Question: Is it just me, or does it seem like the days are behind us when a show creator/writer with a pretty good quality track record like David E. Kelley or Aaron Sorkin could snap their fingers and get a network to commit to a new show? Will the ratings troubles for The Wedding Bells and Studio 60 make it more difficult for talented people like Kelley and Sorkin to get show commitments in the future? And when new fall shows are announced next month, do you think the networks will focus more on the pedigree of the producers, the name recognition of the actors involved or the show concepts that can be described succinctly to the audience?
Answer: As I often say, if it's more about the deal than about the show, that's a recipe for disaster. Every successful TV producer is well acquainted with failure. (I'm surprised you didn't mention J.J. Abrams, whose name was associated with recent duds like Six Degrees and What About Brian.) So I doubt it will be any more difficult for talents like Sorkin and Kelley to get their pitches heard just because of a few high-profile misfires. Who wouldn't want to be in business with the brains behind shows like The West Wing and The Practice? Who knows when the magic will happen again? Looking ahead to the fall, I have to hope that the networks will focus less on who's behind the show or who's in the show, or even if the show can be sold in a punchy promo, than whether the show is any good. I know it's a pipe dream, but unless the business changes drastically, it's still going to be easier for established producers to get their shows on the air. And if there's a recognizable face in the cast to help launch the show, even better.