ASPEN, Colorado - The "Secrets of Aspen" reality show apparently is facing its own reality - low viewer ratings and swirling rumors that it won't return for a sophomore season on VH-1.
The docu-soap, which debuted Jan. 3 and showcased the spats and high drama of six single socialites - a blend of part- and full-time residents - wrapped up its eight-show season Feb. 21.
An average of 487,000 viewers tuned in for the season-finale showdown between arch rivals Brooke and Laura, who locked horns over men, feelings and the legitimacy of Laura's beauty mole.
Their Aspen turf battle fared better with television audiences in January, attracting an average of 535,000 viewers per episode, according to The Nielsen Co., a media ratings service.
By contrast, cable television's most popular program in February, the USA Network's "Burn Notice," drew 6.32 million viewers on Feb. 11, while "WWE Raw," averaged more than 5.5 million viewers last month, according to Nielsen.
For "Secrets of Aspen" to have cracked the top 40 cable shows for the week of Feb. 22-28, it would have needed at least 3.1 million viewers, which is what a syndicated episode of "Family Guy" attracted to grab the final spot.
The return of "Secrets of Aspen" for another season, meanwhile, appears unsure. Officials with the show's production company, Denver-based High Noon Entertainment, referred questions to VH-1, which offered nothing conclusive.
"As far as I know, a decision hasn't been made either way about the show returning," wrote VH-1 publicist Candice Ashton in an e-mail to The Aspen Times.
Staff members for "Secrets of Aspen" signed confidentiality agreements that prohibit them from discussing the show. One local said anonymously that the future of "Secrets" looks murky.
"The fact they aren't here is pretty telling since they were pre-scouting to shoot during the winter and I haven't seen hide nor hair of them since January," the source said. "They would be shooting right now. But I don't know for sure that it has been canceled."
City Clerk Kathryn Koch, who processes film permit applications, said she last spoke with "Secrets" officials in December about conducting another shoot. Koch said she has not heard from them since then. Film permit applications are typically filed at least 30 days before filming actually begins, Koch said.
In the show's Feb. 22 finale, "Secrets" protagonist Laura hinted she'd be back on the prowl during ski season. But with no film application in the pipeline, and the chairlifts set to stop in mid-April, that threat has lost its sting.
The show had plenty of local detractors, including people who complained to Aspen City Hall and on a Facebook page called "Aspen Against VH-1's 'Secrets of Aspen.'" As of Wednesday, the page had 3,523 members, including one who vented: "They should take this shit to Vail."
The show's Facebook fan page had 974 well-wishers as of Tuesday, including one admirer who recently gushed: "I hope there's more seasons to come. Absolutely adore Brooke and Erin."