Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Quick notes on the fall season

ABC has ordered 3 additional scripts for "Women's Murder Club". This now leaves "Cavemen" as the only new show on ABC without an additional script order. Story Link: Hollywood Reporter.

NBC is cancelling the "Heroes" spin-off "Origins". They are blaming the strike. I blame the low ratings and general suckitude of "Heroes" this year.

The X-Files movie sequel is a GO!! July 25 is set for the release date. Clearly the script is done and they are going to start shooting soon to make that date.

Tonight the writers will meet in a general meeting, and we'll know what the story is for when the strike will be declared. Considering there was hardly any news throughout the day today, I'd say the negotiations haven't gone horrible or well. This could mean waiting it out until Monday to call the strike, but who knows...

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

ABC gives Samantha Who? full season order

Ratings for the sitcom have been surprisingly strong, holding a significant portion of the "Dancing with the Stars" audience. In about a month, when "Dancing" goes down to one hour, it will be paired up with returning series "Notes from the Underbelly".

"Carpoolers" was given an order for 3 more scripts last week. No such order for "Cavemen".

Watch List has been updated today.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Back to You gets full season pickup

Fox grants a 'back nine' plus 2 for a total of 24 episodes. There's inference from Fox that 'Back to You' may either lead in to or out of American Idol come January.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Pushing Daisies gets a full season order

Rumblings on some TV discussion boards I frequent, have been lamenting that in the age of DVR/TiVO, it appears that 10 million viewers is the new benchmark for a "hit" show (it used to be 15 million a few years ago...20 million about 6 or 7 years ago).

As a result, "Pushing Daisies" gets a full season order from ABC.

On a related weird note, ABC has ordered three more scripts of "Carpoolers". Are they serious??

Monday, October 22, 2007

CBS cancels Viva Laughlin

Mercifully CBS has done the right thing by putting this abomination to rest. In celebration, I give you one of my favorite scenes from "Blackpool".

Well... okay, one more.

The Amazing Race will return in the 8 PM Sunday slot in a couple of weeks.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Private Practice, Big Bang Theory, The Unit get picked up

Reported in the trades, ABC gives "Private Practice" a back nine order.

CBS picks up "The Big Bang Theory" for a full season, as well as recommits to a full season for "The Unit". CBS had only renewed "The Unit" for 13 episodes this season, but the ratings have been good for the show, proving it deserved its renewal.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

WGA Strike News 10/17

Yesterday, there was a small breakthrough in the negotiations. The AMPTP took one of their demands around residual rollbacks off the table. Some feel that the studios reacted to an article in the L.A. Times specifically detailing the debate about residuals.

Now we wait to see what action the WGA does (or doesn't) take next...

Visiting Valhalla, or "I went to Austin and all I got was this kickass t-shirt"

Let the gushing begin! I doubt you'll find a negative review of the Austin Film Festival anywhere on the 'net. What you will find are a lot of bloggers who make the annual pilgrimage seeking wisdom, friendship, free alcohol and a few Hollywood contacts.

This year, things felt a little strange. And I wasn't the only one feeling it.

Gone was the desperate need to talk to everyone "important" in the room. Vanished was my anxiety over cramming as much as possible into my trip.

This year, I relaxed. And I had very dry skin. But, you don't care about the dry skin, I know what you're wondering.

"Why, oh great aspiring TV scribe, were you so relaxed?"

For starters, this was my second trip to Austin. It really does feel like coming home when you walk into the Driskill Hotel bar and plop down on one of the supple leather sofas. More than once I did said plopping and sighed audibly. There's something incredibly relaxing about sighing and plopping.

While in the Driskill bar post-sigh/plop I experienced the following (not in order, one thing about Austin, events of the few days get jumbled around).

  • I sat on the arm of one of those awesome couches, reading my Blackberry. In a sort of weird half plop onto the sofa, sliding down the leather to a mostly horizontal position, Kyle Chandler walked past and said "I saw that." I giggled like a giggling thing who has just seen an incredibly HOT man walk past her in a smokin motorcycle jacket. Really, I have a whole new appreciation of leather after this trip.
  • While lounging on a couch, again, mostly horizontal, tap tapping away on my lappytop, Oliver Stone cruised by. No one else noticed him. He was wearing this white suit that seriously looked like he'd raided the costume trailer on the MIAMI VICE TV show.
  • I was hanging in the lounge when Scott Richter, incredible writer, fabulous guy, came breezing through after the awards banquet. I jumped up off the couch (which, I think we've established by now, is no small feat considering how awesome these couches are) and asked him the BIG QUESTION: Well??? (Okay, that may not seem big to you, but it's all about context. Had I given you the rest of the conversation it would have been something like 'Dude, you totally are a finalist for the teleplay competition! You rock beyond all belief! You'd better tell me the minute you find out that you won this thing with your pinky finger and your Grey's Anatomy spec." Well, it was far less surfer dude when I said it, but you get the idea) So, I asked, "Well???" He smiled wide, and that's all I needed. It was epic, man.
  • I watched Terry Rossio twirl his girlfriend around as they danced. That was beautiful.
  • I ran into Will Bingham, winner of the FOX show ON THE LOT over the summer and a friend of my sister's boyfriend (side note: said boyfriend was also in the top 50 for ON THE LOT, but got cut in the top 32. He and Will went to FSU together and Will was in his short/trailer which BF submitted to OTL to get on the show. Yes, there were a lot of acronyms in there. Deal.) It was a bit weird as I was rushing through the lounge, and I turn to look at a guy standing there, and my verbal diahrea took hold and I shouted "Will!" He looked up, and I realized how stupid I was -- he's never met me. He's met my sister though, so I introduced myself and he relaxed, possibly realizing that I was not some weird reality show stalker.
  • I ate a lot of Clif Bars. I highly recommend the new Nectar Cherry Pomegranate.

I'm sure there was more, but like I said, total jumbled blur. I did revel in Brett's success with that Nicholl thingy, basked in the glow of the super successful Julie O'Hora there as a panalist and professional screenwriter, and celebrated the new release of
Deborah Chesher's
book Everybody I Shot is Dead. It's a fantastic book. Buy it at the link above.

There's more to say, but not right now. It was a fabulous trip made more fabulous by my friends, these great people (and I'm not forgetting you, Ryan, Thomas, Tina, Theresa, Ann, and those I met for the first time).

Let's do this again next year. When, hopefully, I'll be a panalist.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Lost in Translation

It's not a new phenomenon. For many years, American producers have taken brilliant British television shows and attempted to translate them for American audiences.

Sometimes, they succeed. "The Office" is probably one of the better success stories. Sometimes they fail ("The Kumars", "Coupling"). But there are two very high profile projects out there waiting in the wings. One we won't see for awhile. BBC America showed "Life on Mars" last year, and now David E. Kelley is creating the American version of that show.

But right now, there's a new experiment. And I want it to succeed very much. But it probably won't, because what American television producers and executives are afraid. I'm sure they wanted to fully embrace the look and feel of "Viva, Blackpool" with their new show "Viva, Laughlin". Right now, based on what I've seen, they are chickening out.

Why don't you decide for yourself?

First, watch this promo from CBS for "Viva Laughlin", which previews this Thursday at 10 PM.

Now, the original. Granted, the CBS clip is short, but you tell me which one is more interesting to watch.

They definitely changed the story for the usage of the song too. Makes it tough to compare, I know...but try.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

CW gives Gossip Girl full season order

Surprise! The CW, despite weak ratings for its new shows, moves first to order the back nine of "Gossip Girl". Article in Variety.

Stay tuned for updated Watch List.

WGA Strike Talk

If you're like me (and you probably are), you're following the strike news pretty closely. The town has gone bonkers in the last week trying to deal with the looming possibility (more like probability).

So, I thought I'd collect a few links to articles which will really help break down what the dealio is with the negotiations and the strike.

First off, if you aren't reading Craig Mazin's blog The Artful Writer, you need to start. Right now. He probably has the single most useful site for newbies to understand WGA politics, the MBA and what is up with this whole strike thing.

An article today I spotted at Mediaweek today. It's more about the TV perspective, which obviously, I care about.

Variety article published yesterday. Details a lot of the recent finger pointing.

A fascinating interview with
Terry George (Hotel Rwanda) where he discusses the strike and his advice to new writers. (George will be at AFF, where I am headed tomorrow!)

The WGA has a page devoted to strike news.

Hey, guess what? The Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Producers (AMPTP) has a site too. Fun, fun.

Have any other good blogs or articles to add? Please do so in the comments.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Irrational Anxiety

So far, I've had no luck with any of the contests I've entered specs in this year. Austin -- didn't even make it to the second round. Expo -- no dice. Scriptapalooza -- QF one script. PAGE -- nada.

It makes me incredibly nervous about ABC and WB, the two I really want to do well with (obviously). It's starting to make me wonder where I've gone wrong with these specs.

Yeah, yeah, I know. It's subjective. My scripts could be so brilliant they are blinding the readers to their brilliance. Or, maybe I'm just missing something...

Keeping my fingers crossed for the big 2 "contests" left...

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

How the new series fare so far...

(For Nielsen coverage in full, check out Mark Berman's Programming Insider column daily.)

New Show Debut Ratings from last week:

Private Practice (ABC) – Wed. 9 p.m.
Viewers: 14.41 million (#13), A18-49: 5.2/13 (#10)

Bionic Woman (NBC) – Wed. 9 p.m.
Viewers: 13.91 million (#16), A18-49: 5.7/14 (#8)

Big Shots (ABC) – Thurs. 10 p.m.
Viewers: 11.10 million (#29), A18-49: 4.5/12 (#20t)

Dirty Sexy Money (ABC) – Wed. 10 p.m.
Viewers: 10.44 million (#31), A18-49: 3.6/10 (#32t)

Life (NBC) – Wed. 10 p.m.
Viewers: 9.95 million (#34), A18-49: 4.0/11 (#27)

The Big Bang Theory (CBS) – Mon. 8:30 p.m.
Viewers: 9.52 million (#37), A18-49: 3.7. 9 (#30t)

Chuck (NBC) – Mon. 8 p.m.
Viewers: 9.21 million (#42), A18-49: 3.6/ 9 (#32t)

Journeyman (NBC) – Mon. 10 p.m.
Viewers: 9.16 million (#43), A18-49: 3.5/ 9 (#35t)

Moonlight (CBS) – Fri. 9 p.m.
Viewers: 8.54 million (#47), A18-49: 2.5/ 8 (#55t)

Reaper (CW) – Tues. 9 p.m.
Viewers: 3.28 million (#85), A18-49: 1.5/ 4 (#76t)

So far this week, "The Big Bang Theory" held most of its audience from last week, and "Chuck", "Journeyman" and "Reaper" have on par numbers. "Cane" last night had better ratinigs than "Smith" in the time period a year ago. I say it will hold on for a few weeks. So far this bunch of shows look relatively stable.

"Cavemen" and "Carpoolers" last night bowed to unspectacular numbers. Both shows managed a 6.5/10 and a 6.3/10 in the fast nationals. This will probably put them in the top 50 shows of the week, but I don't expect those ratings to hold next week. Both shows were painful to watch.

There are articles all over the web detailing how increased DVR usage impacts the ratings this year. Nielsen has not yet published the live +3 and live +7 day ratings which include the DVR usage. Last year, DVR penetration was at about 8.5%. This year it is estimated to be more than double that, to 19%. 19% of households is roughly equal to 22 million households. That is a significant amount for the ratings picture and could catapult some shows from decent numbers to hit status once the DVR viewership is factored in.

Of course, the advertisers aren't so sure that people using DVRs are seeing their ads (probably not) so they are probably going to take the live +3, live +7 ratings with a grain of salt...

ABC in love with "Cupid" again?

In what may be the strangest resurrection story of the week, ABC has given the greenlight to Rob Thomas ("Veronica Mars") to recreate his show from eight years ago. "Cupid" ran 13 episodes in 1998-99 and put Thomas on the map. It starred Jeremy Piven and developed a cult following over the years.

It's not uncommon for networks to revisit shows which worked and try to revamp them ("Bionic Woman"?) but to take a show that was cancelled so early in its run and try to recreate that? With the same showrunner? This is practically unheard of.

I certainly hope Thomas can find a way to make the show work the second time around. I enjoyed "Cupid" during its original run. Piven won't be back since he's moved on to playing Ari Gold.

Weird. Interesting. Exciting.