If only I'd thought of that sooner, it would be an excellent blog name. We finally turned our pilot outline in to the studio this week so I have time between the studio reading it and giving notes to catch up on the blog. The next step will be turning the outline in to the network and then, hopefully, being sent off to write. We'll probably have to turn in a draft before Thanksgiving. That seems like miles away but by the time we get to start writing, we'll have a week to write the script. I hate that. We can write it in a week, but it's nice to have time to write more than one draft before the producers give us notes.
Anyway, writing outlines SUCKS. You can't imagine. The outline has to have everything in it, but it shouldn't be more than twelve pages. And it's hard to construct the scenes for an outline because you usually find these scenes in dialogue. Outlines are awful and it's definitely the worst part of the process for us. Most writers like breaking the story and don't like writing the script. We're the opposite. Give me a script to write and I'm happy. That's when the characters really make their appearances. Of course, all of our coy, clever references will be removed by the time the thing goes into the network! But since this is OUR show, we'll hopefully have a little more latitude with the voice of the pilot. Because it SHOULD be our voice. On that subject, you may have been following the disaster that has become NBC. Chairman Jeff Zucker has clearly gone insane with his comments about the eight o'clock hour becoming all reality and NBC avoiding sitcoms. When a network is struggling, they'll employ virtually any way to right the sinking ship. This is from Defamer:
"I wrote some nasty emails to NBC about the quality of their TV dramas, and they signed me up for near-weekly TV Viewing surveys, yay! The last one I received seems to indicate that NBC/Universal is *really* sweating Studio 60, if their survey questions are any indication. They ask you to rate the show. Then they have you type a paragraph justifying your rating. Then they actually put promo-pics of the 12 main characters and have you rate what you think of each one of them...on the next page they ask you why you gave certain actors certain ratings. They *then* ask about interactions between certain characters and what you thought of those. I may be an unemployed English major, but even I can see the writing on the wall here."
So basically, NBC is asking people who think their dramas suck to give story notes to Aaron Sorkin. I don't care who you are -- if you aren't in the business, you ought not be asked to give Aaron Sorkin notes on his show. This is an appalling development. You can translate this to other industries -- hey, that lawyer doesn't seem to be doing a good job. Let me tell him what he's doing wrong, even though I don't know how the legal process works and I don't have the experience to be able to give him an informed opinion. But it's different for TeeVee, right? Because everybody watches TeeVee. People have likes and dislikes. So that makes their opinions informed, doesn't it?
No. It doesn't. You are still a TeeVee viewer, not a writer or even an executive. You do NOT know how the process of writing and producing TeeVee works. Ergo, you should not be solicited for your opinion. This mentality is evident in other aspects of society. People won't vote for a politician. They will vote for an actor, because actually being proficient at politics is considered a detriment. I'm sorry, but that seems weird to me. But that's exactly what's happening with this NBC thing. You may not like Studio 60, but given the chance, you will not do a better job than Aaron Sorkin. That's just the way it is. I'm not defending Studio 60, because although I am for some reason watching it, I won't call it good. Actually, last Monday's episode was the first one I genuinely liked. As a viewer, I can say the show sucks and I can stop watching it. That should the viewer's only power. Involving them in the creative process is not going to help fix the system. It's going to make things worse. You think there aren't already enough cooks involved? Hey, let's get the singular opinions of millions of people. THAT'LL help fix things.
If I were Aaron Sorkin, I would tell NBC where to stick it.
Here's the absolute simplest way I can describe the problem. There are too many damned people with input, and the people with final say are the wrong people. Audience testing used to be an aid, but now it's the only thing that matters. Shows that networks HATE get on because they inexplicably test well. Too much power is given to marketing departments. You want to blame someone for the sad, sorry state of network TeeVee? Blame the marketing people. They should be given shows to market, not pick out shows they think they can market. Hey, marketing people? Marketing and promoting the shows is your JOB. If you whine that you don't know how to promote a show, then you should be fired, not catered to. Seriously, you're just saying you're incompetent!! The networks seem to be actively avoiding the one thing that might help make the shows better -- trusting the people making the shows. They'll go out of their damned way to solicit advice and notes from ANYONE but the WRITERS. Does this seem weird to anyone else??
I have more TeeVee to rant about but if I continue in this post, this thing'll turn into Wonder Boys. I'll try to post the next rant a lot sooner. NBC, you make me tired.
I also want to post about music. I think I mentioned Rolling Stones 500 best songs ever list. Because it seemed insane that they would ignore entire decades and whole movements (Britpop? What's that?), I decided to try and make my own list, just to see how hard it is. When I have the list beaten into some kind of shape, I'll post it. And then y'all can argue about how insane I am for not including your favorite song. Which will actually be fun, because if I've missed anything, I want to know.
Have a smashing Wednesday, gentle readers.
np -- Mando Diao, "Ode to Ochrasy." I freakin' LOVE Mando Diao.