop The Presses provides, that's fine by us. This is going to be a breakthrough year for Stop The Presses—mark my words. If the networks and their hundreds of syndicated affiliates don't want to be a part of it, screw 'em."
Asked why the cast plans to continue with a show that had neither viewer nor network support, Drake cited a few of his favorite moments from Stop The Presses.
"Remember the episode where tart-tongued copy editor Patti got her hand stuck in the photocopier?" Drake said. "Or the one where Bill and Andrea got stuck together in the elevator? There have been a million moments like that, and from what I've seen of this new season, there are going to be a million more."
Bloodied but unbowed, the Stop The Presses cast is certain that the show will have a long and successful run.
"We're all excited and optimistic about what lies ahead," Drake said. "Barring a rash of heavy rain showers, we just might have an Emmy-winning season on our hands."