Coming from a family chock full of writers and journalists means we all know how to give a good quote to a reporter. My Uncle Stan Barer, a University of Washington regent, was asked by the Seattle Post Intelligencer to comment on the severe funding cutbacks the university is facing from the state.
Insulting your viewers probably isn't the best way to get them to watch your show. But that didn't stop HEROES showrunner Tim Kring from laying the blame for the ratings decline of his show on serialized storylines and the limited intelligence of his audience.
The engine that drove [serialized TV] was you had to be in front of the TV [when it aired]. Now you can watch it when you want, where you want, how you want to watch it, and almost all of those ways are superior to watching it on air. So [watching it] on air is related to the saps and the dipshits who can't figure out how to watch it in a superior way."
A superior way? Why is it "superior" to watch the show on your iPod or your computer instead of on TV? Isn't it a TV show? How does the medium you choose to watch HEROES with make the stories and characters any more or less compelling?
Yes, you can blame technology for siphoning all the smart viewers away from your series. You could try revamping your show so that it becomes the complete opposite of what it was conceived as. Or you could try, you know, not sucking. A story arc or two that doesn't inspire ridicule could go a long way with the saps and dips***s, is all I'm saying. […]Whatever problems Heroes has, the fault lies not in its DVRs but in itself.
UPDATE 11-25-08: Poniewozik reports that Kring has apologized for his comments in an open letter to fans, which reads in part:
I was making the point that these platforms now offer a superior way to watch the show (without commercials, with extra content, commentary, at the audience's convenience, etc.) … It was a boneheaded attempt at being cute and making a point. Instead, it turned out to be just plain insulting and stupid. I know now how it sounded, but I truly never meant to suggest anything bad about our audience.
Here’s an unaired pilot for a proposed “Batgirl” spin-off from BATMAN.
Writer Joel Stein was working out at the gym when he was approached by producer Max Mutchnick (of WILL & GRACE) to audition for the starring role in an ABC sitcom pilot. The problem was, Joel wasn't an actor and had never acted before.
Max insisted I come in, and even though I was well aware that I cannot act, I agreed. As soon as he sent me the script, I started figuring out how to deal with my upcoming money and fame. Within minutes, I pictured myself usurping Max's authority and threatening to leave the show unless they made the writing darker and artsier. This was despite the fact that the script was way better than anything I've ever written, none of which is at all dark and artsy.
He did the audition but didn't get the part.
The part wound up going to Josh Cooke, who had the advantage of being an actor. And ABC didn't wind up putting it on the air anyway. But I still needed to find out how I did, so I called Max. "You're too cerebral," he said. "You thought about what you were doing. Actors are dumb for a reason. They don't think, they just be. It's like when you make love. You just have to do it." It's as if Max has been secretly talking to my wife.
Stein's story reminded me of the time I also was approached to act in a pilot…though I didn't know at first I was expected to perform in a part. Let me explain…
Five years ago, a friend of mine at TVLand called me up to say they were doing a talkshow pilot called TV KITSCHEN starring Martin Mull & Fred Willard, who were brilliant in the classic talkshow spoof FERNWOOD 2 NIGHT. My friend wanted me to be a guest and to talk about one of the worst unsold pilots ever. And if the series went, my "unsold pilot" report would be a regular feature.
"The challenge for me is balancing the business side of my career with the creative side. There doesn't seem to be enough time to ever get caught up!"
"I'm really fortunate that a lot of my creative dreams have come true already. There have been many moments in my career when I have thought OK, I CAN DIE NOW! "
That has been so true for me and for my brother Tod, with whom I've enjoyed many of those "dream come true moments" chatting together with one of our literary idols. I'm so glad that it's happening for Linda, too.
I loved this line in the LA Times review of 24:
"Meanwhile, back in the states, a senator so vile that he is played by Jon Voight is funding the rebels."
Speaking of 24, it's amazing to me how many former showrunners they have working under Howard Gordon in their producing ranks, which includes Steve Kronish (THE COMMISH), Brannon Braga (STAR TREK), Evan Katz (THREE), Manny Coto (ODYSSEY FIVE) and Alex Gansa (DAWSON'S CREEK), who is Howards former writer partner from their days on BEAUTY & THE BEAST and X-FILES. It just shows how hard it is to find a job in TV these days that Howard could get such an A-list roster of talent.
Sorry I have been largely absent from the blog this week…I've been concentrating most of my energy on researching my next MONK book and writing the "sample" chapters of a stand-alone crime novel.
Variety reports that Guillermo Del Toro and Christopher McQuarrie are teaming up to write United Artists' movie version of the 1960s UK series THE CHAMPIONS, which starred Stuart Damon as one of three spies who develop super powers after crashlanding in the Himalayas and being rescued by a secret civilization. Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner will produce.
I get a lot of interview requests from students doing papers and reports. I usually answer their questions. But this request, which came on Tuesday night, was an exception:
writing a report on Science Fiction Novelists. I would really appreciate it if you responded
ASAP, considering the fact that my paper is due Wed (tomorrow). Can I ask you these questions? If they are too personal, I
completely understand. But, they MUST be included in my paper.
- What is your salary?
- What is your typical day like when working?
- What college is recomended for writers/science fiction writers?
tell me where I could contact other writers ASAP.
I told him that a) I don't write science fiction novels, b) he shouldn't have waited until the last minute to contact the writers that he needed to talk to and c) that no, I wouldn't give him any contact information so that he could impose on my friends.