Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Hollywood Babble On & On #818: Television Tidbits

Oy, it's a rotten day here on the ranch.  We're currently getting pounded by a Nor'easter, which is Atlantic slang for really, really, crappy weather with a lot of rain and wind.  Anyway, it's time for some more of the fresh blogging that you crave like the salivating dogs that you are.

NBC's Playboy Club has already been cancelled, completely ruining my bet that it would at least hang on until mid-season.

Anyway, Hugh Hefner crawled out of his cryogenic storage chamber long enough to declare that the show was a victim of bad scheduling.

He's right.

The show would have done a lot better if it had been scheduled for 1976, when people actually gave a flying shit about Playboy.


The Fox Network is in negotiations with the cast of the long running animated comedy The Simpsons. The cast are willing to take a 30% pay cut, in exchange for a bigger piece of the back end.  The network's counter offer is a 45% pay cut, and no extra piece of the back end.

The cast might have to take this deal, because a new report says that Fox can make a shitload more money if they cancel the show, and by shitload I mean around $750 million.

You see, Fox's syndication deal for The Simpsons, made back in the early 90s, reruns keeps it locked into selling to local stations at a set price schedule.  If the show gets cancelled, they get a chance to make a new deal where they can charge more, and include sales to the cable channels that are currently denied them.

So everyone is expecting a deal to be made soon.

Or they could just cancel the show.  Wait 6 months, and start again as the "New Adventures of the Simpsons" and have the best of both worlds.


The Coen Brothers are getting into TV.  That's right, they've inked a deal with Imagine Entertainment and the Fox Network to develop a 1 hour comedy called HarveKarbo

The show will be about an ill tempered private eye, named Harve Karbo dealing with the many messes caused by his Hollywood clients.

Now I'm actually a little bit excited by this news.  The Coens have the ability to make indie films that the general audience can enjoy.  Even when their films don't do as well theatrically as their recent hit True Grit, they can enjoy long and bountiful afterlives on TV and home video.  They also tailor their films around their potential box office.  If something is a little off the traditional commercial beaten path, they don't follow the usual over spend on a passion project plan that most filmmakers do, they keep it cheap.

Now let's take a moment to think of what they need to do to make this show a success.

1.  Good character/casting.  If their titular private eye doesn't connect with the audience, it ain't gonna work.  Character-wise the guy doesn't have to be likable, but he does have to be relatable.  If the audience can relate to him, they can enjoy his misanthropy, especially when it relates to the pampered poodle people of Hollywood. 

2.  Never forget Flyover Country.  One of the biggest problems with shows that involve Hollywood is that they tend to present Hollywood as if it's the standard of normal for the world.  It isn't.  It's a strange place unlike any other on the planet.  There's too much money, too much ego, and too much pretense for ordinary people of the rest of the planet to relate to and maintain an ongoing narrative series. That's why 90% of show-biz related shows fail, and fail fast.

Now if their lead character is an island of normalcy in the mad world of Hollywood. If the show, via it's lead character, acknowledges the madness at the heart of modern celebrity and media then the rest of the world can relate, and tune in.

That's what I think.  Feel free to tell me what you think in the comments.


  1. I haven't watched much of the Cohens, but I often get this sense that they feel like outsiders looking in at Hollywood.

    Which bodes well for this series, I think. A "straight man" to act as a foil for the more outrageous types. Like Ted in "Better Off Ted" or EVERYBODY else against Detective Stark in "The Good Guys" (and believe me, you need that many people to balance out Detective Dan Stark).

    And if Hollywood ends up hating the show while the wider public loves it (you know, the bizarro-glee), all the better.

  2. I love the Coens, and I love most of their movies.

    They have a knack for treating "normal" venues as weird fairylands. Look at how they showed big business in THE HUDSUCKER PROXY (in that movie, when you get demoted, no less than the angel of death scrapes off your name from your door).

    Their main stab at the movie industry, BARTON FINK, certainly didn't treat it as a sane or healthy place.

    They also usually have their hero as an everyman. He might be a loser, as in RAISING ARIZONA, or a neurotic, as in BARTON FINK, but he is never as weird as the characters who torment and tantalize him.

    If they keep the same sensibilities in their tv show, I think they have a good chance to make something wonderful. And, as D points out, when the Coens do something particularly bizarre, they are smart enough to do it on the cheap.

  3. "NBC's Playboy Club has already been cancelled"

    And I was so hoping this would be first topless broadcast network show.