"Reckless," a new television drama filmed in Charleston and airing Sunday nights on CBS, will present its sixth episode tonight. Already, bloggers, trade publications and local observers are speculating about its future.
Will it be renewed for a second season? Will it get to air all 13 episodes of its first season?
Perhaps the biggest determining factor is how it rates among the 18-49 demographic of younger viewers.
One of the best performing show on CBS is Monday night's "Under the Dome," which is getting a 2.2 rating. For comparison, "Unforgettable," which now airs in the 9 p.m. Sunday slot, just ahead of "Reckless," has a 1.0 rating.
"Reckless" premiered with a 0.6 rating and has hovered there through five episodes. It did get a bit of a boost when the network switched it to the 10 p.m. slot, but perhaps that's because some viewers of "Unforgettable" decided to stay tuned in, some surmised.
The trade publication TV Watch U.S., which predicts television success and failure, recently downgraded "Reckless" to "a Certain Cancellation."
Scott Watson, director of the city's Office of Cultural Affairs, said he wasn't holding his breath.
His office, which helps arrange city permitting for film crews, hasn't been contacted by the show's producers yet, and he is wondering whether they will be back in Charleston later this summer, he said.
The show's executive producer, Ian Sander, said he was optimistic, citing viewer growth.
"When you're trending up, the sky's the limit, and when trending down, you hope the floor is not too low," he said. "('Reckless') is the most-watched show on television in our time slot. The move to 10 p.m. was a real plus for us."
The network, he said, was supportive and encouraged by recent movement in the ratings.
Sander's company, Sander/Moses Production, has invested significantly in the show, and in Charleston, he said. "We came to Charleston because we think it's beautiful, unique" - and underexposed on television, he said. "It's got history, charm, it's hot, steamy, sexy, romantic. It's everything we want the place to be."
Sander said his company has spent more than $40 million so far, a majority in South Carolina. It cost "seven figures" to prepare a soundstage in North Charleston, built inside a 175,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in disuse. About 75,000 square feet were soundproofed and prepped to accommodate a half-dozen stage sets, he said.
Three-quarters of the people working on the show are South Carolina residents: technicians, craftsmen, production assistants and other union employees who are getting paid $25 an hour or more, he added.
With all that invested, Sander said he is "enthusiastically encouraged" about the future of his show.
But he has no illusions about what he must do, he said. It's no longer enough to develop a good idea and make a show.
"As producers, part of our job is not just to deliver the show, but to deliver the eyeballs," he said, referring to a strategy he embraced in 2005 when his show "Ghost Whisperer" premiered called a "total engagement experience."
This requires producers to design a plethora of promotional materials and provide creative marketing support, "basically getting people to see parts of the show on all different platforms."
Part of this strategy entails cast and crew members of "Reckless" tweeting furiously every Sunday night as the show airs. Facebook is exploited, video promos are posted online, blooper reels and other secondary features are produced for web viewing. And all this material is sent to bloggers and webmasters and journalists on a regular basis. No stone is left unturned.
"That's the new normal," Sander said.
Will it be enough to keep "Reckless" afloat?
Meanwhile, the Charleston-located reality show "Southern Charm," a Bravo network production that has met with mixed reviews, was renewed for another season.
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