‘Longmire’ Author Solves Mystery of A&E Network Show Cancellation, Still Has Questions About Show’s Future
Small "Longmire" mystery solved.
Big "Longmire" mystery still under investigation.
Thousands of fans are still enraged over the A&E Network's cancellation in August of the "Longmire" television series, based on the modern Western book series by Craig Johnson, who lives outside Buffalo.
Johnson, like a lot of fans, was not impressed with A&E's initial spin on the cancellation, he said. "To be honest, it's been kind of funny."
It was the network's top-rated scripted drama with nearly 6 million viewers an episode or about six times the average viewership of most cable shows, and it aired in 189 countries, he said.
Johnson's Sheriff Walt Longmire tries to keep law and order in the fictional Absaroka County -- loosely modeled on Johnson County -- from the fictional county seat of Durant, loosely modeled on Buffalo. The sheriff also wrestles with his personal angels and demons after the murder of his wife, navigates the politics and business of whites and Native Americans, and put forwards a firm chin while wielding a dry wit.
The Town of Buffalo has hosted Longmire Days for the past three summers, attracting upwards of 8,000 visitors to watch Indian dancers, party at a nighttime street dance, cruise on a motorcycle run, and meet Johnson and actors including Robert Taylor who plays Walt Longmire, Katie Sackhoff who plays Deputy Vic Moretti, Cassidy Freeman who plays Walt's daughter/lawyer Cady Longmire, and Adam Bartley who plays the deputy known as the Ferg.
Despite A&E's cancellation of the television show, Angela Fox Jarvis of the Buffalo Chamber of Commerce said last month the town plans to host Longmire Days again in 2015.
Jarvis said the phone in her office rang off the hook because of the angry fans.
Neither she, they nor Johnson bought A&E's explanation that the show didn't appeal to the network's targeted audience of younger viewers.
"The storm that hit them, from people older than 49, was truly a tsunami of anger," Johnson said. That demographic has 75 percent of the country's disposable income, he added.
The next spin was basically the truth, he said. "They wanted to own the show."
In other words, A&E wanted either a whole "Longmire" loaf or no "Longmire" loaf.
Warner Brothers -- Warner Horizon Television -- produced "Longmire," and licensed it to A&E. Warner had the licensing fees and A&E had the advertising revenue.
That wasn't enough for the network, Johnson said.
"A&E said if you don't sell it to us, we're going to cancel it. So Warner Brothers said, well that's fine, you do what you need to do. So A&E canceled the show."
That solved the first "Longmire" mystery.
The investigation continues into the second mystery: Where will it go?
"Now, Warner Brothers and all the producers are out there re-pitching the show to a bunch of networks and services, and we're just waiting to see what it is that's going to happen," Johnson said.
He hears different rumors daily, he said. "It's interesting to see who's in play, you know, who's not in play."
To hear more of K2 Radio's interview of Craig Johnson, tune into "Report to Wyoming" at 7 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 26.