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'Drop Dead Diva' creator hopeful show can survive despite cancellation

Drop Dead Diva

 "Drop Dead Diva" creator Josh Berman is ever the optimist.

Even when Lifetime left the Peachtree City-shot dramedy hanging after season four for months, Berman held out that they would renew his show. But last month, Lifetime gave it a death sentence instead.. Still, the production company Sony didn't believe it deserved to die so it began shopping the show around to other networks in hopes of keeping it alive for a fifth season.

"I believe there's a home for it," Berman said in a phone interview last week. "A lot of channels have expressed interest."

Though Berman is not actively involved in negotiations, he said Sony is "smart and aggressive. They will find a home. It could go back on Lifetime. They've given me nothing but positive feedback. I like the people over there. It's got a good audience on Lifetime. Nothing's being ruled out." (Last year, AMC axed "The Killing," then changed its mind and brought it back.)

Berman has been Tweeting to "Drop Dead Diva" acolytes, who hope they  haven't seen the last of Brooke Elliott's chipper dual character of Jane/Deb.

For those who don't follow the show, Deb is a skinny model who dies and accidentally lands back on Earth in curvy Jane's attorney body. Deb's grieving boyfriend Grayson works at the same firm. Her guardian angel Fred over the years made sure Deb/Jane and Grayson stayed apart. By season four, in the season finale cliffhanger, Jane/Deb was set to marry another man Owen, but he caught her kissing Grayson and had a heart attack. The real Jane may or may not have inserted herself into Owen's body.

"Fans really care about the characters," said Berman, noting that the show has nearly 700,000 Facebook followers despite no promotion on the TV to get people to "like" the page.

Berman said he was "completely shocked and blindsided" by the cancellation (although while I was on the set of "Drop Dead Diva" last June, there were murmurings that the show might not make it.).

He noted that ratings season four were up from season three and that the finale was 35 percent higher than the year before. The show averages more than 2 million viewers in its original airings.

Despite the uncertainty last fall, Berman continued to write scripts for season five and keep tabs on potential guest stars. They kept all the sets and wardrobe in Peachtree City, where Sony is committed to keeping the show if it lives on.

He said he hoped to have an answer relatively soon on the show's future: "We need to resolve this real quickly."

He rationalized Lifetime's hesitancy to what they saw coming down the pike in production. He acknowledged that costs of any show tends to go up over time, but he felt the generous tax credits in Georgia kept it viable financially.

If the show gets picked up by a network in the next week or two, Berman said, they should have no problem getting on air in time for a summer return.

"Drop Dead Diva" was the first major series to commit to Georgia specifically because of the tax incentives.

Lifetime currently has two higher-rated scripted hits in its pocket: "The Client List" and "Army Wives."

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