Fandom in the Social Media Age – Conclusions, Part IV

(Had I known this series of blog posts would be this long, I’d have picked a shorter name for it. Also, the Roman Numeral is for you, Bernie Su.)

If you have managed to read everything I’ve written on this topic so far, congratulations! You have successfully cured your insomnia! Okay, hopefully it isn’t that boring. After all, you are still reading it…hey, why is that? Don’t answer. I might not actually want to know.

When last we met, I was yammering on about the Fandom Life-Cycle. I got about halfway through, saw I was at 3300 words in the post, and decided I’d finish it up here. And I will. I’ll also be spinning out into a couple of other areas once we’ve finished this life-cycle discussion: Anatomy of a Fan(Girl) and The Raising of the Bar.

 The Fandom Life-Cycle

lifecycle

Not to scale. Your mileage may vary.

Last time we talked about the Introduction and Growth phases of the Fandom Life-Cycle, arguably the most heady and exciting time for any fan group. Those phases cover the timeframe when the fandom is forming and new people are joining in constantly increasing numbers. The amount of time this covers can vary for each fandom — some run much shorter cycles than others. Some fandoms last weeks or months, while others can last decades. I think it’s fair to say that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories (and the character) have been through the cycle several times — as Sherlock is revived in popular culture a new flock of fans become enamored, and the cycle picks up and begins again. That’s one of the beautiful things about fandom — it can be constantly renewed and refreshed, if the passion exists in someone to revive it.

Once a fandom experiences a period of sustained growth, it will eventually level out. This is the Maturity Phase. That doesn’t refer to the ages of the people in the fandom, merely that the fandom has reached a level of saturation, and it is maintaining its numbers, but not gaining many new fans. Those who have found the fandom and enjoy it have stayed, and are continuing to enjoy it. Maturity can also be a great time, but it can also lead to great apathy – the fandom is so comfortable and established, it doesn’t work as hard to recruit new members, or the inability to find new fans leads existing ones to simply enjoy the fandom. Evangelizers fade out. The Artists and Critics are still around, generating content, but the creative fuel that the fandom is supplied by, the original content, is either gone or fading. Maturity sometimes happens as a show is still on the air, but fans have dropped out for one reason or another — the audience stays pretty stable and consistent but doesn’t grow. More often, Maturity is reached once a show or book series ends. Once the material that was the basis of the fandom has dissipated, there is less to hold the fandom together. It is from here that the fandom enters the last and often the saddest phase, Decline.

Let me tell you about the Decline Phase. It’s dark and depressing. It’s almost as bad as the Introduction Phase in terms of  fans feeling like the lone voice in the wilderness. Many fans have moved on or are in the process of losing the passion they had in the first place. I personally experienced the Decline Phase in a fandom in 1989. This was the last year “Doctor Who” aired episodes until it was rebooted and revived in 2005. While there were fits and spurts of new content trickling in over the years in the form of original novels and radio plays and the (failed) TV Movie on Fox in 1996, the fandom was in major decline. It had already been difficult to find fellow fans in the 80’s, now it was nearly impossible.

But then something happened — the Internet. As people began to really connect with one another (circa 1995) on the internet, it became easier. And the fans who still had a deep passion for this show kept the small embers of hope alive that it would return. Ten years these embers burned, until finally, Russell T. Davies in his infinite wisdom found the way to revive the franchise. And once David Tennant replaced Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor, the fandom was back in a new life-cycle.

That’s the beauty of the life-cycle — from decline can emerge something new and fresh. Fandom is immortal, and like a Time Lord, it regenerates itself, sometimes with the reviving of something old and dear, often with something new and different.

Like any sports fan who has up years and down years for their favorite sports team or the fashion mavens who watch styles go in and out of favor, fandom has similar emotional ebbs and flows — and boy is fandom emotional.

Anatomy of a Fan(girl)

Let’s get this out of the way first: This doesn’t just apply to females. Yes, I included the ‘girl’ in parentheses above, but because “fangirl” is a term which already conjures certain images and impressions. I want to dig deeper than the proverbial fangirl, because honestly, there are many different types of fans.

Is this you?

Is this you?

There are casual fans, of course, but every fangirl and fanboy worth their salt knows they are just poseurs. They don’t REALLY love the thing you love. They like it, sure, but…no one can understand how you feel about this thing. Okay, maybe the thousand other fangirls/boys you find online, maybe they understand…

Picture a fangirl. What does she look like?

Thank you Ellahello for capturing this perfectly.

Thank you Ellahello for capturing this perfectly.

Fangirls have been around a long time.

Fangirls have been around a long time.

The more things change...

The more things change…

It’s a difficult thing to wrap your brain around, unless you have been to this place of insanity — and most fangirls/boys will acknowledge that their intense fervor is a kind of insanity. Just imagine that from the time you wake up until the time you fall asleep the majority of your day is spent talking about, writing about, watching, reading, thinking about this particular person/place/thing/show/book/movie/sports team/website. Broadly, we’ve probably all experienced this at one time or another about a crush, a person we became infatuated with, but fangirls/boys seem to do this all the time, and over and over again.

They love to love. Passionately. (We’ll leave the haters for now, because honestly, I’ll never understand someone who devotes so much of their precious time on this Earth hating on things. Unless it is Nazis. Feel free to hate on Nazis as much as you like.)

An example, applied to Pinterest. Found at Toonlet.Com

An example, applied to Pinterest. Found at Toonlet.Com

I love this cartoon, because it applies very broadly to all types of fandom. That last stage though? That could go one of two ways… Sure, the ‘Gratitude’ Phase represented here exists among the healthier of the fan set. But it could also go this way…

... It could go very badly. Thank you GuruPop for posting this.

… It could go very badly. Thank you GuruPop for posting this.

Obsession occurs because our neurotransmitters keep getting pinged. Let’s get a clinical definition of obsession:

At first, like all addictions, obsession is intoxicating. It fills us up, and what a relief that feeling is (especially if we felt empty before). But even if we didn’t feel empty, obsession makes us feel potent, capable, and purposeful.

But also like all addictions, with time obsession unbalances us. We often begin to neglect parts of our lives we shouldn’t. If allowed to become too consuming, obsession causes us to devalue important dimensions of our lives and tolerate their atrophy and even their collapse. But even if our lives remain in balance, if the object of our obsession is taken from us, as my patient’s was from her, we find ourselves devastated, often convinced we’ve lost our last chance at happiness.

Psychology Today

Yep, that sounds about right. But, don’t get me wrong — for fangirls this obsession isn’t always bad. In fact, it can be really great. Consider this from the same article:

Obsession, when made to serve us, can bring out our most capable selves, motivating us to find the creativity and ingenuity to solve incredibly difficult problems. Obsession, in short, can lead us to greatness.

The key here is in controlling and managing the obsession. A majority of fans are perfectly capable of doing this, but every once in awhile you find some that seem to have lost perspective. Sadly, it is that image that plants itself in many minds, as teenage girls and boys who are excessively hormonal and most likely to latch on to obsession, due to the neurotransmitter buttons that keep getting hit (endorphins and dopamine, primarily) and causing good feelings that give fandom the reputation that helped you conjure up that image of a young girl, holding a homemade sign and screaming her fool head off.

Okay, okay! *backs away slowly*

Okay, okay! *backs away slowly*

I can say a lot of these things because I have been a fangirl. About genre television, about musicians. Here’s my high school locker:

I had a lot of TV loves, even back then.

I had a lot of TV loves, even back then.

…or my bedroom wall…

If you can identify most of these people in the photos, you might be a Whovian.

If you can identify most of these people in the photos, you might be a Whovian.

No, you can’t see the Cosplay pictures. So, take it from me, I know what a fan is — they aren’t all crazy. They aren’t all dressed the same, most you can’t even tell looking at them that they’re fans. They come in all shapes, sizes, colors and ages. Anyone is a fan. Everyone is a fan.

The difference between a casual fan and a fangirl is in the passion. A casual fan enjoys the content they are consuming, like a great meal at a fine restaurant. They appreciate it, maybe even love it to a degree. The fangirl is like an over-eater at the Bellagio Las Vegas buffet. They will consume and consume seemingly without end. Do they love it and appreciate it? Oh yes, they do, but they must have ALL THE THINGS. When they become fans of a show, they can’t just watch and enjoy. No, they must write about it, create art and gifs, write new stories… They want to live in the world as much as they can and savor all of it. There’s nothing wrong with either path, provided that the fan manages their expectations appropriately.

The Raising of the Bar

It used to be simple: You’d write a book or comic, create a TV show or a film and the fans would come and accept what you give them. Because you’re the creator, you’re the boss, right?

Well, times have changed…sort of.

This is an effect of social media. It used to be that if you wanted to hear what a fan thought about your work, you’d wait for them to write some fan mail sent through the postal system. Or you’d read a review in a magazine or maybe on TV. It was still a closed system. Social media has changed that.

fandomtweet1

A tweet sent to Jason Rothenberg, showrunner for “The 100.”

A collection of tweets to Julie Plec, showrunner/co-creator of "The Vampire Diaries"

A collection of tweets to Julie Plec, showrunner/co-creator of “The Vampire Diaries”

As you can see from the various tweets, a lot of demands and complaints get sent to the creators and/or showrunners constantly. It’s a stream of abuse, prayers, and yes, compliments too. For some, it can be overwhelming. Julie Plec has certainly had her fair share of fandom “feedback” — “The Vampire Diaries” fans are some of the most vocal, concerned about which characters should be put together romantically, what characters should live and die, even what kind of stories they should be telling. And TVD isn’t the only show that gets this kind of fervent attention. Worse, is if a showrunner engages these fans to explain decisions… some fans just can’t accept those decisions.

In the tweet to Jason Rothenberg the person is probably mostly joking, but it reflects an attitude among some fans — Give me what I want. Now. You will do our bidding. They often insist that showrunners bend to their will. In cases where showrunners have listened too closely to fans, it can backfire — very often what fans say they want and what they actually want/need are very different. Of course, most of the time a story decision isn’t predicated on what the fans want at all, but it doesn’t stop the fans from thinking they have influence. If you did what they wanted, you are a saint. If you did something they hate, you’re the devil. Doesn’t matter whether you even know they said they wanted it or not, you will be glorified or demonized regardless.

There is a positive side to this kind of immediate feedback — that is, knowing when your show is generating the right kind of emotion in the fanbase, or when they are so turned off, so apathetic and losing interest that the show needs to change directions. This can be challenging, given how far ahead the show is in production by the time early episodes air. It can make those changes like turning the Titanic around in the ocean. If the majority are excited, scared, pleased and happy with the story, it’s a great feeling. Even negative feelings are better than no feelings at all.

A few of those demanding fans like to hold a specific threat over the show — Do what I want or I will stop watching your show. They are so engaged in the show and feel such a part of it, that they lose sight that their viewership alone will not affect the writers one whit. It’s only when droves of fans leave (enter the Decline Phase) that the writers will sit up and take notice. Of course by then, it might be too late.

So, it’s important to know what your fanbase is saying, but it will always be far more important that the creators of content stick to their storytelling guns. Follow the story and the characters where they lead you, not where the fans want you to go. Ultimately, the creator must be happy with the work they create, even if it means you lose a few fans along the way. In this, social media is a like a siren song — it can be tempting to want to please your fanbase and give them exactly what they want. But that way lies madness. They will never be satisfied, and now you’ve told them that you will do as they say.

One thing I will say about the interaction of fans and creators is that there is a stronger desire to give the audience a great story with surprising twists. We are living in a glorious time of TV (I’d dare call it the Platinum Age, since the Golden Age has already been set in an earlier time). TV shows are richer, more interesting and diverse than ever before in the history of the medium. Because of that, viewers have watched hundreds and hundreds of hours of story in tv and film in their lifetimes. The expectations for a story are now higher. The audience is highly intelligent and intuitive about story. They know when you’re tapdancing to postpone events in the story and just filling up time. They also know when stories ring false. You have to consider how your story plays week to week as well as how it plays when it is “binged” in a few sessions. Binging on TV content is a new normal, and it is accelerating the rate at which people consume content. It isn’t just that they consume it faster, they now consume more, because they can. As they watch more TV and films, they become smarter and even more intuitive about story moves. Go back and watch some “older” TV from the late 70’s or early 80s — Magnum P.I. or even Hill Street Blues, which was considered very advanced and groundbreaking for its time. I bet you can predict what will happen in the stories more than half the time. Why is that? Because those stories were successful in their time and have been replicated over and over since. Subverting expectations is as important as meeting them. Even better is to exceed them, but that is a high bar to clear, indeed.

For all of the content consumed, even by us as creators, it makes us all smarter. It pushes us to take risks with our stories, and ask ourselves, ‘what if the obvious thing didn’t happen?’ or, ‘if this obvious thing does happen, how can the fallout be different than we expect?’ The pressure of fans demanding great story is terrifying to some degree, but to another, it is exactly the kind of catalyst many creators need to build amazing characters and stories. Audiences demand more, and so we must do everything we can to satisfy, without pandering.

Believe it or not (and you probably do believe it by now), there’s a 5th and final part coming — an Epilogue. We will wrap up all this chatter once and for all. It takes a personal bent, my personal experiences and how I feel about the whole thing. You know, if you’re into that.

 

 

Posted under analysis

This post was written by Shawna on February 13, 2015

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A Tale of Two Showrunners

As I do every year, I attended a couple of Paleyfest panels.  I am almost never interested in what the castmembers of these shows have to say.  Thankfully, the creators or showrunners tend to do most of the talking, which is why I keep going back.

In past years I’ve discovered that not only did I like a particular showrunner’s writing, but I liked them as a person — their general demeanor.

I can say that is true again this year for one showrunner.  And for another… let’s just say, I determined that this is a person I never want to work for.

It’s fascinating, really, because when you read someone’s script you may or may not form an image of that writer in your head (depends on how good or interesting the writing is).  Usually you have to read an interview or listen to an audio commentary to really get a sense of who a TV writer really is, or what he/she’s about.

On the one hand, I discovered mad respect and love for Vince Gilligan this week.  I already respected the hell out of his show BREAKING BAD, but to listen to him talk about his show, answer questions from the moderator and the audience and interact with his cast/crew, I realized that he’s the real deal.  He’s a guy you’d trust to lead you off a cliff with his story vision and that it will make you fly rather than fall.

I won’t name names for the showrunner who was a big disappointment to me, but I will talk about why.  I don’t know him personally, and I can’t pretend that these panels give you the full picture of a person, but from what I saw of this person, I deduced that I would not enjoy working for that show, which is sad, because I really like the show this person runs.

So, I’m not sure what the lesson is here, but I think if you are going to be talking about your work in a very public forum, you should try to come off as humble (not arrogant), part of a team (not a sole reason for success), and not make contradictory statements about how you work.  It’s kind of annoying.

Posted under writing

This post was written by Shawna on March 15, 2010

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Leverage renewed for second season

Fresh out of my email, here’s the press release. Commence specs! And congrats to John Rogers!

TNT Renews Popular Drama Series LEVERAGE for Second Season

Acclaimed Series, Starring Oscar® Winner Timothy Hutton,

Ranks as Ad-Supported Cable’s #1 Entertainment Program in the Tuesday 10 p.m. (ET/PT) Timeslot

Series Averages 3.2 Million Viewers and Scores Big Growth Through Time-Shifted Viewing

TNT’s critically acclaimed hit series LEVERAGE will be back for a second season, according to an announcement today by Michael Wright, executive vice president, head of programming for TNT, TBS and Turner Classic Movies (TCM). TNT has ordered 15 new episodes of the popular, high-octane series, which stars Oscar® winner Timothy Hutton (Ordinary People, Nero Wolfe), Gina Bellman (Coupling), Christian Kane (TNT’s Into the West), Beth Riesgraf (Without a Trace) and Aldis Hodge (Friday Night Lights).

LEVERAGE currently airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. (ET/PT), with the second season slated to begin later this year. The series is produced by Dean Devlin’s Electric Entertainment. Dean Devlin (Independence Day, TNT’s The Librarian movie series), John Rogers (Cosby) and Chris Downey (The King of Queens) serve as executive producers.

LEVERAGE ranks as ad-supported cable’s #1 entertainment program in the Tuesday 10 p.m. (ET/PT) timeslot among viewers, households and adults 25-54. The Dec. 7 premiere was watched by 5.6 million viewers and scored TNT’s best original series telecast ever in delivery of adults 18-49 during the regular broadcast season. Through its first nine episodes, LEVERAGE has averaged 3.2 million viewers and 1.4 million adults 18-49 in Live + Same Day viewing. The first six episodes scored strong growth when comparing Live to Live + 7 numbers, with total viewership rising 33% to 4.1 million and adults 18-49 rising 42% to 1.9 million.

“We’re thrilled that audiences and critics have responded so positively to LEVERAGE and made the show a solid hit,” Wright said. “We look forward to another great season of fun and exciting storylines brought to life by the outstanding cast, led by Timothy Hutton, and the incredible production team, headed up by executive producers Dean Devlin and John Rogers.”

LEVERAGE follows a team of thieves, hackers and grifters who seek revenge against those who use power and wealth to victimize people. Hutton stars as a former insurance investigator whose son died as a result of corporate greed. He now puts his energy, quick mind and keen intellect toward securing justice for society’s underdogs.

“We had an amazing experience shooting the first season of LEVERAGE with such a talented cast and crew and with the full support of TNT behind us,” Devlin said. “We can’t wait to get to work on season two and take viewers on another adventure with Nate and his team.”

LEVERAGE is part of an ongoing collaboration between TNT and Devlin. Previously, he executive-produced The Librarian action-adventure movies starring Noah Wyle (ER). The third installment in the franchise, The Librarian: Curse of the Judas Chalice, premiered as the lead-in to the first episode of LEVERAGE.

The renewal of LEVERAGE is the latest move by TNT in its aggressive strategy to ramp up original series production. The network recently announced that it is greenlighting two new series: Time Heals, a character-driven medical drama starring Jada Pinkett Smith (The Women, The Matrix Trilogy), and the fast-paced, undercover police drama The Line, starring Golden Globe® winner Dylan McDermott (The Practice, TNT’s The Grid).

TNT’s success with original series includes the critically acclaimed The Closer, ad-supported cable’s #1 series of all time; Saving Grace, which averages more than 5 million viewers; and Raising the Bar, which set a new ad-supported cable viewership record when it premiered on Labor Day 2008. The network’s latest original series, the light-hearted drama Trust Me, starring Eric McCormack and Tom Cavanagh, premiered Jan. 26, with 3.4 million viewers.

Electric Entertainment is a full-service film, television and new media production company, established in 2001 by veteran writer/producer Dean Devlin (Independence Day, Stargate, The Patriot) and led by Devlin, along with partners Kearie Peak, Marc Roskin and Rachel Olschan. Electric is in pre-production on the feature film Ghosting, a supernatural thriller that Devlin will produce and direct. Electric’s previous films include the World War I action/adventure Flyboys; the politically charged documentary Who Killed the Electric Car?; Cellular, starring Kim Basinger, Chris Evans and Jessica Biel; and Eight Legged Freaks, with David Arquette and Scarlett Johansson. The company’s television credits include The Librarian: Quest for the Spear, starring Noah Wyle, which aired on TNT in December 2004 and was the highest-rated movie on cable that year; its sequel, The Librarian: Return to King Solomon’s Mines; and Sci Fi’s The Triangle, which won a visual effects Emmy and was the highest-rated miniseries on the cable channel since Steven Spielberg Presents Taken. Electric Entertainment recently teamed with TNT for the crime thriller Blank Slate, starring Eric Stoltz, a microseries that debuted in fall 2008 on the network, as well as on www.tnt.tv. Blank Slate will be re-packaged and distributed on mobile devices, home video and broadcast television. Additionally, Electric Entertainment owns and operates the online independent film magazine IF (www.IFmagazine.com), which reports the entertainment industry’s daily news.

Turner Network Television (TNT), one of cable’s top-rated networks, is television’s destination for drama and home to such original series as the acclaimed and highly popular detective drama The Closer, starring Kyra Sedgwick; Saving Grace, starring Holly Hunter; Raising the Bar, with Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Gloria Reuben and Jane Kaczmarek; Leverage, starring Timothy Hutton; and Trust Me, with Eric McCormack and Tom Cavanagh. TNT also presents such powerful dramas as Bones, Cold Case, Law & Order, Without a Trace, ER and Charmed; broadcast premiere movies; compelling primetime specials, such as the Screen Actors Guild Awards®; and championship sports coverage, including NASCAR and the NBA. TNT is available in high-definition.

Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner company, creates and programs branded news, entertainment, animation and young adult media environments on television and other platforms for consumers around the world.

Posted under tv news, watch list

This post was written by Shawna on February 2, 2009

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The Education of Shawna

Yes, I know, I keep popping in, even though I’m on “hiatus”. I guess I just can’t stay away.

I don’t like blog posts that tease. You know, someone says ‘I have this awesomely cool thing to tell you but I can’t tell you so you’ll just have to sit there wondering what it is until I can tell you and even then it might not be as awesomely cool as you thought it would be.’ Or something like it.

I’m about to tease you. But really, I don’t mean it!

It’s just…it’s hard, when you have weird, amazing things happening all around you…and you just. can’t. talk about it. Not yet.

It’s still progressing in baby steps. A little bit this week. A little big next week. But as I stand back and look at the whole thing, it’s turning into an amazing journey. Lots of steps, taken together, that are going to make one hell of a story when I can tell it.

Let’s just say, I’m meeting amazing, interesting people who like my work, and might even want to work with me. These are amazing, interesting people that I would NEVER get to meet in normal circumstances, but some of you may know that my circumstances aren’t exactly normal. If you don’t know what my circumstances are, go back to January on this blog and you’ll figure it out.

For now, I remain bewildered. And it is so faaaaar from over.

Posted under blogs, writing

This post was written by Shawna on June 17, 2008

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Outside the Box

So, Michael over at Red Right Hand has already posted his thoughts and juicy tidbits from the “Breaking into the Box” event put on by the Writers Guild Foundation on Saturday.

I agree with him on several items, particularly on the value of the non-writers to the discussion. The agents, managers and execs add insight to this whole process of trying to write for television. The showrunners provide their learnings in the trenches and some of the nuts and bolts of running/writing television, but it’s the agents, managers and execs that are the gatekeepers to this kingdom.

Posted under writing

This post was written by Shawna on May 20, 2008

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Stuff I’m thinking about

I haven’t posted my own thoughts on things in awhile. A lot of what I do is report TV news and happenings, link to other blogs…but of course, what’s a blog’s worth if I don’t blather on a bit myself? I might as well just have a news aggregator up and running.

So, the TV landscape is a bit of a mess, not that it’s a big surprise. We all expected some turmoil coming out of the strike, but current events show there is a great deal of uncertainty out there, both for the networks and the writers.

Let’s look at some of the recent events. NBC announces a “52-week” season. First, someone should tell Zucker that sounds silly to anyone not in television (and some of us who are in TV). There are no weeks were there’s no TV. TV is already 52 weeks, and I get that he’s trying to differentiate between fall season premieres and premieres that can occur all year round. But think about it. When was the last time you saw a network show premiere outside of fall? How about ALL THE TIME. So, this big, daring announcement really amounts to NBC saying “We’re tired of pouring money into cool pilots that turn into crappy shows. Now we’re just gonna skip the cool pilot step and just make crappy shows.” At least, that’s what came through on my Zucker-Interpreter Relay (patent pending).

Quarterlife bombed on NBC, big time. Worst ratings in the 10 PM time slot in 17 years. Quite an achievement. Here’s the thing. NBC schedules the show for 10 o’clock. It’s called *quarterlife*, meaning, 25 year olds. Who is your target audience for this show? I’m telling you, anyone over age 30 — not interested. The people who are really going to be into this show are young, hence, popularity on the internets. And it’s on late. On NBC. Which most young hipsters ARE NOT WATCHING. To me, this boils down to programming error. NBC misread the audience for the show, and didn’t give it the timeslot it needed to build an audience. Well, that and I think the show is boring and inconsequential. And I liked “My So-Called Life” and “Once and Again”. Bravo will now air this series, but there was a reason ABC didn’t pick this up as a pilot ages ago. It sucked.

The new ABC/NBC wrestling match over “Scrubs”. Funny how NBC is the focus of the first three items. Pattern, mayhaps? ABC is the instigator on this one. This is personal for Steve McPherson. He developed Scrubs at ABC Studios, loves it to death. He wanted it last season, but couldn’t get it. When NBC didn’t order the 6 episodes that were left for this season, opting to keep the series to 12, McPherson saw an opportunity. Of course, I think both networks are idiots on this score. Look, I know the show has a lot of fans still, but it’s a show no one cares about anymore. ABC picking it up would just be another (very costly) mistake for the network. NBC keeping it just to spite ABC would be ridiculous, liking poking oneself in the eyeball hoping that people won’t see *you* as a result. The show should get one or two episodes, promote the heck out of the end of the show (or better, just make it an hour-long finale), book it for end of sweeps and send the show off into the sunset. Instead, the show will probably get renewed one more time, and it will die a slow, painful death with minuscule ratings. I weep for Zach Braff.

Showrunner roulette. Lots of changes everywhere! The Dexter showrunner moves to Dirty Sexy Money! The creators/showrunners for Women’s Murder Club — fired! (Fear not, they’ll be writing for Whedon on “Dollhouse”). Moonlight’s showrunner — gone! And worse, Joel Silver will oversee the last three episodes (what the heck does Joel Silver really know about running a tv show??) I don’t know if all of these changes were needed or not. Some of them are probably good changes, others…I don’t know — I can’t imagine it’s spite on the part of the studios/networks. Sure the showrunners stood in solidarity with their writing staffs, but even though they shirked their non-writing duties to walk the line, it seems unlikely that a grudge would be held against them for that. But then, I’m not a studio/network person. I only have a Zucker Intepreter Relay (patent pending), not a Studio/Network Minion Mind Reading Device (blueprints available).

What to make of all this? I wish I knew. I’m personally waiting on the fence — I reported (finally) that I have a pilot optioned. Now I’m waiting to see when my producer people will enter the fray with said pilot. Things are a bit jumbled at the moment. No one knows when “pilot season” will start again, or if it really will be a “52-week” season (thanks Zucker!)

Here’s what I do know. TV will continue on. The networks may not be able to pull 15 to 20 shares on its shows these days (unless you are Idol or Deal or No Deal) but that doesn’t mean they won’t continue to try to find shows that can pull that kind of audience. So, we, as aspiring writers, soldier on, work on our specs, our pilots, our dreams.

I really loathe the word “Change” right now (overused by just about everyone). Things are constantly changing — it’s a matter of when you sit up and take notice that things aren’t the same. Changes are happening in this industry. It’s important to be on top of them, embrace them, meet them head on. Don’t be afraid to try different things. Clearly the marketplace is wide open.

Let’s see what we can do with it.

Posted under Uncategorized

This post was written by Shawna on February 29, 2008

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From my visit to the line today

A few photos from the main Disney gate. There was a show of force of major showrunners in the TV biz with press. At least 100 to 140 people (second number including press) at the main gate today.


Joss Whedon.

EVENING UPDATE: Looked through my photos again, and found one that caught Joss’s sign in the corner!

Showrunners wore hats (United Showrunners) and carried signs with the name of their show. I’m sure that was to help the poor press.


One of the best signs today — Carlton Cuse, showrunner for LOST. “Do you want to know what the island is??” (Damon Lindelof is on the left, Cuse is on the right)


Hey, Sonny this one’s for you! (Clarification: Josh Schwartz, creator of THE O.C., CHUCK and GOSSIP GIRL)


Writers at the gate.

ETA: Hi Whedonesque and Fuselage visitors! Sorry I didn’t have more pictures of our fave genre heroes. I’ll try to get more in the future.

Some additional comments: I would have loved to talk to Joss or Cuse/Lindelof or Josh Schwartz, but press was swarming all over these guys. I’d say the event was a success to put faces to shows. The signs were a great idea to not only identify a showrunner and their show, but also to really drive home how many shows were impacted. You can see a few in this picture, but believe me when I tell you there were at least 40 shows represented (I didn’t do a full count) at this gate today.

4:30 PM UPDATE — This video hit Youtube. It’s Damon Lindelof and Marc Cherry at the Disney lot today talking about why they are striking.

Posted under Uncategorized

This post was written by Shawna on November 7, 2007

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Breaking into the Box – WGA event recaps

Clark Perry has done a fantastic job recounting this event so far this week. Check out his posts here and here.

This event was held over the weekend, and I really wanted to attend — showrunners, some of the best in the business spilling their guts — why wouldn’t I want to be there?? Sadly, my schedule prevented it.

I can guarantee that won’t happen again.

Posted under blogs

This post was written by Shawna on May 22, 2007

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