Tuesday, May 05, 2015
the pilot process can make you CRAZY
How do the new pilots mesh with existing shows? What’s a compatible lead in? And then there’s counter-programming. Is this the year you can topple THE VOICE? And if so, with what? Is THE BLACK LIST vulnerable? Have they run out of cities to tack onto NCIS?
If you’ve got a horse in this race it can make you CRAZY. Rumors swirl hourly. You read the on-line industry trades and shows are on the schedule, then dead, then a strong candidate for mid-season, then maybe another network is interested if the first one passes, then that option flames out, then they’re alive again at the first network.
Meanwhile, creators of these shows are currently going through lists of potential writers should they get picked up. Since everyone will be staffing at the same time they try to hedge their bets by taking meetings beforehand. But everything is up in the air until the schedule is locked. For the second year of ALMOST PERFECT we were going to hire Phil Rosenthal as our number two if his pilot didn’t get ordered. It did (EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND) and we had to move on.
A good sign is when a network gives a new show permission to HIRE his staff even before it’s picked up. But even then, you're not out of the woods. At the end of the day the network might decide to order only six and not thirteen and some of the writers you wanted to hire now pass to seek a show with more episodes. AAAAGH!!!!
The truth is unless the deal is signed and the ink is dry you have no guarantee your show has been ordered. Here’s my favorite story. A creator/showrunner was told his show had been picked up for the Fall. He and his cast were summoned to New York to appear at the Upfronts presentation. They fly across the country, guzzle champagne, land, the showrunner gets a call only to learn there was a change in plans and his show was now dead. Ooops. Everyone had to turn right around and fly back to Los Angeles. (If you think they drank on the first flight...)
What happened over Mississippi?
Good luck to everyone with a pilot in contention. But remember my someday-famous line: The winners go to work, the losers go to Hawaii.