Friday, December 12, 2008

100th post woohoo/NBC installing Leno at 10pm

First, this is my 100th post, so woohoo! Get the party poppers, hats, and cake and do a little dance.

Okay, now that's out of the way, I want to discuss NBC cutting original scripted programming at 10pm and replacing it with 5 days of JAY LENO! This has caused an uproar within the creative community because it means 5 less hours of programming for writers, directors, and producers. Instead, the less expensive tonight show will take it's place, much like the news on the CW and FOX.

I for one, agree with Steven Bochco's assessment of the situation. He believes that network drama is awful for the most part. As my mother would say, if you can't play nice, you don't deserve the toys. What I mean is, if showrunners can't put good shows on television, why should a network put on their half-assed dramas? They have a perfectly marketable commodity in Jay Leno, who is being pushed out of his slot, and would likely find a home at a rival network. So, instead of giving a golden goose to the competition, they keep it in house, cut down their programming, and bring in a rather inexpensive show to take it's place. After all, NBC is used to pull an 8 share, is down to a 3 share this season and needs to make drastic changes. 10 hours of programming is still a lot of hours to fill. Just ask CW and FOX.

I really do prefer the cable model. Most networks only program original programming 1-3 days a week, showing re-runs the rest of the week. The shows are good, fresh, and draw 5 shares, higher than gossip girl, for a new show like Leverage. While it's not as high as an NBC show, everyone needs to realize how television now works, and adapt to it. I would never consciously produce a show for networks. I would be more than happy to land on the Sundance channel with a quirky Slings and Arrows type show.

Now, as a wannabe tv producer, it kind of screws me over, but that is what adaptation is all about. We as producers now need to look towards foreign markets, online, direct to video distribution, and other outlets. Does it suck for jobs? Yes. Is it at an awful time in our economy? Yes. As Bochco said, good shows will always find an audience. Of course, Cupid, Arrested Development, Pushing Daisies, Freaks and Geeks, and so on down the line, would take exception to that. And yes, some of this is on the networks for putting on Cashmere Mafia, Lipstick Jungle, Valentine, and Easy Money, but if you are an aspiring producer, you should blame the executive producers who are putting on such awful shows in the first place. If they don't find an audience, what do you expect a network to do? Jay is a proven commodity...Hell, I'll gladly watch. In fact, I'm looking forward to it. Survival of the fittest, what are you willing to do to survive?

I hate research

Unfortunately, I'm good at it. That doesn't make me like it any more. But, since I have some expected time off, and I'm sans scripts to write, it's been two weeks of research: btwn NATPE, a new script research (right now I'm leaning to a shakespeare every other human on earth), and English language market research (Australia, Britain, Canada...sorry, Belize) it's been busy couple weeks. And I wanted to give you a few tidbits about what I've gleaned. I should mention, my research was only so complete because finding information about shows in other countries is rough, and watching those shows on youtube is sometimes impossible. So, if you live in these countries and want to add to the research, I'd be happy to update the findings.

Other English language countries aren't big fans of legal shows.

Outside of Billable Hours in Canada, I didn't find many successful legal shows anywhere in the English speaking world. And, since the name of our game is ability to source shows to multiple countries, developing a legal show is not advisable in the current climate.

Everyone loves crime/police shows.

For as much as I had trouble finding legal shows, crime shows were EVERYWHERE. However, unlike America which has "dramedy" cop shows like Monk and Psych, almost all, if not all, of foreign police dramas are straight drama, no comedy. It's a bummer, and there may be a niche to fill, but the good news is that crime dramas are alive and well anywhere. Of course, we all know Hustle IS a dramedy show about a group of con-men...however, not a police station, CoW show, and definitely not a show that I have seen in either Canada or Australia.

The "dialect" barrier is not as pronounced as one would assume.

Outside of a few british shows that utilized some cockney expressions, every show I researched used the same general dialect as we do in the states. Now, that doesn't mean you should make a show about a surfer dude, that just won't translate. But, if you are planning on marketing a show to multiple countries, and you use standard english, not slang, you should be able to market your show to a wide range of english speaking countries.

Though it goes against common sense, almost every sitcom is single camera.

One would assume that since multi-camera sitcoms are the most inexpensive shows to produce, a researcher would see them in places like Australia and Canada. However, the opposite is true. In fact, through my research I only saw a handful of multi-camera comedies, most of which were re-runs on BBC. This particular fact was the biggest surprise to me.

British shows is crazy!

If I'm going to create a show straight for a specific country, it's going to be Britain. Not only do they have a crazy show that's shot solely from the character's POV, but they also have a sitcom about a group of housewives who are in two rival gangs. Of all the countries I found, the most zany, fun, and overall creative shows were on British TV.

The next post, I'll put together some of my favorite specific shows from each country. Now, back to the grind!