In TV, Imitation is the Sincerest form of Desperation

Variety reports that the surprise success of ABC’s DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES has the networks scrambling to develop “housewife” shows of their own.

In the race to come up with the next big procedural hit (a la “CSI” and “Law & Order”), no one saw the mega-openings of ABC’s new drama hits “Desperate Housewives” and “Lost” coming.

Now, just as they were about to finish buying scripts for next season, drama execs have made a U-turn and added a few more quirky female dramas and big-concept thrillers to the development mix.

“There’s always that Oct. 1 curveball that comes in, when everybody suddenly looks for the opposite of what they had been after,” says 20th Century Fox TV drama chief Jennifer Nicholson Salke.

By October, of course, development execs finally have a chance to digest what’s hot and what’s not. And although procedurals are by no means cold, webheads can’t help but take into account the excitement over “Housewives” and “Lost.”

As a result, nets and studios are taking a second look at projects they may have passed on earlier in the year, hoping to capture some of what made “Housewives” so appealing.

NBC and 20th took it one step further, redeveloping the 7-year-old Todd Holland/John Riggi script “Five Houses,” a single-camera comedy about families living in a Los Angeles cul-de-sac.

The success of LOST hasn’t been, um, lost on them either…

“The word right now is ‘eventize,’ ” says ICM’s Matt Solo. “People want pitches and projects that can be turned into events, and promoted as being really different.”

ABC Entertainment exec VP Francie Calfo says it’s clear everyone is now looking for the next show in the vein of “Lost” — even her own net.

3 thoughts on “In TV, Imitation is the Sincerest form of Desperation”

  1. I watched the first 3 episodes of Lost… and by episode 3 I was already tired of it. I don’t think anything happened in the whole hour.
    How J.J. Abrams is going to keep it going through 22 episodes is a mystery to me. Although he’s one of the few people who actually has a chance of doing it.
    By the way, supposedly it stops being a monster mystery around mid-season. Who knows what happens then.


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