TV Does TV by Earl R. Dingman
This September heralds a new era for NBC TV. They are lampooning their own with not just one TV show about making a TV, but two, count Ďem, two shows!
One is a light-hearted drama from ace producer Arron Sorkin ("The West Wing" Ė "The American President" Ė "A Few Good Men") and the other a comedy from Saturday Night Live Producer/Developer Loren Michaels.
From what Iíve seen of the previews on both shows they have great potential and neither gets heavy about the TV business. Itís just there.
Bradley Whitford to Amanda Peet:
"I have NO reason to trust you and EVERY reason not to! ....You work in television!"
That basically sums up the premise of "Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip."
That title emanates from a Friday Night live comedy done with and ensemble cast, which basically means they are lampooning the Saturday night NBC/Loren Michaels series SNL!
In the pilot episode Studio 60 executive producer, played by Judd Hersh, gets disgusted after the first 30 seconds and stops the show, sending the cast off to the wings and then tells the audience to switch channels but the show is a bore!
He, of course, gets fired that night by the NBS (National Broadcasting System) network Chairman (Steven Weber of "West Wing" fame).
Next day the Chairman orders his brand new woman President of Prime Time (Amanda Peet) broadcasting fix the show and her brainstorm is to re-hire the producer-writers the Chairman fired from the show 4 years ago!
Weber: "If I hire these two it will look like I was deballed"
Peet: "You need all the fingers on one hand to count the number of people who care about your balls right now."
In come TV producer heavy weights, who are plastered on booze or cocaine part of time... Aptly played by Matthew Perry ("Friends") and Bradley Whitford ("The West Wing").
Perry: "Iím on Vicoden, Percacet and a steroid...the side effects or which are mania. It says so right on the label!"
Perry: "Are you people using confidential information that Danny failed a drug test to force him to take over Studio 60 and deflect attention from what happened on the air tonight?"
Weber (Surprised): "He failed a drug test?!"
Perry (turning to a miffed Danny): "Sorry about that!"
So they take the job.
Perry: "What the hell are we talking about! Four years ago you fired us from the number 2 slot and we went off and became famous and now you want us back because youíre in a jam, isnít that whatís going on here!
Perry to Whitford: "Itís gonna be our show now and only one of us can screw up at a time and I think we both know most of the time itís gonna be me! Youíre the Ďbig shoulders.í
Whitford: I hear you.
Perry: "Good cause I donít remember what I just said...."
This is a drama!
The writing is first rate, the direction is flawless, the casting superb.
What the audience has to buy into is the quartet of Matt, Brad, Mandy and Steve and I think they are good enough to hold it together.
30 Rock is the other show and itís pure comedy from Loren Michaels and two SNL alumni Tina Fey and Tracy Morgan, plus ace big screen star Alec Baldwin (all pictured above).
In the previews I saw they lampooned Studio 60, with Alec asking Tina if this was the show with Amanda Peet"
"No, thatís the other NBC show about the making of a TV show!"
In this one Tina is the writer, producer, host of a daytime talk show and Baldwin is her lame Network functionary boss who inflicts Tracy Morgan on her.
The show doesnít take itself seriously, which is a good thing. At least in the previews I saw.
If the chemistry works it may stand a chance.
They tried this before and it didnít work, but this time they are concentrating on the characters that worked in the past, plus they have a good crew from SNL.
This show will not be "HDTV" writing, like Aaron Sorkinís show. It will be done for a laugh and if it gets it, it will survive!