Network execs brimming with false optimism
LIES, DAMNED LIES, AND THE NETWORK EXECUTIVES WHO TELL THEM: The best bit of writing to come out of the summer’s TV critics press tour so far has to be Scott D. Pierce of Utah’s Deseret News, casting back his memory to last year’s summer press tour, and the clear-eyed expressions of confidence and optimism that came from network heads pumping their fall line-ups to the assembled hackery.
There’s Dawn Ostroff, head of then-new network the CW, pumping the now-cancelled Hidden Palms: “The show is actually really good. We want to be able to highlight the series someplace that it can really get some attention."
Pierce responds with the story so far: “It was so good she didn't put it on until the summer. Then she burned off episodes two at a time and aired the last one on the Fourth of July. I'd hate to see what she'd do with a show she didn't want to highlight.”
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There’s CBS executive vice president of programming Kelly Kahl, defending her network’s decision to show Jericho in chunks and blocks – the sort of maddening policy that nearly every network, by the time the season ended, had admitted was a disaster, and was probably one of the prime motivators behind the ultimately successful viewer campaign to get CBS to reverse their decision to cancel Jericho, a spectacular mea culpa for the network.
ABC entertainment president tried to play the creative maverick card with their new comedies: “The great thing is that people are taking chances. I don't feel like three years ago In Case of Emergency (and) The Knights of Prosperity would have gotten on the air. They're funny shows.”
“Not much of anybody else thought so” writes Pierce, “which is why he canceled both.”
Then there’s Kevin Reilly, heading into his last year at the helm of NBC’s programming, enthusing over Donald Trump and the new season of The Apprentice (“I got to say I love the guy ... He's been a tremendous partner for us.”) and recalling the glory years of NBC, which began with The Cosby Show in the mid-‘80s and continued, well, pretty much until Reilly took over. “I think that's going to happen again," he said. Since one of the last things Reilly did before being fired by NBC was cancel the underperforming Apprentice, he probably won’t be renewing that tremendous partnership with Trump at Fox, where he’ll get to see if his old network actually does fulfill his prediction.
Finally, we have Peter Liguori, who was kicked upstairs to make room for Reilly at Fox, waxing enthusiastic about Drive, the show that the network killed after three episodes, then postponed its burn-off of the final two shows twice before dumping them online: “We have a lot of faith in the show,” said Liguori. “It's a Fox concept. It's bold. It is something that explores something in a different arena. ... We have every faith that this is going to be a top show for us.” Words that should chill the heart of every producer and actor currently signed to a Fox show.