Sunday, August 09, 2009
TCA FX SHOWRUNNERS PANEL
PRODUCERS ATTACK NBC... First of all, you can tell by the photo -- as I pick at a lose thread on my jeans -- that I wasn't quite sure what the fuck I was doing up there. All those guys, Shawn Ryan (The Shield, The Unit, Lie to Me), Peter Tolan (Rescue Me, The Job), Todd A. Kessler (Damages, The Sopranos) and a personal hero of mine, Graham Yost (Boomtown, John Adams, Lawman) have way more experience than I do. This was supposed to be a forum about the creative concerns of scripted television. Why, in a landscape of ever-changing content rules, we are witnessing some of the best scripted television ever produced. To me, that's a fascinating topic. However, some of the reporters seemed to have a different agenda. Clearly when the first topic raised was about the difference between running a network show and cable show, I knew I was out of my depth. I've never run, nor even written for network. Then the questions took an inevitable turn to the NBC decision to kill dramas at 10pm. I would like to clarify one thing, the panel was not an NBC-Bashing as Ken Tucker's snappy headline would suggest. It began with Shawn praising NBC as the godfather of television drama. The comments focused on how "disappointing" it was that NBC has, as Tolan put, "given up" by programming Leno at ten. From Hill Street to ER to West Wing, NBC developed the dramas that inspired many of us to become writers. In fact, it was a West Wing spec that got me the gig on The Shield. Reporters then dug in, inciting more heated feedback. Which of course most of us were happy to add. I felt like the idiot echo, chiming in every once in awhile with "Yeah, that's right... what Shawn just said..." My comment, "they're the bastards to hate now" was not a slam as much as it was a comment on the cyclical nature of success in the television business. But I was cut off before I could articulate that point. When the topic of the Emmy time-shifting snub was brought up, Shawn spoke about the general dismissive attitude that some networks and studios have about writers. Clearly carrying over some of his heated feelings from the recent strike, Shawn called out the very real truth that studios hate the fact that they need writers. And if they could a find away to do television without us, they would. And of course, in fact, they have -- Reality TV. Which we all know is also scripted, but that's a whole other heated forum. It ended up being a platform, mostly for Shawn, to remind the media of the importance of writers and the contribution they make. NBC wasn't bashed, they were held accountable for the impact they've had on the creative community.
Posted by Kurt Sutter at 8/09/2009 05:33:00 PM