LAST CALL: 'Deadline' misses with weak script

Even lawyers are more loved than journalists, at least on TV. The cancellation of NBC's Deadline, a show put together by the same team that created the hugely successful Law and Order, proves the point.

Oliver Platt, Lili Taylor and Tom Conti staffed the fictional newsroom of the New York Ledger - a journal clearly inspired by the New York Post.

But the concept just wouldn't fly. 'You need a better script,' sniffed Howard Rubenstein, whose client roster includes the Post.

Ratings for the series had dropped from a high of 14.3 million to 6.8 million during its four-week life span.

Reporters should be perfect subjects for drama, says Rubenstein, but journalism needs a PR makeover. 'The media need to somehow explain their role in a free society,' he says.

As the fictional paper's role model, the Post needn't feel slighted by the cancellation. 'They certainly won't be damaged by that,' Rubenstein says. 'In fact, the program might have benefited from dramatizing more Post-like activities.'

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