Scott D. Pierce: Right-wing conspiracy theorists proven wrong about ‘Last Man Standing’

Once and for all, can we just get over the ridiculous idea that ABC canceled “Last Man Standing” because of politics?

The bogus theory was that ultra-liberal, Disney-owned ABC axed the series in May 2017 because its star, Tim Allen, is a right-winger … a conservative … and even, perhaps, a backer of Donald Trump.


That was a lie, but truth is not a prerequisite for outrage on social media.

You don’t have to take my word for it. Now that “Last Man Standing” has been revived and will return on Fox this fall, Allen is coming to the defense of his former employers.

“I worked for ABC for years. I know these people,” said the star, who spent 14 years at the network (six with “Last Man Standing”; eight with “Home Improvement”). “And if it was a political motivation to [cancel ‘Last Man’], they certainly wouldn’t be dim enough to admit it or ever show that side of themselves.”

If that sounds a bit equivocal, what Allen said next was not.

“I don’t really believe that it was [political],” he added. “I think it was a financial decision on ABC’s part.”

Fox Television Group CEO Gary Newman said that he and his fellow CEO, Dana Walden, “thought it was canceled too soon and was more about ABC wanting an opportunity to try to program Friday night with [shows from] its own studio as opposed to using ‘Last Man Standing.’”

(Photo courtesy of Frank Micelotta/FOX/PictureGroup) Dana Walden and Gary Newman, chairmen and CEOs of the Fox Television Group, address TCA members

That’s the way network television works. Explaining Fox’s cancellation of “Lucifer” — which was produced by Warner Bros. — Walden said, “The show worked well for us during the time that we had it” but “we just made a determination that, ultimately — given that it was owned by an outside studio — we couldn’t justify the economics.”

That’s the exact explanation ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey gave for the cancellation of “Last Man Standing.”

(By the way, “Lucifer” has been picked up by Netflix.)

That’s the way the business works, folks. A show that’s owned by the network that airs it has a leg up over a show that’s owned by a different studio.

Allen agreed that ABC canceled the show “too early.” He pointed to the 8.3 million viewers “Last Man” averaged during the 2016-17 season. “That’s big stuff in this world.”

And he is clearly still angry — even bitter — about what happened. He complained (again) that the cancellation was “done very poorly” and left him “heartbroken.”

But Allen refuted the conspiracy theory that politics — specifically, his political views — had anything to do with the cancellation. He said that when Fox revived the show, he received congratulatory calls from a number of ABC and Disney executives, up to and including chairman/CEO Bob Iger.

Christoph Sanders, from left, Jonathan Adams, Jordan Masterson, Amanda Fuller, Nancy Travis, Tim Allen, executive producer/showrunner/writer Kevin Abbott, executive producer Becky Clements and executive producer/writer Matt Berry participate in the "Last Man Standing" panel during the Fox Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour at The Beverly Hilton hotel on Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP)

“I’ve been a family with ABC forever, and they’re very supportive,” he said.

The irony here is that Allen and the rest of the “Last Man Standing” cast and crew will soon once again be working for the same people who canceled the show. The sitcom is produced by 20th Century Fox Television, which is being sold to Disney as part of a massive $71.3 billion deal. Disney — the parent company of ABC — will own “Last Man Standing” and license it back to the Fox broadcast network, which is not part of the sale.

And, even though none of this had anything to do with politics, the return of “Last Man Standing” will, no doubt, embolden the conspiracy theorists.

“They feel like they are the reason — that their efforts have brought it back — and so it feels like their victory as well,” said Nancy Travis, who co-stars as Allen’s TV wife.