Ask-The-Exec!

6/16/04

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Yes, that’s right, kiddos! Today we have a real live junior TV Exec in our midst, and she said she’d answer all our burning questions about the inner workings of television. So ask away, ‘cuz Jen rocks the house, yo. She’s honest, cool, dashing (and taken, boys and girls).

I’ll start:

Hey Jen, what was your biggest heartbreak of a series that you loved, but it failed?

What spec script do you never want to read again, as long as you live?

0 thoughts on “Ask-The-Exec!

  1. Charlie

    Hey Jen,
    How crazy has the whole family guy thing been? Do you want to release every cancelled show on dvd now just in case? I vote for Andy Richter first!

    Reply
  2. jenn

    Is it a crime or a blessing that Freaks & Geeks only lasted one season (barely)? It is perfect in every way, like a beetle in amber. If it had continued on, would it have gotten tiresome? I’d like to think not, but I do love my gorgeous yearbook DVD set.
    My new favorite, Arrested Development…no one watches it either and it’s the funniest damn thing, ever. What is wrong with people?!

    Reply
  3. CL

    How long is it going to take for people to get tired of these inane reality shows and get more quality stuff back onto the networks? (And I use the term quality loosely, as even a half-baked sit-come would be better than some of this dreck.) Note: Stuff like “The Simple Life” can stay. At least it has a point.

    Reply
  4. cullen

    “The Simply Life” simply sucks; I don’t care who watches it. Almost any professional wrestling show is better.
    “Freaks and Geeks” was amazing, like a retro-Wonder Years but an hour long. WTF happened to “Undeclared”; Loudon Wainwright’s Hal Karp was a fresh face on the college dad scene. That Apatow show ultimately suffered from an insufferable title.
    Speaking of actually good TV, when does HBO’s “The Wire” start back up, six weeks into “Six Feet Under”? How does “The Wire” compare to “The Shield”, was it?

    Reply
  5. J

    Well, Ian, I’ve had a lot of heartbreaks, both before and after I started working in TV. I was most devastated by ABC in my formative years, after they got rid of My So-Called Life and Cupid, among others. I spent a good number of years boycotting the alphabet in protest. I mean, what the hell were they thinking? Those two were just crushing from a fan’s point of view. As for my biggest heartbreak, it’s most definitely Wonderfalls, because it and The OC were the first 2 shows I worked on that I was really, truly passionate about. I became good friends with the writers and producers and would have fought to the death for that show, but this is a business and these things happen, and the experience really taught me about how to deal with such dissappointment in my career. Honerable mentions include Andy Richter, Greg the Bunny, Action, and, of course, Family Guy. Thanks for bringing up such horrible memories. Really appreciate it. The spec I never want to read again? The Shield, Sopranos, Six Feet Under, and any spec that’s BAD. PS – If you miss MS-CL too, check it out Friday nights on The N, if you get it.

    Reply
  6. J

    Charlie – It’s been crazy but how EXCITING is that?! I was so excited when Fox decided to even put the episodes on DVD, so you can imagine my joy when I heard the studio would be producing new episodes. I think there were many factors to bringing it back: I think Seth is an incredible talent, but I think FG was just really and truly a show ahead of it’s time. It just works – it holds up, even more so today than ever before. The DVD sales and Adult Swim exposure helped, but I’m not sure DVD sales alone would make this situation a more common one.

    Reply
  7. J

    Jenn – You know, I think you’re right. I feel like it was one of those shows that lived fast and died young, so we could remember it like that, before it got fat and bloated and died on the toilet. It was the perfect joining of brilliant writers, an AMAZING cast, and an idea that was so relatable it should have meant huge numbers. Who knows what may have happened, I’m just thankful for the time we had together. As for Arrested, I think it’s a very particular type of humor and I think that takes a little getting used to. Remember, the Seinfeld pilot had the lowest audience test scores EVER and Cheers was in last place in the ratings for its first 2 years. The people will come, Jenn. The people will come.

    Reply
  8. J

    CL – I’m not sure people will ever get tired of reality shows in general. It’s an age-old question, are they put on the air because people will watch? Or do people watch because they’re put on the air? Either way, it’s a cycle I don’t see ending and I have to say, there are some excellent shows out there that are interesting and entertaining. But I think it does raise the bar for scripted shows, and it’s definetly something to consider when reading and developing projects – why do people keep coming back to American Idol or The Apprentice or The Simple Life? Is there one reason? How do you bottle that magic and put it in a script? The evolution of reality TV has taken us from American Bandstand to American Family (in which cameras followed the Loud family) to the Real World to American Chopper to Fear Factor – just remember that it’s not all bad and, in the case of American Family, can be quite socially relevant. Pay attention now and in 15 years you can teach a college course about it!

    Reply
  9. J

    Cullen – Undeclared was a great show, smart and funny and from the same folks who did Freaks & Geeks. I think the problem is that the college experience is such a specific setting for a story, that it’s hard to get big audiences. I think it relates to a very small percentage of a certain age group. Also, it was a very smart single-camera half hour comedy, which is a tough nut to crack, too. As for The Wire, I’m ashamed to say I haven’t seen it, but I’ve heard reports that Season 3 will start sometime around the first week of September, maybe the 5th. The Shield is a great show, that I would argue did as much to revive the “cop show” as NYPD Blue and Hill Street Blues did to change it. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s well written, brilliantly acted, and sorely lacking in critcal awards.

    Reply
  10. J

    By the way, I should have begun by saying that I am not an expert, that everything I say is merely my opinion, and does not reflect the opinions of my bosses, my co-workers, or the company for which I work! Just a TV fan talking to other TV fans. Ian, you post that somewhere so I don’t get in trouble! Thanks for all your questions – I hope I did okay!

    Reply

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