By Jaime Weinman - Thursday, February 21, 2013 - 0 Comments
Not every failed TV show deserves an oral history – strange as that may sound – but I’d read one for Up All Night, which seems to be one of the two shows that most epitomizes the weirdness of Bob Greenblatt’s tenure running NBC. The other one is Smash, Greenblatt’s highest-priority project and the one he seems to have been most invested in; its failure in the second season, coming on the heels of his statement that the first season was an “unqualified success,” may do the most to raise doubts about his track record picking scripted shows. Up All Night wasn’t as big a failure, and if the network had simply canceled it, it would just be another one of those shows that managed to survive for a second season but didn’t quite work out (along with Whitney and Harry’s Law and a few other shows the new NBC regime picked up). The constant retooling of the show, beginning as soon as the pilot was delivered, turned it into a joke, and has culminated in the insane recent series of stories where one by one, people abandon the show while the network tries to figure out how to keep it going in some form. The most recent story is that Will Arnett has accepted an offer to star in a CBS pilot from Raising Hope creator Greg Garcia. I don’t actually know if Arnett has what it takes to headline a show; certainly Running Wilde didn’t make him seem like a plausible lead. But how can CBS resist the temptation to stick a finger in NBC’s eye like that?
By Jaime Weinman - Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 6:00 AM - 0 Comments
As Jaime Weinman explains, there are minor renovations and there are gut jobs. Welcome to Up All Night.
If you’re tired of TV shows being treated as high art, take heart: networks are bringing back the “retool,” the crass commercial method of changing everything about a show. Up All Night, starring Canadian comic Will Arnett alongside Christina Applegate and Maya Rudolph, is a show whose constant retoolings have made more news than the show itself, culminating in the announcement that it will add a studio audience—the first show to make this change in a decade. Lee Goldberg, a writer-producer for such heavily retooled shows as Diagnosis Murder (and creator of the novel series The Dead Man) says shows are revised for many reasons: “budget concerns, political issues, previous series commitments, lack of enthusiasm or support at the network.” But, he adds, the primary reason for a retool is summed up in two words: “pure desperation.”
TV has been retooling shows since it began, and in the old days, networks didn’t care if the changes made sense. When Valerie Harper was fired from her self-titled show in the ’80s, Chip Keyes, the show runner, recalls that he was ordered to start writing scripts for a new character who could turn out to be “a sexy aunt, a funny grandma, a sexy grandma, a cousin on the run from the law . . . it was wide open.” But this kind of tinkering became less common in recent years as TV was taken more seriously and fans became more engaged. “Today’s viewers are, on average, much more aware of the mechanics of TV production,” explains Jason Mittell, associate professor of film and media culture at Middlebury College. “Switches are going to be much more noticed.” Shows like Lost were likely to make subtle changes rather than wholesale revisions. Continue…
By Rosemary Counter - Friday, November 16, 2012 at 3:37 PM - 0 Comments
TV’s funny gal gets serious about adolescent angst in the online series Ask Amy
Amy Poehler, the Saturday Night Live alumni often seen dressed to the nines on red carpets, reclines on her bed. Dressed down in capris and cotton, she introduces herself: “Hi there! You’re watching Ask Amy, and I’m answering the questions you sent in.” She flashes her iPhone to the camera.
Today’s question is almost quaint: “My dad won’t let me wear makeup because he says 14 is too young. How am I supposed to feel as pretty as my friends?”
“Well, this is a tough one,” says Poehler. “I understand you want to wear makeup like your friends—and, by the way, I can tell by your email that you’re so pretty that you don’t even need it.
“But if you want to wear it,” she continues, “maybe you could talk to your dad and say, ‘Okay, maybe I’ll just wear, I don’t know, a little eyeliner?’ ” Between tangible tips, some heart: “You’re turning into a young woman and it’s hard for him. So he might need you to go one step at a time.” Continue…
By Rebecca Eckler - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 at 11:23 AM - 0 Comments
How a Harvard grad parented a rebellious dropout who wanted to act
Actor Will Arnett, who grew up in Toronto, wasn’t that funny as a kid. Not according to his father, James “Jim” Arnett. “Looking back, he was quite serious. But by the time he was a teenager he was funny and amused his family. He was always a quick wit.”
Whether or not it’s hereditary, Jim’s hedging his bets. “I wouldn’t say I’m funny. I have no idea what others would say. Wait . . . my wife says that I have a wicked sense of humour.”
What she meant, Will says in an email, is that his dad’s humour “is derived mainly from witchcraft.”