Hello from Washington D.C. My partner David Isaacs and I once wrote a pilot set in this town (well, actually two pilots but the same theme). It was set in D.C., we spent several days in Washington doing research only to learn that all of the great dynamics we thought were in the premise did not in real life exist. Plus, ABC was nervous that the subject matter might be too controversial. So what we were left with was a show with no conflict and no bite.
Today, that would be enough to stop us. Today we’d go back to the network and say we can’t write this. There’s no show here. If we had to produce 13 of these we’d end up in ICU. But then we were young so we wrote it anyway. ABC was thrilled with the script. But they didn’t pick it up. It was STILL too controversial.
We actually breathed a sigh of relief. But a month later HBO called. They had heard of the project and wanted us to re-develop it for them. Except they wanted it super edgy. Our only guideline – don’t make it anything like any other sitcom you might see on traditional TV.
So we wrote that script. It was a very funny scathing satirical piece about Washington.
We had a deal at Lorimar at the time and its president, Lee Rich so hated the new version he tried to fire us from our deal. Everything HBO asked for was everything he despised. Needless to say, that project died. He cooled down and didn’t fire us. But CHEERS came along and we left there so fast you can still see skid marks.
I still say Washington D.C. is fertile ground for a sitcom. Just not the ones we wrote.