Tuesday, May 18, 2010

It's Upfronts week!

This is Upfronts Presentation Week, when each of the networks roll out their new fall schedules. Whether your show gets ordered or not, the response is the same. “Oh shit!”

If you did get a pick-up you realize you’re already behind. And in many cases today, show orders come with tiny addendums like… recast half the parts, reshoot the whole pilot, you must hire this show runner to be over you, or these writers you don’t know to your staff.

And if your show didn’t get picked up you’re now one of those show runners hoping to be forced on someone.

So for the victors I say enjoy the hell out of this week. Go to all the cocktail parties. Collect all the SWAG. If there’s a network dinner order the prime rib. Be at the Upfronts presentation. Kvell as you hear your show touted as the best pilot to come along since ER (although the president of NBC at the time hated the ER pilot and had to be talked into putting the show on the air). You know it’s all bullshit. That guy on stage calling your show groundbreaking will be on the phone to you in two weeks ordering you to make it more mainstream.

Agents will be fawning all over you, asking you questions like “how was your weekend” as they gave a flying shit.

You’ll be getting texts and tweets of congratulation, and some will even be from people who don’t want a job. Okay… maybe three.

Tale the Laker tickets if the actors they offered them to first decline.

Relish it all. You deserve it.

The truth is, getting a show on the air is a Herculean feat (unless you’re Chuck Lorre, J.J. Abrams, Jerry Bruckheimer, or Dick Wolf). Think of all the pitches, all the scripts that came in, all the pilots that were produced – many starring bigger names than you had – and for you to emerge with one of those few coveted spots is nothing short of sensational. You made it through countless script notes, casting battles, testing, and executive screenings. So allow yourself to savor this accomplishment. Believe that your show got on because it’s really good, not cause the other candidates were even worse.

Next week the real work begins. So live it up now.


Oh shit!


Watts said...

It's not always easy even for Dick Wolf -- I was curious about a new show of his, "Lost and Found," with Katie Sackhoff (Kara Thrace on the new "Battlestar Galactica"), but it wasn't picked up for the 2009 season.

Steven said...

I'm glad you mentioned Chuck Lorre. I don't think either "Big Bang Theory" or "Two and a Half Men" are close to the funniest shows on TV right now, but the guy writes formulaic, technically sound comedy with no ongoing storylines, therefore making it easy for new viewers to get into the show, and he gets monster ratings each week for CBS.

gottacook said...

Does anyone know whether there is a list online of pilots that were thought to be good candidates but were not picked up? Besides the Dick Wolf show already mentioned, the only ones I know about are "Open Books" with Patti LuPone for CBS (mentioned at the Playbill site) and the "Rockford Files" remake (which I presume the decision-makers at NBC ultimately realized was simply a bad idea).

Steph said...

Ken, I have a pretty damn good idea for a t.v. show. How does a regular Joe Shmo get in a position to pitch something like that?

Todd said...

CBS just announced their new Fall schedule. Among the Innovations:

"BLUE BLOODS" (Tom Selleck, Donnie Wahlberg): Cops.

"THE DEFENDERS": (Jim Belushi, Jerry O'Donnell): Lawyers.

Oh, an' a remake of "HAWAII FIVE-O".

In other words, the networks continue their bold march into the 20th century.

Spin that.


Dana Gabbard said...

Heidi, it isn't the ideas so much as who brings them to the network. Maybe you should get an agent and start submitting to leading producers. Moving to L.A. would help. Maybe Ken can provide his perspectives on a Friday about " How does a regular Joe Shmo get in a position to pitch" a TV series.

Dana Gabbard said...

One last thought--Heidi, have you thought of doing your series idea as a book first? I think Harlan Ellison said coming to TV as a published author can mean you'll be greeted with respect versus just being another aspiring screenwriter. And probably easier to get an agent.