The TV-mogul life of Ellen DeGeneres has hit a snag. HLN announced today that it was cutting a TV show inspired by DeGeneres’s “Head’s Up!” segment on her primary show, Ellen, Variety reports.
The television show spun out of a consistent game DeGeneres plays with her guests, truly constantly. In the last month or so alone, DeGeneres has invited four of her guests to test the game with her–Sally Field and Max Greenberg, visiting to promote their joint film Hello, My Name is Doris; Kate McKinnon, who was on for her upcoming role in the all-female Ghostbusters remake; and Zac Efron, who had stopped by and talked about working with actor Robert DeNiro in the movie Bad Grandpa 2.
The rules are fairly simple, though various guests have been known to try and bend them. Essentially, “Head’s Up!” is a renovation of “charades;” the visiting guest acts some person, place, or thing out and Ellen attempts to guess the word that is being illustrated (or, they’ll flip the roles with the same rules). Despite it’s familiar predecessor, “Head’s Up!” became extremely popular since its introduction years ago and has even spawned a successful spin-off game by the same name, which can be downloaded for the iPhone or Android in the App Store.
Therefore it was no surprise to anyone when HLN picked the segment up for a regular full-length show in April of 2015. The network claimed that the series would run every Monday through Friday for a half-hour slot at a time. Heads Up! had been signed for 65 episodes and had even hired Loni Love, co-talk-show-host of The Real, to take the lead hosting role.
Every single one of those 65 episodes had been shot and developed, but now, every one are going straight to the dumpster. While HLN gave no explanation as to why they had shelved the practically-completed and ready-to-air program, the cancellation follows a spiraling pattern the network has been exhibiting for the last several months.
CNN, while still retaining its status as the number-one epicenter for 24-hour news coverage, has been tinkering with its product network for a while now. While HLN is well-recognized for its ferocious Nancy Grace show, it still falls behind the other competitors in terms of the news and overall ratings. In the fall of 2013, CNN brought on Albie Hecht, former executive at Viacom (think the mother of all that is CBS and Time Warner Cable, who owns CNN and HLN), to straighten the weaker network out. Since that move, more and more CNN officials have been flooding down to HLN, including Amy Entelis, CNN’s executive vice president for talent and content development, as well as her entire team; and Ken Jautz, a veteran head at CNN who will now head HLN.
Since the beginnings of HLN’s makeover, CNN has replaced its own leader with Jeff Zucker as well, who will continue the redesign. In this wake, several executives at HLN have resigned.
Therefore it is really no surprise at all that that the Ellen-inspired show bit the dust in the midst of total reconstruction. However, it may not be the end of Head’s Up! yet; whatever challenges HLN faces ahead, there are other networks who may be interested in investing in the mogul’s project.