Trying that short post thingy, because this merited a mention.
The appropriately named Marc Graboff, co-chair of NBC (snort. Co-chair. Really? Does this mean he's only co-out of touch?), claimed that the mass firings that took place Friday and Monday at the network is actually supposed to help writers. According to him, writers are being "noted to death by our executives" because of the current structure.
Seriously? That's his reason? He probably didn't even know about development executives and notes and whatnot, but now he's only thinking of us. Sweet, right?
What he's done, see, is decide to merge the studio and the network. This might if the show in question is NBC for NBC. But what if it isn't? What if it's NBC for USA? Or NBC for Sci-Fi? Are you going to fire all those executives, too? And what about other studios selling product to NBC? Exactly who the fuck are they supposed to sell to? The studio? How will that work, exactly, when technically, no other studios have eaten their networks? Are you really going to ask an NBC Uni exec to take development meetings as a studio and a network executive, and give notes on current product as a studio and a network executive? You are REALLY going to ask one person to do four jobs? And somehow, that is streamlining? That's going to work?
Yes, there are too many executives giving too many notes. A show should really only get one set of notes from the studio and one from the network. But you don't have to fire all of the executives to streamline the notes process. And as far as development goes, that process only gets truly fucked up when it comes down to a decision about what pilots to shoot and what shows to put on the air. And Development Exec A does not make that decision.
The studio's job is to support and protect the show and their investment. Or that was the studio's job in the past. But recently, studios have been taking more and more power. Now, when a studio disagrees with the network about the direction of a show, the show suffers. Studios don't protect shows anymore. What this weird, apocalyptic merger does is effectively take any semblance of protection away from a show. Now, shows will be out in the cold, on their own, as the studio eats its own tail as it tries to be both producer and network.
How, exactly, is that good for programming? How is that going to lead to better shows, when there are no advocates for the shows, only creaky monoliths crammed with bottom-liners who know nothing about production or how to make a TeeVee show that actually fucking WORKS on a creative level?
To add insult to injury, NBC's infinite jester Jeff Zucker has given the 10PM slot to Jay Leno. That's 10PM five nights a week. That's five hours of programming gone. That's maybe twenty pilot scripts gone. Only Keith Olbermann, much to my disappointment, seems to think this is a genius move. Talk to some TeeVee writers. Some showrunners. Ask them what THEY think. I'll bet they won't be singing Zucker's praises. Talk to the viewing audience, who wants good TeeVee but isn't getting it from NBC. Zucker said they're not looking to compete with CSI. Well, duh. They weren't looking to compete with CSI when they had drama shows on. All they care about is that Leno is cheaper than any scripted show. But hey, so was "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire," and ABC drove that wagon into a ditch.
And, by the way, Zucker and Silverman have now thrown all the development money they've paid out right down the toilet. All those people who sold projects to NBC have already delivered scripts, which means they've been paid. And all of those projects are now fucking dead. Anyone who sold a project to NBC is totally screwed. Happy holidays.
The only hope here is that the other networks look at NBC, smile, shake their heads, and go back to work trying to develop and produce something decent. I hope every other network has a giant-ass hit next season. I hope their midseason shows work. I even hope CBS has another procedural hit. Anything, ANYTHING, to make NBC regret that decision and to at least make the executives who were just shitcanned a little less miserable.
Deep down, we all know that these big companies care only about the bottom line. But there's always a way to ignore that, to just focus on the creative end of things and tell ourselves that it DOES matter. And one of the ways we do that is by dealing with these executives. These are the people who can get excited about what you're pitching. I don't know about you, but I don't want to walk into NBC and pitch to HAL-9000 (oh, it's coming. You just wait). I want to pitch to people who have actually read scripts before. But now, NBC has essentially said that they're not going to pretend anymore. They won't even strive for quality. It doesn't matter.
Marc Graboff claims that this is all about the writers, and then he takes ten o'clock away from us. And Ben Silverman went skiing while NBC burned.