According to an article in the NY Daily News, NBC Universal can't find any network willing to underwrite one last 'Columbo' mystery.
"Peter approved a final script some time ago. It's called 'Columbo: Hear No Evil,'" said Charles Engel, executive vice president of current programming at NBC Universal. "It took a while to find the right one and for Peter to give it the okay. Now we're anxious to film it, but ABC has passed. No one wants to buy a movie with an 80-year old lead."
Here's the link to David Walstad's article.
Actually, it's their own fault, and I include Peter Falk for the blame. Don't get me wrong - 'Columbo' is up there in my top five favorite TV shows, and I made damned sure Lt. Columbo made it into the TV Crossover Hall of Fame. I want to see the actor and the role together again at least one last time.
However, they should have been planning for this eventuality years ago. To have Falk playing a detective on the force past the age of even 65 was destroying the show's believability. To have him still working at 80?
But they could have worked around it. With one of the last episodes they did, they could have capped it off with Columbo finally retiring from the force; something low-key, in much the same way that Lennie Briscoe left the NYPD on 'Law & Order'.
But with the next mystery in the saga, let's say with 'Murder With Too Many Notes', Columbo could have now been an adviser with the department, a mentor to some younger detective. Or he could have gone to work as an investigator with the L.A. DA's office.
I don't see him being a private investigator, because that wouldn't give him as much access into the lives of the rich, backed up by the threat of the power of the LAPD.
At any rate, maybe the producers should really look into getting that foreign money just to make the damn finale for Lt. Columbo, and then worry about whether or not there's a market for it.
I mean, this is a man who just got voted into the Top Ten of Coolest Characters on TV over in Great Britain! At least TV characters get the respect they deserve over there, no matter how old they are....