La Femme Nikita Maybe Not Canceled...Yet
E! Online (19 May 2000)
The E! online poll for the show that most fans wanted to save was USA Network's La Femme Nikita, and E's "Watch with Wanda" section reported the following:
After seeing the overwhelming response to this week's save-one-show poll, I'm convinced that any presidential candidate would be a shoo-in this November if he included the issue in his platform.
Note to Al Gore: Forget the Futurama gig (mingling with robots really doesn't help your robotlike image, anyway) and start pushing La Femme Nikita.
The show's fans kick serious ass when it comes to voting. That's right, USA's sexy spy series won the most votes--by a landslide--for "The One Show to Save," which proves the tiny network's fans pack quite a punch. They're also speedy.
Only a few hours after Monday's announcement that it might be le fin for La Femme, I was bombarded with votes for the show, and two campaigns to save Nikita were up and running at www.usanetwork.com and www.nikita.com.
Talk about fast! Now, here's some news to light an even bigger fire under Femme fans. Despite the gossip, a USA rep tells me the show has not officially been canceled--at least not yet. The net claims it wants to pick up the show for next season, but the studio won't do it without a new contract. Apparently, negotiations have stalled. Translation: No more talks means no more Nik. So, unless you all plead your case loud and clear (and you're doing well so far), the network won't be motivated to bring your bad-ass girl back. The best place to fire off those emails is firstname.lastname@example.org. I know you will.
Beth Danesco, n-Zone Magazine (23 May 2000)
Fans of USA Network's La Femme Nikita Rally to Save Their Show
In the vernacular of the super secret 'Section One' (the government spy group featured in USA network cult hit LA FEMME NIKITA), to "cancel" someone is to assassinate him. Think, then, how fans of LA FEMME NIKITA must have felt when they learned their favorite program was being assassinated at the end of the season by USA Broadcasting and producing company Warner Brothers. In the spirit of their indefatigable and spirited heroine, there was, of course, only one thing to do:
Vive La Resistance! For those of you haven't tuned in, the four-year-old one- hour action drama LA FEMME NIKITA, which airs late Sundays on USA, stars Australian actress Petra Wilson as a framed criminal who's forced into a deal with the devil (or in this case, the government). The terms? She either works as their top assassin/spy or she gets, that's right, cancelled. And there's no chance of anyone coming looking for her, either, since the aforementioned Section One faked her death to cover their tracks. As for escape, well, they're pretty persistent, this Section One, and plus, there's this little matter of Nikita being in love with her mentor spy, Michael (Roy Dupuis) Being extorted into the black ops biz apparently isn't without its perks.
If the story of NIKITA sounds familiar, it may be because you've seen one of the two NIKITA feature films. The first, or rather, the original, was written and directed in 1990 by Frenchman Luc Besson (THE MESSENGER) and starred Anne Parillaurd in the title role. The American version of Besson's story was 1993's POINT OF NO RETURN, with Bridget Fonda as the Nikita character (she had a different name). TV's NIKITA uses Besson's NIKITA as a launching pad but, as a series, diverses quite a bit into its own universe.
"The show has action, government coverups, sex," says Babs, a loyal fan who wrote in to defend it, "It makes my week to see this amazing show."
Besides Nikita and the crafty Michael, Section One is inhabited by other shady characters.
"The supporting cast is the best on TV," raves Babs.
The grave and somber Madeleine (Alberta Watson) is described at USA's Nikita homepage as the "strategist" most in charge of making sure everyone stays psychological focused. From the few episodes I saw two seasons ago, this job description seemed to mean Madeleine was in charge of telling Michael not to go with his feelings for Nikita. This despite the distinct impression I got that there was a little funny business going on with her and Operations (Eugene Robert Glazer). Operations is the guy in charge of the whole thing. Think of him as likewise code-named 'Control' the EQUALIZER, minus the soul predilection for waxing nostalgic over sherry by the fire. Throw in Walter, who's kind of a James Bondian 'Q' character (and whose portrayor Don Francks, bears a striking resemblance to WEST WING's John Spencer) and young Birkoff (Matthew Ferguson), perhaps the most annoying computer geek in recent memory, and you get the picture of what Nikita has to deal. Or had to deal with. Before she got cancelled.
According to Tara, a NIKITA crusader who mass-emailed entertainment writers hoping to get press for saving the show, it's infighting between USA and WB caused the show to get canned.
"Reasons have not been offered but seem to stem from disagreements between WB and USA. The ratings have been solid as always. The fans are shocked and puzzled."
While this infighting is a plausible scenario in the age of inter-network dealings, an age which had Disney yanking ABC from Time Warner several weeks ago, this particular case hasn't been verified. Also, since ratings numbers, often the most important factor in renewals, were hard to find, it's difficult to tell what role they may or may not have actually played in NIKITA's demise. USA may look at "solid" ratings differently than the devoted fan: NIKITA does not appear regularly in the Neilsen's top 15 list for cable programs and USA no doubt realizes the show faces stiff competition in its 10PM Sunday slot, where it goes up against big network movies, the Emmy winning, top twenty place-holder THE PRACTICE, as well as that nasty little hobgobblin of the television universe- The WWF.
But whatever the actual reason for the show getting 86-ed might be, the fans of NIKITA seem more interested in getting the show's death sentence overturned than in arguing about causation.
"NIKITA has a true, hard-core devoted and DIVERSE audience with tremendous purchasing power," writes Tara, "WE WANT IT BACK."
In pursuit of this goal, and following in the footsteps of the fans of near-death shows before them, Tara says NIKITA followers are using the net and the good 'ol U.S. Mail to change the decision handed down from USA. Besides asking press for support with mass emailing, Tara said the fans' plan involves a language any network can understand. "..If money is the problem, then LFN fans have decided to each send a dollar bill (real money) to the WB (either to Peter Roth or Barry Meyers) and to USA (Stephen Chao)," writes Tara.
An anonymous writer from Angelfire.com, a webpage set-up outfit which hosts a lot of TV fan sites, also noted viewers of the show were sending sunglasses to the powers-that-be. Shades are one of Nikita's trademark bits of apparel. If you're thinking this could be as big a deal as the ROSWELL "tabasco sauce send-in" which brought 3000 bottles of tobasco sauce to the desks of WB execs, Angelfire's nameless writer says to expect even more. "LFN viewers are rallying everywhere, and we are far more numerous than the infamous Tabasco sending ROSWELL fans."
While ROSWELL's renewal probably had more to do with its success in a new time slot than a fan crusade, this has been a year for fan send-in stunts. Besides ROSWELL and NIKITA, fans of the ultimately doomed PRETENDER tried a PEZ send-in, which didn't exactly work. The show was cancelled last week.
But Tara has higher hopes for NIKITA: "..results should be seen soon. NIKITA has a huge worldwide following."
Babs sounded optimistic too.
"Ill miss it if it does go, but we are trying to maybe change their minds....it isn't a done deal according to some of the sources, so who knows?
Farewell, Nikita, This Bond's For You
Dusty Saunders, Denver Rocky Mountain News (28 May 2000)
Gene Amole, my longtime pal and Denver Rocky Mountain News companion, has seen it all when it comes to electronic media changes. He's watched numerous sales of local radio stations (including his own KVOD) and lived through management changes at several TV channels where he's worked.
Geno has taken most of this in stride. But last week I mentioned a development that dropped his jaw and put a frown on his brow: the USA cable network had canceled La Femme Nikita, its stylish Sunday action/adventure series.
"What?" was Amole's first response. "Why?" was his second.
La Femme Nikita has become Amole's favorite television escapism. In fact he introduced me to the series shortly after it was launched in August 1996. Since then we've become unofficial presidents of the local fan club of series' star Peta Wilson, an alluring Australian actress who plays the lead role with acting ability, athleticism and sensuality.
I spent some time with Wilson at a Hollywood dinner party a couple of summers ago. Upon returning to Denver, I filled Amole in on Wilson's personality and sex appeal, as evident in person as it is on the tube. Amole, who's met his share of show biz types during his far-ranging career, was impressed. The Geno-Peta bond has remained strong.
Nikita is based loosely on a 1991 French movie which starred Anne Parillaud as a hedonist coerced into becoming a trained killer. Next came the Hollywood version, Point of No Return, starring Bridget Fonda. But Joel Surnow, the series' original executive producer, wisely made Nikita palatable for weekly television. She became more of a heroine than a killer with emotional problems. We learned early on that TV's Nikita was forced into Section One, the secret, often-violent espionage agency, as an elite operator after she was mistakenly accused of being a cop killer and wasd forced, by circumstances, to live outside the law. In effect, Nikita has been leading a double life, trying to survive within the cold-blooded organization while looking for an escape route.
This is definitely adult television because of the occasional violence and sexual situations. But such sequences are never cheaply produced and the focus of the series remains on intriguing story lines which provide believable suspend.
Amole's "what?" response was a result of disbelief. And I couldn't answer "why?" The announcement came two weeks ago from a USA cable spokesman who said a replacement series will be chosen to fill the 8 p.m. Sunday time period of La Femme Nikita, which will air through mid-August. A recent check of cable ratings indicates the series' viewership is still high -- by cable standards. And neither Wilson nor other actors have been holding salary guns against the heads of the network or the production company, Warner Bros. Television. While no specific cancellation reason was announced, several industry sources reported USA cable simply decided to end the adventures of Peta and her crew.
La Femme Nikita became cable's first breakout adventure series after it was nurtured by former USA President Rod Perth and former chairman Kay Koplovitz. Obviously the new network leadership is going in a different direction. In a season that has seen failed "save-our-series" campaigns for Sport Night, Freaks & Geeks, Now and Again and Early Edition, it's doubtful similar efforts will change the mind of USA cable. Still, several organized groups are trying, including a London-based fan club which reportedly has created a Web site (although I've been unable to find it).
Maybe I can get Peta Wilson to call Amole and encourage him to take part in the campaign. I suspect Geno could be persuaded to join forces with Peta. He might even be willing to start wearing the black outfits so prevalent on the show.
Fans Fight for Nikita
ZEntertainment (June 2000)
The fans of USA Network's cancelled series LA FEMME NIKITA continue to rally, with some fans going as far as sending in their TVs and VCRs to the network and supplier WB. USA Networks president Stephen Chao on the cancellation: "...We believe fans of the show deserve to know why at the moment, LA FEMME NIKITA is not coming back next season. Your devotion to the show is and has always been very important to us and therefore you should know that USA did seek to continue production of this show, but we were unable to conclude a new agreement with the supplier of the show, WARNER BROTHERS.
As a result, WARNER BROTHERS has declined to continue producing the show. Claims by WARNER BROTHERS spokespeople that as distributors, they cannot do anything about this loss, are as misleading as their claims that we canceled the show. We know how much you like it, how much we like it, and accordingly, it just doesn't make sense for us to cancel it if there was an appropriate way to continue with it. Our four-year contract with WARNER BROTHERS has expired and in spite of our efforts to extend our contract and even expand the LA FEMME NIKITA franchise into event movies of the week, WARNER BROTHERS has declined to continue. Our proposals are still on the table.
You've convinced us not to walk away so easily. Now, if you want to try and make a difference, convince WB that you know the real story, that the fate of LA FEMME NIKITA could be in their hands."
A WARNER BROS. letter sent to fans reads: "...We are extremely proud of our show and love it just as much as all of our loyal viewers. Unfortunately, we are only the distribution outlet, therefore we are unable to control USA Network's decision to cancel LA FEMME NIKITA..."
NIKITA's final season is now airing Sunday nights, through August 27th.
...Bad Moves...by TV's Executive Suits
Jeff Simon, Buffalo News (2 July 2000)
It Ain't the Peta, It's the Cupidity. Join the Internet rage if you've half a mind to. The USA Network, in its vast non-wisdom, finally decided to yank from the airwaves the hippest, coolest and toughest weekly critique of corporate values in the downsizing era. I'm referring, of course, to "La Femme Nikita," which to many is just stilt-legged, stupefying beauty Peta Wilson and her crew of nerds, male models and smirking Canadian stage actors doing a lot of very paranoid spy stuff.
Well, they can cherish the show they watch, I'll cherish the one I watch. (Not for long, though. Comes fall, it will be gone.) On a weekly basis, "La Femme Nikita" has more to say about maintaining human values amid corporate confusion, corrosion and conspiracy than any show on the air. That all this takes place in a wigged-out spy nest called only "section," doesn't alter the basic gist of most "Nikitas."
Let's put it this way: when "Mission Impossible" -- featuring equally improbable and unidentified government spies at work -- was on the air, the villains were the villains. On "La Femme Nikita," the supposed villains are just the plot conveniences. The real villains are various superiors who, almost every week, conspire to suck the humanity out of Nikita, Michael and Berkoff, TV's ultimate computer nerd.
No wonder they couldn't wait to get rid of the show. Granted, it had a major problem going on the air at 10 p.m. Sunday, a time period owned lock, stock and barrel by one of TV's best dramas "The Practice" (and often rented, over the past two years, by Tony Soprano and the boys). A very tough time slot, that. But a simple time change could have taken care of that.
This way, they get to save a little money and expunge TV's most subversive show. To a certain kind of executive, then, it was doubtless a "no-brainer" -an extremely revealing phrase in this case.
Peta Hints At Life For Nikita
Show's loyal fans could be rewarded with a TV movie
Phil Rosenthal, Chicago Sun-Times (10 July 2000)
She paused on her way out of the room, leaned in conspiratorially and said in a voice too loud to be a whisper, "Ask me in about six weeks."
Peta Wilson and I had not hit it off at first. I made the mistake of attempting to solicit her help in answering the ludicrous number of e-mails clogging my computer and the computer of every other TV writer in the country ever since it was announced last month that this fourth season of her USA Network series, "La Femme Nikita," would be its last.
"Oh, don't even go there," Wilson said, dismissively, at an event intended to promote a Showtime miniseries in which she will star with Stockard Channing, Mia Farrow, Kate Capshaw, Linda Hamilton, Camryn Manheim, Irma P. Hall, Rebecca De Mornay, Elle Macpherson, Glenne Headley, Lynn Whitfield and Elizabeth Franz.
"It's done. . . . I'm not answering any questions about 'La Femme Nikita.' I'm really sorry. I had a really good time. We don't know what's going to happen next (any more than) you do. Things change. I'm here for 'It's a Girl Thing,' which is fantastic."
The miniseries set for early next year actually is called "A Girl Thing," but we can take a hint. It's not like she's the first blond to give us the brush. If she's that eager to get on with the rest of her career, who are we to stop her?
Still, there's the outcry . . .
"The outcry? You mean the fans? Well, there's these things called television movies . . ." she said, dropping what might be seen as a bombshell among the community of her fans hunched over their computer keyboards, venting their frustration by sending out the same basic form letter to everyone they can think of day after day.
"There's talk of me doing a 'La Femme Nikita' TV movie, but I really don't know," said Wilson, who then allowed that she does know one thing: "They haven't destroyed the sets on 'La Femme Nikita' yet."
So 'La Femme Nikita" may not be as dead as originally thought. Wilson's hired gun -- a role originated by Anne Parillaud in the 1990 Luc Besson film and Americanized by Bridget Fonda in John Badham's 1993 "Point of No Return" -- may live on yet again in a two-hour format.
And why not?
The end of the USA series, frankly, has never made that much sense and no one, publicly at least, has admitted to wanting to end it. The show, it seems, is kaput not because of viewer apathy. It's going away because USA and Warner Bros. can't strike a deal.
In other words, this story of a contract killer was killed by a contract.
"(It) was purely a political thing between the network and the studio," Wilson said. "It really had nothing to do with us, the cast or the fans. It wasn't personal."
No matter what happens, and Wilson is hoping her film career gets a boost, she figures she'll continue to work on TV. Warner Bros. has her under a one-year holding deal, and she and studio boss Peter Roth have tossed a few series ideas around informally.
"We haven't had a pitch meeting yet," she said. "There's nothing solid."
But she doesn't want to talk about it, so don't even go there.
Not for another six weeks or so.
Star Says Femme Nikita TV Film Possible
Bob Heisler, New York Daily News (11 July 2000)
There might be a glimmer of hope for fans of USA Network's action adventure series "La Femme Nikita," according to its star, Peta Wilson.
Wilson, appearing before the Television Critics Association's summer press tour to tout Showtime's series "A Girl Thing," said she wasn't sure about the fate of "La Femme Nikita," though she wouldn't rule out a return.
"I don't really know what's going to happen," Wilson told TV writers. "I have a very good relationship" with "La Femme" producer Warner Bros., "and we are in talks about doing a new show. But they haven't destroyed the sets on 'La Femme Nikita' yet, so we don't really I really don't know. Whatever happens, I'm going to continue a career in television."
USA and Warner Bros. ended "Nikita" under strange, and still unclear, circumstances. Apparently they couldn't come to terms on a new deal for the four-year-old series, so production on the series was halted, seemingly for good.
Wilson isn't letting go yet, nor is she waiting around for a call back to work.
"I'm not answering any questions about 'La Femme Nikita,'" she said. "I'm really sorry. I had a really good time."
"La Femme Nikita" is a takeoff on the popular 1990 French film later turned into the U.S. flick "Point of No Return," starring Bridget Fonda. The film revolves around a young punk whose death is faked by a secret organization so she can be trained as a covert operative.
While the series may never return with original episodes, Wilson said there may be an afterlife after all.
"Well, there's these things called 'television movies.' ... There's talk of me doing a 'La Femme Nikita' TV movie," she said.
"I'm flattered that it happened. But the freeze on 'La Femme Nikita' it had trouble was purely a political thing between the network and the studio," she added. "It really had nothing to do with us, the cast or the fans."
Nikita Star Holds Little Hope For Series Revival
Gail Pennington, St.Louis Post-Dispatch (13 July 2000)
Peta Wilson has nothing to say about "La Femme Nikita." "Don't even go there," she warns questioners. "It's done."
Well, not quite "stick a fork in it" done. Although the series is finished on USA cable, negotiations continue to bring it back as one or more movies that could wrap up story lines, USA Networks boss Stephen Chao confirms.
"La Femme Nikita," based on a French film about a criminal (Wilson, in the series version) recruited for mysterious undercover work, was produced for USA under a four-year deal with Warner Bros. When time came to negotiate an extension, the studio "came back at a price that was uneconomic," Chao said Tuesday when cornered in a hallway after USA introduced a slate of new series while failing to talk about old ones.
"Now we're looking at maybe figuring out how to extend it as specials," he added. "That's on the table right now."
Wilson, who had appeared a day earlier for a Showtime anthology called "It's a Girl Thing," later relented and did talk about "Nikita." "I had a really good time," she said. "Things change."
The sets haven't yet been destroyed, which could make movies possible, Wilson said, "but I don't really know. It just happened two weeks ago." In any case, she's in negotiations with Warner Bros. to do another regular series, either for a network or in syndication. "So, whatever happens, I'm going to continue a career in television."
Nikita May Yet Escape Death With New Deal
Tom Jicha, The (Montreal) Gazette (15 July 2000)
Nikita is almost impossible to kill. This has been established over the four-year run of the series on CTV and the USA cable network (which calls it La Femme Nikita). However, the thriller about a killer female spy - played by Peta Wilson - and her relationship with her hunky handler, Quebecer Roy Dupuis, faces greater life-threatening peril right now than the characters in the mysterious organization Section ever did.
A dispute over money has the show in a state of suspended animation. The only thing keeping it alive is a reluctance on the part of the USA network and Warner Bros., which produces Nikita, to issue an official death notice.
Wilson, who appeared on the summer network press tour to promote the Showtime miniseries It's a Girl Thing, was initially reluctant to discuss Nikita. ''Don't even go there,'' she said. ''I'm done.''
She eventually realized Nikita questions weren't going to go away and became a bit more expansive.
''I just finished the fourth season and I don't really know what's going to happen. I have a very good relationship with Warner Bros. We are in talks about doing a new show. But they haven't destroyed the sets on La Femme Nikita yet, so I really don't know.''
USA wants the series to go on, says Stephen Chao, the cable network's president - but not at Warner Bros.' price.
''Our original deal was for four years and we are in the fourth season,'' Chao said. ''When we sought to extend our deal, Warner Bros. asked for a licence fee that we just cannot pay.''
Both sides have walked away from the table, but they have exchanged phone numbers. Wilson suggested a possible compromise: ''There's these things called television movies.''
Chao said this would be fine with him. Indeed, he has broached the possibility with Warner Bros., and ''it's on the table right now.'' If a deal could be cut, Chao said, USA would like to do several a year.
He warned, however, that fans shouldn't get their hopes up. ''We haven't been able to reach an understanding on that, either.''
That will be a disappointment to thousands of fanatical Nikita fans, who have launched a petition to try to save the stylish drama The last episode of Nikita is now scheduled to air on Aug. 27, according to several Web sites.
Fans Try to Pull Nikita From Scrap Heap
Lisa Moss, Multichannel News (20 July 2000)
Fans are stepping up their fight to save USA Network's La Femme Nikita from cancellation oblivion, mounting an aggressive campaign that not only includes writing letters, but mailing old TV sets to the channel.
The Nikita rescue operation follows a time-honored tradition in television.
In 1955, viewers wielding pens saved Father Knows Best from an abrupt demise. After CBS pulled the plug, NBC picked up the show and it went on to become a hit.
In the early 1980s, Cagney & Lacey got a reprieve from CBS after being canceled, continuing on after a letter-writing outcry from its audience.
Now, loyal worldwide fans of Nikita -- another cable show with a cult following -- are trying hard to resurrect it for a fifth season.
They've taken their old-style letter-writing campaign to the next level, adding new twists such as sending e-mails, dollar bills, sunglasses and even old TV sets and remote controls in protest to both USA and Warner Bros. Television, which produced the series.
"We've gotten 30 TV sets out," said Nicole Esposito, a Pennsylvania web-page designer who set up a site (www.savelfn.org) that is acting as an Internet command post for the "Save La Femme Nikita Campaign 2000".
The TV sets include notes to USA and Warner Bros. to the effect of, "Without La Femme Nikita, we don't need these," according to Esposito. Each TV that goes to USA has a return address for Warner Bros., while those sent to Warner Bros. have return addresses for USA, she added.
While viewer campaigns on behalf of canceled TV shows have succeeded in keeping some series on the air, the odds of success are usually a long shot, according to Tim Brooks, senior vice president of research at Lifetime Television and co-author of The Complete Directory to Primetime Network and Cable TV Shows.
"It's a minority of these that worked," said Brooks, who is also the former head of research for USA Networks Inc. "No network will reinstate something purely based on letters unless they think it can get ratings."
The last new episodes of Nikita -- a quirky hour-long spy drama based on the movie of the same name -- will air on USA in August.
USA officials contend that they wanted to keep Nikita -- one of the cornerstones of its Sunday-night block of originals -- on the air. But they said they couldn't reach an agreement to extend their expiring pact with Warner Bros. for the series.
"Obviously, I dig the show," USA Cable president Stephen Chao said. "I did seek to renew our deal. We had had a complicated four-year contract. But it takes two people to agree to continue a contract."
Chao, perhaps ironically, was one of the executives who opted last year to cancel Mystery Science Theater 3000, which, three years earlier, had moved from Comedy Central to Sci Fi -- a network that, like USA, falls under his jurisdiction.
Is Nikita Really Dead?
Zap2It (9 July 2000)
Fans of the USA show have been struggling to find out what will happen to "Nikita" after USA made a surprise announcement last month that the show would not return for a fifth season. According to series star Peta Wilson, the future of "Nikita" is still in the air.
"I don't really know what's going to happen," Wilson said, noting "they haven't destroyed the sets for 'La Femme Nikita' yet."
Speaking with reporters in Pasadena to promote her new Showtime miniseries "A Girl Thing," Wilson said there is a chance "Nikita's" story could go on -- in a different form.
"There's talk of me doing a 'La Femme Nikita' TV movie, but I really don't know."
As for the reason behind the abrupt end to the show, Wilson confirmed the well-publicized stories about problems between USA and Warner Bros. TV, the show's production company.
"The reason 'La Femme Nikita' had trouble was purely a political thing between the network and studio," she explained. "It had nothing to do with us -- the cast -- or the fans... That sometimes happens."
However, regardless of what occurs, Wilson said she plans to keep busy. In addition to doing films like "A Girl Thing," she will probably continue to do TV since she has a one year deal with in place.
"I have a very good relationship with Warner Bros. and we are in talks about doing a new show."
La Femme to Live On?
Zap2It (14 August 2000)
The cult cable series adapted from 1990s hit French movie received its official cancellation notice in May after a solid 88-episode run on the USA network. The series was losing money for its distributor, Warner Bros., which couldn't justify keeping it in production for another year, Variety reports. But impending absence makes fickle Nielsen hearts grow fonder. Over the last few weeks, original episodes of "Nikita" airing Sundays at 10 have continued to harvest a strong crop of cable subscribers, averaging close to a 2 rating in USA homes despite limited promotion.
By contrast, three of the network's four fresh primetime series "The War Next Door'' (Sundays at 9), " Manhattan, AZ" (Sundays at 9:30) and " Cover Me" (Wednesdays at 9) -- have hovered between a 1 and a 1.5 rating in cable homes. The fourth newcomer, " The Huntress" (Wednesdays at 10), is a bright spot, averaging in the high 1's.
The network is just a month away from losing its two massive audience generators: the World Wrestling Federation series Mondays from 9-11, which chalks up a stunning 6 rating in cable homes, and the WWF hour Sunday at 7, which averages between a 2.5 and a 3 rating. So it's not surprising that known commodities like " Nikita" have suddenly taken on heightened importance, propelling USA and Warner Bros. to reconvene at the bargaining table to tear up the May pinkslip and prepare to greenlight another 22 hours for 2001.
Warner Bros. and USA declined to comment on the " Nikita" talks, but sources said the two parties could cement the deal by the middle of the week. The series stars Peta Wilson in the title role and Roy Dupuis as her mentor. In recent interviews, Wilson has said the show could continue in some form, including TV movies, though nothing was ever announced."
Nikita's Last Caper
Kathryn Greenaway, Montreal Gazette (12 August 2000)
E-mail flies around the world as fans brace for the demise of the cult TV series tonight.
Anne Théorêt and her sister Nathalie will be among the hundreds of thousands of Nikita fans huddled in front of their television sets tonight to bid a bittersweet farewell to the popular spy series.
And if the numerous Web sites dedicated to Nikita are to be believed, the stylish sexpionage show ends its fourth, and supposedly final, season with betrayals, steamy love scenes and even the deaths of major players.
Will Nikita - played by lanky and lovely Peta Wilson - finally find permanent happiness in the arms of her true love Michael, played by Québécois hunk Roy Dupuis? Has she really left Section One for good?
In spite of the copious clues available on the Internet, Anne Théorêt plans to find out by watching, not browsing.
"I want to experience the emotion of the moment without knowing what's going to happen," she said.
Théorêt plans to watch the last two episodes with a group of friends, then immediately log on to chat with other fans as far away as Lebanon and Belgium about their impressions of the two-hour Nikita finale.
The series, about a covert government agency called Section One, has captured the imagination of fans in 50 countries since it first aired four years ago. Its combination of sparse dialogue, beautiful people, fancy gadgets and the sexual tension between stars Wilson and Dupuis has won it a fanatical following on the Internet, where there are an estimated 2,000 Web sites with at least part of their content devoted to the show.
Because the broadcast dates for the series differ in Canada, the U.S. and Europe, exchanges take place in an international community where time zones and geography don't matter as much as a shared interest in Nikita, Michael, Operations, Madeline, Birkoff and Walter.
Many European fans, for instance, rely on "spoilers" or "tape fairies" to keep them up to speed while waiting for the European air date.
A spoiler refers to a message someone posts on a Web chat site that gives away the plot line of an upcoming episode. A tape fairy is someone who makes a personal videotape copy of an episode and ships it to another fan.
Théorêt is acting as tape fairy for fans congregating in Paris this weekend for a Nikita convention called Euro-Con. She is supplying three episodes, and tape fairies from the United States, where the last episodes have already aired on cable's USA Network, will supply the final three instalments.
Théorêt launched her Web site, the first bilingual Web site in Quebec, four years ago at www.geocities.com/anne-micha.
She estimates around 45 people regularly join in the French-only portion of her chat site.
"Of the 45, maybe only 10 are French-speaking," she said. "The rest join in because they want to talk about the show while they learn French."
Much of the discussion on Web sites like Théorêt's has revolved around the show's rumoured resurrection, a rumour that refuses to die in spite of the fact that tonight's episodes are being billed as Nikita's last hurrah. The series' cancellation was announced in May after Warner Bros., which produces the series, and the USA Network, which airs the show as La Femme Nikita, couldn't agree on a price for Season 5.
Fans launched electronic petitions calling for the series's renewal, and this week a new batch of rumours turned up on the Internet.
One such rumour has Warner Bros. And the USA Network negotiating for eight more episodes. According to the scuttlebutt, however, the new series would be more of a spin-off featuring only one member of the original cast: Nikita.
A spokesman from McLean and Associates, Wilson's agents in Los Angeles, refused to comment on the rumour, saying only that an announcement about her next project would be made within two weeks.
Another rumour hypothesizes that there will be a television movie featuring the original cast.
Dupuis could not be reached for comment, but his Montreal agent, Hélène Mailloux, said she had heard nothing about either a new mini-series or a movie.
Dupuis is spending the summer relaxing at his 1840s farmhouse outside Montreal. He is reading a hefty pile of film scripts and considering movie projects from Quebec, Canada, the United States and Europe, she said.
Warner Bros. was equally mum on the subject of a resurrected Nikita.
"At this time, no announcement has been made as to any future plans for the series," was all Warner Bros. spokesman Andrew Shipps would say.
Whatever happens, at least one diehard Nikita fans has been turned off by the melodramas of Season 4, which have included killing of the cuddly computer genius Birkoff and treachery between Operations and Madeline that was unexpected even in the amoral atmosphere of Section One.
Florida-based Christine Aubin runs one of the most popular and elaborate Nikita Web sites, Quinn's Roy Dupuis and La Femme Nikita Site (at www.quinn.simplenet.com).
"Season 4 has been a disapointment for a lot of fans," Aubin said in a telephone interview.
If the series were, for whatever reason, to be revived for one more season?
"I don't want to see it come back unless they get new writers. It's been ghastly this season," she said.
The final two episodes of Nikita's fourth season air on CFCF-12 tonight starting at 9. Repeats of Season One are broadcast on Showcase Fridays at 9pm. Repeats of Season 2 in French on TVA Thursdays at 9pm.
Series Lives On in Fan Fiction
Kali Pearson, The (Montreal) Gazette (12 August 2000)
Tonight, the final credits of the TV series Nikita will roll for the last time. But for thousands of fan-fiction writers, the story is far from over.
Using the Internet, writers will continue to tell the stories of Nikita and Michael, the heroes of the drama based on the French movie La Femme Nikita.
In fan fiction, everyday viewers take the characters and premises of shows to create their own storylines, in either prose or teleplay format.
Tara O'Shea is ringmaster of the Femme Nikita Web ring, a collection of 173 fan sites for the show. She has been writing fan fiction for various shows for more than 10 years, and she's convinced that Nikita, like Star Trek and Highlander, will be kept alive through fan fiction for a long time.
''Just because a show goes off the air, it doesn't mean the characters leave people's minds,'' she said.
It's the characters, more than the actors themselves or the plot lines, that inspire writers of fan fiction.
Like sci-fi, fantasy and horror, Nikita is an action-based show, leaving the characters almost entirely open to interpretation. Through fan fiction, writers can fill in the gaps in the show's storylines and get inside the characters' heads.
''Nikita is all about mystery and intrigue. It already forces the audience to use their imagination,'' O'Shea said. ''The credits roll and their brains are still going, so they write.''
Maybe because most fan-fiction writers are female, most of the stories tend to revolve around Michael, the character played by Quebecois actor Roy Dupuis.
''Roy's performance is very understated. Michael is the ultimate man of mystery. He's a blank slate, so writers can make him whatever they want: even that tragic romantic Heathcliff character the 15-year-old in them wants him to be,'' O'Shea said.
Although fan fiction doesn't necessarily focus on romance, it's usually rooted in the interpersonal relationships of people on the show.
''It's not that different from regular fiction. You're just working from characters that are already established,'' O'Shea said. ''Beyond that, the stories are just as varied.''
Susan M. Garrett, a New Jersey HTML programmer, is one of few fan-fiction writers who has moved into professional writing. In 1995, she was commissioned to write a tie-in novel for the defunct Canadian series Forever Knight, and she's in the process of editing a fantasy book.
She's also on the short list of writers now being considered to write tie-in novels for Xena: Warrior Princess.
Few fan-fiction writers ever think of getting paid for their work, but all of them take it seriously. ''Many of these people haven't written anything else in their lives, except a high-school essay or something,'' Garrett said.
''They start writing because they're creatively inspired by the show. When they post it on the Internet, and immediately get feedback and attention from it, they keep doing it.''
People keep writing for the relationships - between both the characters and the writers. And Garrett knows first-hand that writers won't let a little thing like cancellation stop them.
''Forever Knight was canceled after three years, but we went ahead and wrote a fourth season anyway,'' she said.
''Fandoms have a life cycle. The momentum builds up while the show's on the air, and it can continue for years after cancellation. As long as it's on the tube or the Internet somewhere and new people are seeing it, it'll keep going.
''Just look at Star Trek, for goodness sake,'' she said.