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Providence, Rhode Island's 15 minutes is over. After five seasons.

NBC on Monday axed the Northeastern town's beloved namesake family drama. A two-hour Providence finale, described as a "touching, heartwarming send-off," airs December 20, the network announced.

The cancellation is the first of the new season for NBC, now running second to dominant CSI, er, CBS.

Providence debuted on January 8, 1999, with onetime soap actress Melina Kanakaredes starring as a big-city plastic surgeon who returns to her picturesque hometown.

Never a critical favorite, the show earned one Emmy, for costuming, and was declared Favorite New Dramatic Series at the 2000 People's Choice Awards.

"NBC owes a great deal of gratitude to the cast and crew of Providence, which turned the lights on for the network on Fridays when it premiered," NBC Entertainment president Jeff Zucker said in a statement.

The one thing Zucker apparently didn't think NBC owed the series was a full season. The show gets the axe after only four airings this fall (albeit airings that came in at about 50th or 60th place in the ratings). The Peacock put Providence on a short leash last spring when it reportedly renewed the series for only 13 episodes, instead of the usual 22.

"We knew it was in trouble," says Andy Smith, TV writer for the real Providence's own Providence Journal.

Smith says the show was a genuine favorite of Providence denizens, its cast and crew "treated like Gods" whenever they came to town.

"Whatever else you may think of it, it made the town look beautiful...It was sunlit. It was always autumn," Smith says, cracking, "I wish I lived there."

Providence joins the WB's Off Centre, the lowest rated of the lowest-rated; and ABC's Push, Nevada and That Was Then on the TV year's pink-slip list.

On the gold-star list, ABC has guaranteed the run of comic George Lopez's self-titled sitcom through the end of the season, it announced Monday. George Lopez, renewed for the fall after a four-episode tryout last spring, was watched by an all-time high 12.7 million people last Wednesday. It's also meshing well with its 8 p.m. lead-in, My Wife and Kids.

Other shows to get full-season passes so far: ABC's 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter, Life With Bonnie and Less Than Perfect; the WB's Everwood, Greetings from Tucson, Do Over, What I Like About You and Family Affair; and UPN's Half and Half.

Additionally, ABC has renewed NYPD Blue, now in its 10th season, for the 2003-04 TV year.