Sunday, August 31, 2008

Labor Day in Hollywood

Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer. In the entertainment business it means this:

The movie industry resumes after three months of vacation. When agents submit spec screenplays there will be executives there to read them. (But only for a couple of weeks. The Toronto Film Festival is days away and they’ll all be gone for that.)

Your agent returns from his-or-her vacation. They rented a villa in Nice for a month and then met up with more successful clients than you, rented a yacht and cruised the Mediterranean, buying some amazing artwork along the way. Your vacation was an August weekend in Tucson.

Sitcoms are back in production. Show three has just filmed and there is no script for show four. It goes into production on Wednesday. Pre-production began right after Memorial Day. What happened to all that lead time???

Showrunners on new shows are being bombarded with notes from nervous networks, studios, non-writing producers, actors, managers, and spouses.

Showrunners on new shows are also making those obligatory calls to the network crying that they’re not getting enough on-air promotion. They’ve seen one promo for their show while ads for STUDIO 60 are still running even though it’s been canceled.

Hour dramas are already way behind schedule. Upcoming scripts are being revised, slashing any scene that can’t be filmed in an hour.

Showrunners on ensemble dramas are receiving those calls from cast members’ managers complaining their clients aren’t getting as much to do as other cast members (whose managers are also complaining).

Network development people are a month into hearing pitches and they’ve heard the same one eleven times already. “What if we went home with the Joker and met his family?”

Writers who spent months preparing their pilot pitches only to be shot down in the first minute now scramble to come up with something else.

Mandy Patinkin walks off whatever project he’s currently on.

Oscar campaigns get sent upstairs for approval.

The Cedars-Sinai cardiac ward is reserving a couple of private rooms. October is just around the corner.



Anonymous said...

Phil Rosenthal wrote what I thought was a very good book about being the co-creator and showrunner of "Everybody Loves Raymond."

The book is called "You're Lucky You're Funny." I was wondering if you've read it and what your thoughts are about it?

VP81955 said...

Sitcoms are back in production.

Really? Where?

(I'm overstating the case, I'll admit, but of the few I do see today, there's not a "Frasier" or "Seinfeld" in the bunch. OK, those are lofty standards, but in the current crop I don't see anything even as good as second-tier caliber series such as "Everybody Loves Raymond" or "Friends.")

Anonymous said...

vp8: Not a fan of The Office or 30 Rock, eh? I am, but otherwise, I take your point.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if, in your days around the set, how many actors/actresses have come back from vacation either too thin, too fat or too tan.

And how much did it set back production of the show?


Chris from NJ

Anonymous said...

I will take people's word for it that the scripts for NBC's THE OFFICE are generally pretty good, but I find this show unwatchable. I've tried on several occasions to give it a chance, but each time I was quickly put off by the overbusy camerawork. (Whereas in the 1990s I quickly got used to the equally radical way that HOMICIDE: LIFE ON THE STREET was shot; in that case, I guess, actual cinematographic talent was involved.)

Anonymous said...

gottacook: The Office is shot handheld because the premise of the show is that it is being filmed by a documentary crew. I realize that won't prevent you from being annoyed by it, but at least it's motivated more by logic than affectation.

Anonymous said...

jbryant: The perfect rejoinder to your comment is the HOMICIDE episode directed by real documentarian Barbara Kopple, large chunks of which are devoted to Brodie's (Max Perlich) documentary about the squad. Hugely less annoying than THE OFFICE segments I've seen, and a testament to the fact that documentary-style doesn't have to mean let's-just-pan-and-zoom-the-camera-anywhere.

Jenius said...

August in Tucson...yet another thing I missed out on this summer.