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Local TV Shows Soon Out of Sight

It had to end at some point.

That’s the case for two Albuquerque-based flagship TV shows, both of which recently announced they are ending their runs after one more season.

AMC’s “Breaking Bad” and USA Network’s “In Plain Sight” will film and air their fifth and final seasons in 2012.

More film news
Disney just pulled the plug on a big-ticket movie slated to be filmed in New Mexico.
It canceled its plan to remake “The Lone Ranger,” which was set to star Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer and Helena Bonham Carter.
The film fell through after Disney didn’t want to pony up $250 million for the Western remake.
It was reported to be shot in Silver City and a casting call in Silver City was canceled over the weekend.

Both helped raise the bar when it came to successful film projects in New Mexico, as well as raising the Duke City’s profile among viewers since both plots actually take place in Albuquerque.

The shows have strong viewership – “In Plain Sight” had 4.9 million viewers and “Breaking Bad” averages 4.3 million viewers.

“Of course, we’d like to see them run for a longer period, but some shows have a life that’s built into the story,” said Wayne Rauschenberger, Albuquerque Studios’ chief operating officer, where “Breaking Bad” is filmed. And, “there is a great deal of competition for television viewers.”

“Breaking Bad” is the story of Walter H. White, a struggling high school chemistry teacher who is diagnosed with advanced lung cancer at the beginning of the series. He turns to a life of crime, producing and selling methamphetamine with a former student with the aim of securing his family’s financial future before he dies.

In recent weeks, the cable network and Sony Pictures were at odds over the cost of the show.

A shortened season was to air and Sony was prepared to shop around the series to another network before a deal was struck Sunday. That’s when AMC announced it has ordered 16 episodes for the show’s fifth and final season.

“Breaking Bad” is reported to cost $3 million per episode.

The show has been a critical darling, earning six Emmy Awards.

Meanwhile, “In Plain Sight,” starring Mary McCormack, is ending even though its viewership is up 8 percent from season three.

McCormack is a U.S. Marshal who works for the witness protection program, and much of the latest season centers around her pregnancy. The series is shot at I-25 Studios. The order for season five is just eight episodes and is due to roll out in the spring.

Stars for both series live in Albuquerque much of the year, and local sites are prevalent throughout both shows.

Nick Maniatis, hired in June as director of the New Mexico Film Office in Santa Fe, said he’s actively pursuing more TV shows.

“TV shows have longer shoot dates than films,” he said. “Since I’ve come into this position, I want to pull more TV shows into the area.”

I-25 Studios CEO Rick Clemente said the studio has been “at capacity for some time.”

“In fact, we haven’t announced it yet but we are further expanding our facility,” he said. “We should be able to do two episodic TV shows simultaneously.”

Clemente said one reason Albuquerque is attractive – besides the weather and strong crew base – is that it’s just an hour and a half flight from Los Angeles, so cast and crew members who are here for eight and nine months at a time “can blast out of here and go home for the weekend. Anywhere else is too big a deal to get home for the weekend.”

Albuquerque Studios’ Rauschenberger said the fact that New Mexico had two multi-season TV shows here says a lot about how far the state has come in the film business.

“We’ve had other television shows approach us, but due to schedules and timing we weren’t able to accommodate them,” he said. “We definitely will continue to pursue television shows.”

The state is firmly established in the film industry, and studios shouldn’t be affected by the loss of the shows, said Anne Lerner, director of the city’s film office.

“Variety Magazine says that outside of L.A. and New York, New Mexico has the most qualified crew, so I am just very confident about the future of film in New Mexico,” she said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
— This article appeared on page A1 of the Albuquerque Journal