Not the end of the blog... just as we know it. This blog came to be because I wanted to follow what promised to be an exciting pilot development process. The process was supposed to go at least until the end of January, when most networks have made their pick-ups. It's not to be. We were given an official pass (our first in five pilots) on -- you can't make this shit up -- my birthday. Networks generally don't give official passes to pilots they like because God forbid you should sell it somewhere else. So this tells you how the network feels about the pilot. Were they wrong to pass on it? Well... sort of. What seems to be happening now is that networks simply don't have the time to devote to projects. In other words, they don't have time to give you notes because the development process was so late this year. Just to give you an example of the timetable -- we turned our pilot in to the studio on December 15th. We got studio notes the following Monday. The script went into the studio on Wednesday. Our notes call, scheduled for Thursday, became the pass.
What's happened in the past is, you do a few rounds with the studio and the network and you're done before the holidays. But everything was months late this year. After getting the studio notes, it was officially obvious that the script needed a lot more work, but there wasn't any time for that. This is not unique to our project. Everybody is in this boat. Networks have to read 25 scripts over a weekend and make decisions based on that. How impossible is that? You try reading 25 projects over a weekend and see how detailed you can get when you have notes calls scheduled all day the following Monday. This is not a good way to do business, but this is what happened this year. So projects that would have been shepherded a little more, got the pass. What we were told (by our producer -- we didn't talk to the network) is that the network didn't think we could turn it around in time for it to be in the mix. Because the next step is, the network takes their strongest projects and those go on to the network president.
We're accustomed to having our scripts make it to that stage and then continue on until they choose the other one to shoot. So it was sensible to think that with a project as strong as this one, as perfect for its network, championed by two strong producers, we'd at LEAST make it to that stage. Well.
So back to the question: was the network wrong to pass? Yes, in the sense that we weren't given the chance to rectify things. And no, in the sense that the script was not good. I don't think we disagreed with a studio or a network note throughout the entire process. What we delivered was a compromise, not a vision. And that's the tightrope that you walk in this business. Because we admire the people with strong visions and voices -- Joss Whedon, Rob Thomas, Ron Moore, Amy Sherman-Palladino. When you wind up being strangled by that tightrope, you look at people like this and think, How the HELL did they do it??? How did they manage to navigate these shark-infested waters and keep their integrity intact? How could they fight and not be slapped down for it? That's the kismet of television. Sometimes all the planets align and a creative visionary is given his or her head. That's when we get truly great television. The rest of the time, we all struggle and produce the ghostly shell of what was in our minds.
But for those moments when you're really onto something, when you get to create exactly what you want to... that's why we put up with the other crap. I've had that pleasure on three episodes of TeeVee, which is three episodes more than most writers get. It's always an attempt to duplicate that. I don't know if it will ever happen again, but you can't stop trying. It's a lot like winning the Kentucky Derby. Once you get the fever, you can't stop trying, even if the longing goes on for decades. It's the pinnacle of the industry, just like really personal work is for TeeVee. Of course, nobody saw the damned things, but that's another story.
Our pilots have always been about our voice. It's the one thing that, IMO, a pilot needs to survive. It was rather fascinating to watch that being sucked out of this pilot. And for the past several weeks, we've seen the writing on the wall. I wanted to be wrong -- totally and utterly wrong. But in the end, it turned out the way we feared it would. And we're not alone -- this is going to be the story of 90% of the pilots written this year.
But there will still be things to blog about. My writing partner and I were accepted into the WGA Showrunner's Program (don't tell them we don't have a pilot anymore!), which starts this week and runs for six Saturdays. So I'll talk about that. And we're going to write our pilot the way we wanted to write it. No influences. Just us. We're gonna crank through it and hopefully show the network and the studio what OUR vision was. We want them to see that this IS a show and that we can follow up a great pitch with a great script. And, erm, we need a writing sample for next staffing season.
Next blog, which will come a lot sooner because we're not at anyone's beck and call right now, I'll talk about music and why I hated Brick.