Monday, April 15, 2013
Network executives are running all over town to get from runthroughs to table readings to filmings. And Coldwater Canyon is closed. As they’re stuck on Laurel Canyon desperately trying to make a runthrough for a pilot they pretty much know is dead they’re muttering to themselves. “Why can’t they spread out these pilots?”
Table readings used to consist of the cast sitting around a conference table with writers, execs, etc. sitting in one row behind them. Now there are so many executives that the cast is generally at one long table like a dais and there are rows of chairs – theater seating.
So to get a jump there are now often pre-table readings.
Actors are being fired after table readings and runthroughs. Networks, studios, producers, and directors try to reassure their nervous casts but actors aren’t dumb. The pressure can be enormous, especially if a pilot isn't going well.
Actors are being fired because their parts are being eliminated. Almost every pilot goes into production way too long. The sister, the fourth roommate, the zany mechanic – they’re usually the first to go.
Or, those side characters score and suddenly became the second lead.
Creator/producers will ask their writer friends to come in and help out on rewrites during production. Half of these consultants will show up, sit in the room, and not say a word.
Every cast will have one actor who is a handful. Hopefully, it’s only one, it’s not the star, and whoever it is is worth it.
Some sitcom pilots get massively rewriteen. Here’s what I don’t understand: the script was good enough to get a pick up, and the actors hired were the ones who got the biggest laugh with that material. Why is it now all shit?
Several pilots will implode. Most of those never should have been greenlit in the first place.
Jim Burrows will direct most multi-camera pilots.
If you have a project in the running at CBS, yes, Chuck Lorre’s new pilot will fill one of the slots. Not because he has three shows on the schedule already, but because this pilot is very funny and well cast.
Buzz in everywhere and totally unreliable. A good table read will result in the media saying it’s a lock for pick up.
All decision are made in New York.
Movie directors now direct drama pilots because it’s a big payday. They work a month and collect a fat royalty for the life of the series and never even watch the show after that.
Pilots that networks love they can suddenly hate… and then love again… and then hate. This can go on for weeks.
When you read that a list of shows is “also in contention” it usually means they’re dead.
No one wants to turn in their pilot first. The network sees it, likes it, but by the time they have to decide they’ve seen it seven times and are bored with it. All producers try to get their pilots in one minute under the deadline.
Networks always claim they’re high on the pilots starring big stars. Especially when the pilot is in production, that’s to placate the stars.
Just because a network has given a project a firm order even before the pilot is produced doesn’t man it will be one of their best new shows. It often means the opposite.
Forget the buzz, ultimately it’s testing that will determine the winners.
If you have a pilot, best of luck. You can catch up on sleep during the flight to New York.
"Why can't they spread out these pilots?"
By Ken Levine at 6:00 AM