Monday, November 26, 2012

If I ran NBC

Here’s a question from reader Jim that set my mind a'wanderin':

What would you do to turn around NBC's fortunes?

Let's say you've been tapped to be the network's head programmer. What would you change? What would you keep? What would you do that the other networks aren't doing that would set your network apart?

First off, be it duly noted that NBC just won the November sweeps for the first time in like a decade.  So they are going in the right direction.  Granted, it's because of THE VOICE, SNF, REVOLUTION, and GO ON, but still -- credit where credit is due. 

Now...being the head programmer wouldn't be enough.  I'd have to be whatever the title is that I could really make the decisions.  So assuming that utterly unrealistic fantasy...

I would cancel WHITNEY.  America has voted.

I would stick with PARKS AND RECREATION.

I would aim for quality over zeitgeist.

I would not be afraid of developing sophisticated product.  It's always worked before. 

I would give the viewers credit for intelligence.  Especially the young ones.

I would not do knock-off versions of current sitcoms. No NEW GIRL clones. No MODERN FAMILY wannabes. Not saying NBC is doing that now but that's my philosophy.

I would sit down with Lorne Michaels and see what we can do to make SNL less uneven. Maybe one fewer new episode a month? Some new writers? I don’t know. But along the way they do some inspired stuff. More of that and less of the tired lame material.

For development, I would seek out those experienced writers I admire and let them do the pet project they’ve always wanted to do. Some will come back horrendous, most will come back interesting to some degree, and a few may come back extraordinary. All you need is one.

I would not just hire actors and friends of actors to write pilots. Thinking an actor can just sit down and write a decent pilot is like me thinking I could star in BIG BANG THEORY. This attitude that we can just hire writers at some point to fix these amateurish pilots won’t fly with me.

All young writers must have a sample of original material these days. Most write pilots. I would collect all the spec pilots and buy the two best.

I would hire the best of the bunch of find places for them.  You can't stockpile enough great talent.  

When pairing baby writers with established showrunners I would select the veteran who is best suited for the material. I wouldn’t hire showrunners because they happen to have a deal at the studio.

Once a series gets on the air I would trust my creative partners. You run story areas by me and that’s it. The outline does not have to be approved. The draft does not have to be approved. Guest actors do not have to be approved. Neither does wardrobe or set dressing. That’s just nonsense.

Notes during production will be kept to a minimum. And no one will give notes until they’ve proven to me they’re qualified.

Single-camera comedies better be funny. Wry and mildly amusing are no longer good enough.

I bet if I ran MASH reruns on Friday night they would do better than rerunning any sitcom currently on NBC.

I would avoid the temptation to air additional episodes of THE VOICE.  I wouldn't want to burn it out.  Can you say SO YOU WANT TO BE A MILLIONAIRE? kids?

I love Brian Williams, think he’s the best anchor of all the major networks. But I would cancel his primetime show. No one is watching. I don’t care how cheap it is to produce.

I would drop all banners and promos from within the content of shows. They’re distracting, annoying, and completely ineffective.

I would shy away from serialized dramas. Viewers have a tough time jumping aboard in the middle, and current patterns suggest fans of these shows like to binge-watch. They’ll wait until the end of the season and watch the whole year on DVD or Netflix. That does me no good.

I would not get into insane bidding wars over projects. I would not overpay just to be in business with a certain actor or producer. This isn’t baseball. I can win without Albert Pujols. I’ll use my money more wisely.

I would have direct communication with my writer/creators. This idea of a non-writing pod producer acting as a go-between is counter-productive. And if writer/creators have questions I would encourage them to call me directly. I may not get back to them in ten minutes but I will return their calls.  I don't want mid-level executives answering questions based on what they think I'll say.

In some cases, opening titles would be back. 

I would use research as a tool, not a deciding factor.

I would not let Ryan Seacrest near the news or sports departments. 

I would put shows on the air I don’t like but think the general audience will.

I would keep every executive currently there and give them a chance to work with my game plan.  I bet there are some terrifically talented people at NBC and I'd be an idiot to just discard them out of hand.  Not to mention what it would do to morale... and I'm a BIG believer in morale.  

These are some of my ideas for how I would select, develop, and manage shows... in a perfect world.  But that’s only part of the job. Unless you promote your line-up properly and schedule it properly you’re still not going to win. My primary objective would be to WIN. This is not cable. Prestige shows that get no numbers are fine for subscription services. They just want you to be impressed with their slate so you’ll renew every month. Whether you actually watch HOMELAND or GAME OF THRONES is way less important.

That's not the case in the network world. You need ratings. I have a number of promotion and programming ideas that are rather avant garde but I know would WIN. Those however, I’m not just giving out. Those someone will have to pay me for.
I’ll be right here by the phone.


Waiting for your call.

Ready to save your network.

Ready to take you to number one.  

Doesn't have to be NBC.

Could be any network.

Waiting for your call. 

Could be a cable network.  


It doesn’t seem to be ringing.


Bart Smith said...

The problem with cutting SNL back to one less episode a month is that there would then as many reruns of SNL during the season as there are new episodes. The solution may be, not to trim episodes, but to cut the length from 90 minutes to one hour. Then take that 12:30-1:00 and either air a comedy rerun or do a less mainstream 30-minute talk or sketch comedy show.

Brooke McMaster said...

Wow. If only! And WHEN this happens, you'll need someone to make you coffee and read out your twitter feed to you every morning in the office, right? RIGHT?

What annoys me is that execs are not coming from the world of the 'talent' and therefore they're not seeing the cracks that need to be fixed. However, they could be aware but feel they're not in any position to change it greatly. When I download (ahem) US shows to watch here in Australia, the banners drive me absolutely insane, not to mention where they place commercials and how it completely detracts from the story. That's why I enjoy Showtime and HBO shows that have no commercials and let you immerse yourself in the story without distraction. If you watch an MTV show or something on ABC, it's either a watermark or it takes up half the damn screen telling you what's coming up or what song just played. It's unbelievable.

But hey, that's the least of their worries.

Ane said...

Agreed on the banners. And is it just me or do US shows have a commercial break every 5 or 10 minutes? Every time I've downloaded something (Yes, I usually buy it later when it'a available for purchase) there's a black screen at the end of every other or third scene. I would never be able to watch broadcasting that way, once every 15 minutes is plenty, thank you.

Terrence Moss said...

So far I've only read the first part about their November sweeps victory. It was a) in an antiquated demo that the industry holds on to like I hold onto a dollar these days and b) as you said, mainly because of SNF and "The Voice". The former won't be a factor in the spring and the potency of the latter will be affected by the fall edition that NBC foolishly added (I don't care what the numbers portend).

Plus, NBC managed to hit #1 with a 2.8 demo rating. 2.8. 2.8?! Really!? And we crow about THIS?! I certainly wouldn't. Sometimes #1 is not #1. Sometimes it's just tragic for all involved.

As for me and my house, there's not credit to be handed out. It's a hollow victory based on the dependence on one program and the good fortune of already having the other program.

A true victory from my vantage point would spread the success throughout the other nights of the week as what took place in the mid-1980s. Granted, that was driven by Thursday night but there was also success on Saturday nights. Eventually there was success on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

It started off with one show and went from there. I don't see the same thing taking place this time. And for the record, that last demo victory in 2003 was still driven by the primary dependence on ONE show.

Yes, call me an NBC hater. I don't like the Giants or the Lakers either. Sue me.

Robin Raven said...

I vote for a spin-off series named "Diane" starring Shelley Long, of course. :) Why not have a spin-off years later; no rule says it has to be right at the end of the other show. And look how well Frasier came out.

Anyway, great post. :)

Brian said...

How do we start a petition to make this happen?

Mike Botula said...

What a novel concept, Ken. The network that hires you will wind up far in front of the others, it'll look like the return of the "Golden Days of Television."

Kirk said...

In its' first couple years on the air, SNL did run only three times a month. An offbeat magazine show called WEEKEND with Lloyd Dobyns ran the fourth week.

Steve McLean said...

Here's a Friday question on Monday. How common (or helpful, or wanted) is it for an actor to provide the writers with ideas for their character's backstory?

obatherbal99 said...

i sell medicine

indo15 said...

i loved this moment

Geoff G said...


Love the blog. Welcome to season 8!

A thought on SNL. Instead of airing less shows, do an Irving Thalberg. Remember how he put the Marx Bros out on the road to develop new material? Do that with the cast. Buy a theater and have the cast work new material to see what thrives. Then for the broadcast, mix in the developed material with "this just in" material developed to respond to events of the day. If necessary, split the cast into two so an "a" cast can be primarily working on the broadcast show while the "b" cast is primarily working in the new theater. If things go well, let potential new performers and writers work with the theater as a kind of extended tryout. If you charge for tickets, I imagine this new theater could pay for itself, though that's hardly the point.

Would this work? I'd love to know--this is one of those ideas I've had running in my head for years. (I'm glad to say this out loud--but I'd love to see this made into a Friday question.)

Mike Bell said...

Damn you Levine! shakes fist* Now I'm going to have to design a new campaign sticker for you.

AndrewJ said...

I'd have NBC Sports win back MLB Game of the Week rights. Have a BASEBALL NIGHT IN AMERICA on Saturday or Sunday nights during the regular season.

gottacook said...

So much of "the tired lame material" that tends to keep me away from Saturday Night Live involves repeated bits and characters. The show has always depended on this, but when the continuing character is played by, say, Gilda Radner, it can work. So the show can only be refreshed by some combination of fewer continuing bits (i.e., more original skit ideas) and funnier actors.

As for emulating the idea of touring to refine comedy skit material, it should be kept in mind that the (three) Marx Brothers performed five shows a day on those tours - which they did for A Night at the Opera, A Day at the Races, and Go West. The first of these took along the entire main non-Marx cast as well, and was preceded by a MONTH of rehearsals (which I suppose were necessary to get the timing right for such things as the stateroom scene); the last, although Thalberg was long gone, played 103 shows in three midwestern cities. All to develop perhaps 20 minutes of sure-fire material per movie, and only one movie per 12 to 18 months.

(Facts from Google Books' excerpts of Joe Adamson's great 1973 book Groucho, Harpo, Chico and Sometimes Zeppo; I can't find my copy.)

Christopher Finke said...

I've always said that NBC should create new cable channels called NBC-20, NBC-30, and NBC-40, and on them, air exactly what they aired 20, 30, and 40 years ago (on that day, at that time), mixing in new commercials but keeping some of the old ones.

The nostalgia factor would be huge, and the channels would be cheap to run, given that there's no new material to produce, and NBC theoretically already has the rights to air the episodes. Is there a legal reason why they can't do this?

Cap'n Bob said...

Somewhere, a bean counter just crapped his pants. Great ideas, and so logical it's no wonder the Powers That Be missed them.

How about nudity and other mature content? Would you include that?

Eduardo Jencarelli said...

I was nodding in agreement until you proposed to cut back on serialized dramas. I wouldn't even be watching television if it weren't for the likes pf HOMELAND, BOARDWALK EMPIRE, MAD MEN, and BREAKING BAD....

Wait, those examples are all cable-owned. NBC's last serialized show which I've checked out was THE EVENT.

Never mind. Go ahead and cut them.

michael said...

Would you give the same advice to the other networks?

What would you change about Fox who can't develop a comedy? What would you change about ABC who can't get men to watch even its women hating shows? What would you change about CBS?

Richard Y said...

RE: Banners. It is not only prime time using them it is the local and national news as well. How many times is the banner at the bottom (who the person is that is talking - location of incident - or what ever else they feel is important) taking up so much space you can't tell what the newscaster is talking about because it is at the bottom of the screen as the cameraman has centered the subject matter. Can't see the tornado touching down because we have to see the newscasters name, etc.

Stephen Robinson said...

KEN: I appreciate how your ideas are structural -- often when someone wants to turn around a company, they think firing everyone is the answer or simply copying everything that used to work: "Let's get another COSBY, SEINFELD, or CHEERS."

I do think that programming has focused more on niche hits. I recall interviewing Brandon Tartikoff in college (fortunately, I was aware even then of how great an experience that was) and he commented on his irritation with demographic mining ("This is a hit with this group...") as opposed to finding shows that appeal to everyone.

Although I am a big SEINFELD fan, one could argue that the demographic mining started there and continued with FRIENDS and now with HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER and so on. I remember sitting down with my family to watch COSBY and even CHEERS (and I bet the same was true of MASH when it was on the air).

Perhaps the reality of so many viewing options make this difficult but I remember when Sherman Hemsley died -- so many people had fond memories of the character of George Jefferson (white, black, rich, poor, urban, rural, gay, straight, and so on). The same will be true of Sam Malone and Cliff Huxtable. Liz Lemon? Probably not.

BART -- I agree about reducing SNL's show length. I should clarify that I haven't watched the show in years (grew up on the Carvey/Hartman years and was alienated by the Sandler/Spade years), but even when I watched it every Saturday night, I thought the final half hour dragged. Yes, there was an occasionally brilliant bit dumped in the final five minutes but there was also more than often dross in the first hour that could be cut. Whenever I've watched repeats of SNL that were cut to an hour, I never thought, "Man I miss (CUT SKETCH X)." I'd also cut the musical guest to one performance. And book better hosts. When Buck Henry or Steve Martin would guest host, they weren't always plugging a new movie. I like when the host is almost an "unofficial" cast member (like Martin and Henry were) rather than a someone so obviously uncomfortable either A) in front of a live audience or B) doing comedy or C) both.

GOTTACOOK: I recall reading that SNL repeats recurring characters/sketches far more than it did originally. Some of the classics (say, The Wild and Crazy Guys) appeared in total less than some modern recurring characters/sketches appear in a season. I also think (GUEST HOST MEETS RECURRING SKETCH/CHARACTER) is lazy.

VincentS said...

Sounds like you've given this a lot of thought, Ken. Seriously, I hope some network bigwig reads this blog and gives you a shot the way they let David Putnam run Columbia way back. Incidentally, last night I saw a promo for 1600 PENN. Is this NBC's attempt to get back the WING-nuts?

Rob Greenberg said...

Finally, give up on that Thursday comedy block. It's like a guy refusing to date because he can't let go after his long-deceased wife.

Unless CBS expands, there's still opportunity at 9, but not with the post-Carell 'Office' (which is like 'I Love Lucy' with just Ricky, Fred and Ethel). 8:00, however, is a lost cause.

No, wait, I've forgotten about season 4 of 'Community!' Nevermind... my mistake!

Mike said...

Why cut Whitney? Sounds like hypocrisy on your part who likes to complain about network censors and FCC censors.

bettyd said...

I was just on reading an excerpt from Alan Sepinwall’s new TV book. He is describing how Lost was created. Interesting read, and of course goes along with your take here today.

Mike said...

Simpsons made fun of Saturday Night Live way back in its 3rd season with a clip of Krusty guest hosting in a skit about The Big Ear Family,'this goes on for twelve more minutes.' That is the early 90s.

Mac said...

"Single-camera comedies better be funny. Wry and mildly amusing are no longer good enough."

Amen. The UK is currently infested with "Comedy-Dramas" that are neither comedic or dramatic. They should more accurately be called "Light-hearted Soaps."

Eduardo Jencarelli said...


Have you written any blog posts regarding child/young TV stars on set?

First we had the recent custody trial involving the 14 year old MODERN FAMILY actress and her controlling stage mother, and now we have the former kid from TWO AND A HALF MEN going 150% religious, while telling viewers to stop watching the show.

There's a whole can of worms when it comes to young stars. Seems to me like good material to be mined for future blog posts.

Unknown said...

Would you consider an open submission process or would Legal shoot that down for fear of too many lawsuits?

januaryfire said...

my two cents: hate, hate, hate the banners. But, I do appreciate a subtle, small, unobtrusive watermark that lets me know what network it's from. Sometimes I forget where a good show came from and want to find it again with the least amount of trouble, so that little reminder as I'm watching is helpful. as long as it's not moving, or flashings, or in crazy colors, or big.

Pamela Jaye said...

Lower thirds -- I love them. I used to want to put them up a lot. But yes! The other night ABC news decided to caption someone and you couldn't read the caption case the lower third (banner) was on top on it.
The shoe's rating is on top of someone's face while they are talking, the promos... well at least they don't have sound, I don't think, as they did on FX as far back as 2002 or 03 when many Buffy fans vowed to Never Watch The Shield. And I never did.
I can live with commercial breaks but the banners, promos, and especially lower thirds are just insane.

jbryant said...

Not being a sports fan, it took me five full minutes to figure out what "SNF" referred to. First I thought it was a typo for "SNL," then I wondered if I had missed a new series based on "Saturday Night Fever," or something called "Single Nude Female."

Speaking of SNL, no one's figured out how to make the show consistent in 37 years; maybe it simply can't be done.

BigTed said...

Ken, I have a prediction I'd like to run by you: The major destructive power of DVRs, from a network's point of view, isn't time shifting or skipping commercials -- it's the ability to fast-forward during a program. I find myself skipping over any part of a show that seems the least bit slow, dull or unfunny. I started doing it with shows I don't care for that much, but now I even do it with shows I mostly like. Add to this the fact that, like most people, I've seen so many comedies and dramas in my lifetime (and so few of them offer anything truly original) that I can easily fill in any plot points I may have missed.

Now I watch Letterman's Top 10 List and any guests I like, and skip over the rest. Every new episode of "SNL" becomes a half-hour highlights reel, which never includes those annoying repeat characters. The time-consuming foot chases on detective shows? Gone. (Just have somebody cover the back window already!) Sitcom romance scenes between characters who are supposed to be Sam and Diane but aren't? See ya!

If this sounds like I'm stomping over all the creators' hard work, well, it is, and I'm sorry. But I only have a certain amount of TV-watching time, and thee are a lot of channels. And I'm guessing this is something that everybody's doing more and more.

So what does this mean for the future of television?

Pamela Jaye said...

Watermarks, bugs -- recently I was thrilled with the newish Show Hashtags. Found out I was not only in the wrong timeslot but on the wrong network for the show I'd meant to watch. #Showtitle was very helpful (and unintrusive too)

And now I have to keep my eye in my autocorrect. Previous post: cause and show's

benson said...

Fascinating post and discussion today.

A couple of things to add.

Big Ted, you are so right. The society, for whatever reason, has become both ADD and time conscious. It's not just younger people, but all of us.

A point about SNL. Remember SNL was always aimed at 18 yr olds. I venture to say a big reason many don't find the show funny anymore is that we got older. (Obviously, not the complete reason, and they still do some funny stuff)

Howard Hoffman said...

I've always been a huge believer in turning writing creative types loose on creating their dream series. Back in 1994, Cartoon Network solicited 35 cartoon shorts from both new and veteran animators and writers. They did this for two consecutive seasons, and they found gold. Among the series that came from the "What A Cartoon" project were Powerpuff Girls, Dexter's Laboratory, Courage the Cowardly Dog (even if they didn't bring me back after I voiced that pilot), Johnny Bravo and more. Also in the mix was a toon called "Larry and Steve" which was a prototype by Seth MacFarlane of what was to become Family Guy.

Networks can order whatever derivative of an existing hit they want...but the network that encourages new talent and new thinking will be the one that'll win my eyeballs.

C'mon! Ring that phone already! Ken's standing by.

Dave Creek said...

Woo hoo! No banners or in-show promos! You won me over right there!

And thank goodness, no serialized shows. The awful endings of shows I otherwise liked (LOST, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA) turned me off them.

And although many of my favorite shows have been dark (THE SHIELD, X-FILES, L&O SVU), I've had enough of dark. How about a buddy show with two people (of any age, gender, or race) having adventures that wrap up in a single episode. (Also realize that if the networks went too far in that direction, I'd be ready for dark shows again. I'm not against a particular mood for a show, just want to see some variation.)

Joey H said...

As a St. Louis Cardinals fan, I can say that we've discovered that you CAN win (at least go a long way) without Pujols, even in baseball.

Hedley Lamarr said...

Friday question!

I'm a development assistant at one of the big 4 networks. Among my "privileges" is hearing the execs tear into single camera comedies during notes calls, all based off an attempted interpretation of which jokes play funny. Do you think that working in front of a live audience protected you from some of the more ridiculous network interference? Would shifting to live multicam help improve the quality of today's sitcoms?

Breadbaker said...

To me, the banner thing is an indication of the victory of obnoxious marketing people over customers: people hate them whether they are in fact effective or not. And a network that said, "we are getting ride of them because our viewers are annoyed by them" would win a lot of loyalty. Would I watch all their shows? No, but I'd check out more of them.

Joe Styke said...

Did you disable full feeds?

Please re-enable them!

People are not complaining about them: Good.

But I really do care!

jeremypirtle said...

lets do another similiar question. What would do if you were the CEO of Clear Channel radio or any BIG radio company?

Jeremy Pirtle

Hannah Neil said...

Dear Ken,

i would love to work on this network!

I have two friday questions for you:

1) Are there any writers who became network executives that you know of? This would be really interesting...

2) What do you think about "The Mindy Project" and "New Girl"? I love Mindy Kaling, but i think it's pretty much, as you mentioned "Wry and mildly amusing" instead of really funny. Same with "New Girl". The jokes aren't very strong. I know they don't have an audience that they can "test" their material on, but HIMYM doesn't have one either and they do fine, at least till this years season... what's your opinion on this? Do you even watch these shows?

Thanks for 7 years of awesomeness!


Pamela Jaye said...

Okay, I thought it was a typo too. What is SNF?

cadavra said...

One more thing I would do: If a competing network cancelled a quality show prematurely, I'd call up the producers and say, "Don't strike the sets! You're moving to a better network!"

WV: "Sacoff"--......there's a vasectomy joke in there somewhere.

By Ken Levine said...


They were disabled purposely for reasons of my own. Sorry for any inconvenience but this will now be the norm. Just click on the link and it takes you right to the blog. I hope you'll continue to be a reader. Thanks.


Scriptwrecked said...

Pamela, SNF is Sunday Night Football.

Ken, isn't it a bit hypocritical to say you'd develop the 2 best pilot samples and then say you'd do away with serial dramas? What if one of the best samples about if a serial drama.

Johnny Walker said...

"I would put shows on the air I don’t like but think the general audience will."

Isn't this the route of all programming evil, though? It would be irresponsible to only put your favourite shows on the air, of course, but surely your taste counts for something? Whenever I've seen someone try to guess someone else's tastes, they always seem to get it wrong.

Network Executive #2 said...

Hey Kenny Boy! Long time no speak. Sorry for not returning your calls. My assistant tells me you've written up some tips for how we execs should be running the show. I'm getting him to read them for me, and then condense them into a format I'll read later. Before I get around to reading what you've written (by way of my assistant) Let me be the first to say, "Wow! Amazing ideas! You are absolutely right, and we're already in the process of putting your recommendations into action". (I'm so confident in your abilities that I already know that I'm going to love your ideas.) I didn't get into this position without having a keen eye for talent, and knowing all about up-and-coming writers like yourself. (You're on my radar kid, don't think you're not!)

Your movie idea may not have worked out for us in the end, but I still think it was perfect, and am sure we'll be working together soon.

PS - That BioShock thing was just what we're looking for at the moment (although we already have something similar on our books). Keep at it and I'm sure you can move up from blogging in no time.

Network Executive #2 said...

Ok, my assistant tells me you're not so hot on audience testing. I have to ask, are you aware of our new Funny-o-Meters? They're high-tech personalised dials that allow audience members to each rate a joke's efficacy to within one "yuksec" (our network's metric for laughter).

I can already tell I'm changing your mind, so don't worry if you're feeling a little foolish. Audience rating technology has come a long way since the old "pen and paper" days. (Did you know all our questionnaires are done on iPads now?)

It's technology line this that allows us to discover network gems like WHITNEY.

Network Executive #2 said...

My assistant tells me you don't like WHITNEY, either. I'm beginning to wonder if we're actually on the same page after all. (Did you know that show consistently performs in the 90th percentile for yuksecs? Thought not. Those are numbers you can't fake!)

Dont worry too much, I'll take into account your greenness when I read the rest of your ideas.

Speaking of which, I'm not a huge fan of reading. If you could condense the rest of your ideas into a single word, what would it be? (Send that word to my assistant and I'll get back to you when I've had a chance to read it -- hopefully by next week.)

Keep up the hilarious blog, you're making a name for yourself, trust me. I'm sure we'll be working together soon.

NE#2 Assistant said...

Unfortunately we don't have a place for you in our organisation at this time. Your name has been added to our books, and we'll keep you in mind for any future positions.

We wish you all the best for the future.

PS - I have just been asked to pass along a tip: "Try using less words!"

PPS - Sorry.

Mike said...

BigTed, I do the same DVR forwarding, and often watch movies in one hour or less.

The solution is better writing. I found I would watch all of The Unit, and realized later on this blog that the reason is the writing quality. Ken posted a memo from David Mamet on how to write, and he is involved with that show. Looks like they canceled its sequel, Last Resort.

Halloween Jack said...

I'd suggest tightening SNL down to an hour and getting rid of the "live" part, although still taping it in front of a live audience. I realize that the latter is probably heresy to Lorne Michaels, but there simply isn't the same highwire-without-a-net thrill that there used to be at the thought of someone dropping the F-bomb or their pants falling down or whatever.

Not a lot of people know this, but the show that you see is actually the second run-through of the show that night--the first has all of the material that the live one does, plus a sketch or two that ends up getting cut for time, so it's not super-spontaneous anyway; there's that one last final fine-tuning. (I've read that some of Dan Aykroyd's classic manic bits, such as "Bass-O-Matic", are actually pale imitations of the original run-throughs, since he'd ablated much of his frenetic (and no doubt at least partially cocaine-fueled) energy by the time of the broadcast.) Some of the more popular bits, such as Andy Samberg's music videos, are prerecorded anyway. I think that it helped MADtv survive as long as it did against SNL, even though the latter show had many more celebrity guests and musical stars.

Unknown said...

And just when you thought CNN's programming couldn't get worse, they go out and negotiate to get Jeff Zucker...,0,3937840.story

I can just see it now, Wolf Blitzer, in skinny jeans and using text language speak and emoticons to present the news.

Then again, it could be an improvement from what they already have. OR they could bring back the Will.I.Am hologram.

Greg Ehrbar said...

To quote Truly Scrumptious: "It's a beautiful dream, Caractacus..."

Did you deliberately choose a photo in which Ryan Seacrest just popped out of Billy Mumy's jack-in-the-box on The Twilight Zone?

Joe S. said...

If I were put in charge of NBC, the first thing I'd do is figure out a business model for time-shifted/internet/on-demand viewing as a primary viewing source. I'm 28, work in the industry, and thanks to Tivo, Hulu, Netflix and Amazon, I haven't watched anything when it aired in years (with the exception of certain live events like major news events including the latest election results.)

The new media companies (Google, Facebook, et al) aren't there yet... the recognizable TV networks still have the best shot of creating the best content on-demand.

Ger Apeldoorn said...

So basicly you are saying you would let content matter again... man, you are so out of touch with this generation!

Anonymous said...

Why do you think WHITNEY CUMMINGS even got her show on the air, and at two networks? What did SHE do that was so significant? Is it WHO she knows, or WHAT was created as content, did she have a SHOW BIBLE, or just a hard working team?

Anonymous said...

Bring back the Rockford Files! Oh yeah I forgot. Hell the writing on tv is so bad these days why not take some old Rockford files and just update them. Is that allowed? A detective show with humor on tv. I miss them!

Sam Spade

Unknown said...

More, better sitcoms, less serials, less news, less Whitney... I wish you were running a network.