Recently received the following e-mail:
At least Bill has the sense to have both Fringe and Alcatraz on the bubble/toss-up where for whatever crazy reasons you have both as likely to be canceled. There’s no way Fox would cancel both JJ Abrams shows because they wouldn’t want Abrams to be mad at them!
I’m pretty sure Bill would’ve had Alcatraz as likely to be canceled on Tuesday had he not been off somewhere throwing back mai tais. But he would’ve had Fringe as a toss-up and barring additional ratings carnage I suspect he’ll have it as a toss-up until its fate is known (and then either way be able to claim he was right!). As noted previously, there was a reason for Warner Bros to discount Fringe enough to entice Fox to renew it for a fourth season that made sense based on the conventional wisdom around syndication, even despite its low ratings last year. That’s not in play this year.
Networks certainly don’t set out to have bad relationships with creative talent like Abrams and of course they want to foster good relationships. But shows getting canceled for low ratings aren’t likely to tick off the likes of Abrams so much that he wouldn’t want to deal with the network anymore, at least not without a lot of extenuating circumstances. The supply of outlets who will pay big bucks for TV shows is very, very limited. There aren’t many doors to knock on for a big pay day, and with so few doors production companies and studios don’t slam doors shut over things like low-rated shows getting canceled.
It isn't totally inconceivable that if J.J. Abrams had a project Fox wanted so badly that a renewal for Alcatraz or Fringe became part of the negotiations. So particularly because it's Fringe, I can't completely dismiss the Abrams-factor. But I’m not aware of such a project (don't follow the development cycle closely) and it’s not the sort of thing we can systematically factor into renewal predictions. I can't imagine that Fox would want something so badly that it would renew two low-rated shows just to get its hands on it, but it's conceivable it could happen for one. I don't think it will happen for either Fringe or Alcatraz, at least not in this universe. But perhaps I'm the one living in the wrong universe (again!).