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November 08, 2007

Did de-regulation ruin TV?

Are the corporate suits ruining TV? - Los Angeles Times

After 20 years and five series, including "thirtysomething" and "My So-Called Life," my partner, Ed Zwick, and I have -- for the time being at least -- stopped producing television programs.

It's not personal. I count as friends many of the executives who work at the networks. We had a deal at one network, ABC, for all of those 20 years, and, in spite of many regime changes, we were always treated with great respect. This is not about how we were treated but rather something much larger: How a confluence of government policy and corporate strategy is literally poisoning the TV business.

It started in 1995 when the Federal Communications Commission abolished its long-standing "finsyn" rules (that's financial interest and syndication, for those unfamiliar with the term), allowing networks for the first time to own the programs they broadcast. Before that, under classic antitrust definitions, the networks had been confined to the role of broadcaster, paying a license fee to production companies for the right to broadcast programs just two times. The production companies owned all subsequent rights. In the mid-1990s there were 40 independent production companies making television shows. If a particular network didn't like a show -- as famously happened with "The Cosby Show" many years ago -- the production company could take it to another network.

But not after 1995. The abolition of the old rules set in motion an ineluctable process, one that has negatively affected every creative person I know in television. Today there are zero independent production companies making scripted television. They were all forced out of business by the networks' insistence -- following the FCC's fin-syn ruling -- on owning part or all of every program they broadcast.

November 07, 2007

Heroes preparing early finale

SCI FI Wire | The News Service of the SCI FI Channel | SCIFI.COM

TV Guide.com reported that producers of NBC's Heroes are shooting an alternate ending to the Dec. 3 episode that will wrap up the second season early in the event an expected writers' strike prevents the show from continuing with new episodes.

Citing anonymous sources, the site reported that the episode will function as a season finale; originally, the episode was supposed to serve only as the conclusion to the current "Generations" story arc. Should an 11th-hour agreement be reached and a strike averted, the alternate ending would likely be scrapped, the site reported. (NBC is owned by NBC Universal, which also owns SCIFI.COM.)

Anyone else out there have love for this show? I know a lot of people have been attacking the second season as bad, but I think that's a really impatient approach. The first season had a slow burn and then went on to a series of brave and bold plot choices. It seems they're following the same pattern for season 2, as well as also cribbing heavily from Watchmen and Days of Future Past again.

John Waters is a filthy, filthy god: "Middle American families are going to "Hairspray" and seeing two men singing a love song. They're clapping and encouraging their 15-year-olds to date black guys."

via | startribune.com | Waters' 'Filthy World' | John Waters...

November 01, 2007

Joss Whedon returning to Fox with new TV show

James Hibberd - Joss Whedon Returns to Fox With New Series 'Dollhouse' - TVWeek - Blogs

Joss Whedon, the creator of acclaimed cult favorites “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Angel” and “Firefly,” is returning to Fox and reuniting with “Buffy” regular Eliza Dushku for a new action-drama called “Dollhouse.”

Fox has given a seven-episode commitment to the 20th Century Fox Television project for a planned debut next year.

“It deals with our darkest impulses and our best ones,” Whedon says. “It deals with all the things I like to deal with—strength, weakness, power and corruption.”

“Dollhouse” stars Dushku as Echo, one of a group of secret agents living in a futuristic dorm. Each has the ability to be imprinted with custom personalities and abilities for special assignments. When they return, their newly acquired memories are wiped. The show follows Echo as she takes on a variety of assignments—some romantic, some adventurous, some uplifting, some illegal—and gains awareness of her role and confinement.

October 29, 2007

Saw: Making Mayhem Tedious

Why the Saw movies are perfect for middle managers. -...