Alonzo Bodden won Last Comic Standing: Battle of the Best Tuesday night, but don't tell Comedy Central. A week after NBC canceled the increasingly low-rated reality show, Comedy Central picked up the one remaining episode--the finale--and slated it to air Saturday at 8 p.m.
But the day after the deal was announced, NBC scooped the cable network that was airing its castoff.
Jay Mohr and company filmed the half-hour finale at CBS Entertainment City in Los Angeles on Tuesday, and the winner--Bodden, respected for his well-written material and TV-friendly looks--was announced on NBC's Website shortly thereafter. Bodden won $250,000 for his trouble.
The deal to air the finale was presaged by Comedy Central's existing arrangement to air "encore presentations" of Last Comic Standing eps. The basic cable net also offered a one-hour special as a prize for the winners--Dat Phan in season one and John Heffron in season two.
However, when NBC canceled LCS last week, it was unclear what would become of the third-season competitors, in which the casts of season one and two were pitted against each other. At the time NBC shut off Mohr's mike, John Heffron, Alonzo Bodden, Rich Vos and Dave Mordal were the final four.
The original post-cancellation plan was to announce the winner in a brief interstitial during a three-ep Father of the Pride marathon. Mohr nodded to the net's apparent preference for the talking lion show when he signed off his original announcement of the Comic's cancellation: "I have to stop typing now because I have to go TiVo Father of the Pride."
According to Mohr's Web message, the show's producers had resisted a third installment so soon after the second, but NBC insisted that it needed to fill its schedule. "We argued that having a separate version of Last Comic so soon after season 2 concluded would burn the audience out and damage the franchise. Well the network insisted we move forward and we came up with LCS Battle of the Best." LCS3 did tank against tougher fall programming, averaging just 6 million viewers, down from 8 million-plus for both season one and two.
An NBC spokeswoman refused to comment on whether Last Comic Standing might return for a fourth round of hilarious hijinks.
Bodden, a former aviation mechanic, has some on-screen credits already. In addition to Lost Comic Standing, he played a brawny bouncer named Steel in The Girl Next Door and Bear in the Steve Martin-Queen Latifah comedy Bringing Down the House. He's also made guest appearances on the WB shows Angel and Grounded for Life.
On whis Website, Bodden wrote, "This thing hasn't sunk in yet, it's sort of surreal to hear you just won 250 grand but its true. Love you guys." And then he got in the obligatory Father of the Pride dig, "As for NBC, no one knows why they jerked around the show at the final episode. Some say it's ratings, others say it's DreamWorks, the producers of the animal puppets have lots of clout. Animal puppets, all I can say is somewhere out there is a great salesman."