If you lived near Southern California this summer, you might have
heard a sudden passage of air, and thought it was only a small
Santa Ana wind, or at least Robert Downey Jr. celebrating his
latest plea bargain. However, it was really a collective sigh
of relief wafting over Hollywood, as the Entertainment Industry
narrowly averted both a costly Writers' Strike and an Actor's
Strike. Everyone from grips to caterers were jumping for joy at
the prospect of still being able to try to scramble for jobs without
the interruption of a nasty work stoppage.
And the below-the-line workers weren't the only ones happy to
avoid these Strikes. (Many of you not in show biz wonder exactly
which "line" these workers are below. As we all know, the most
important thing in Hollywood is The Bottom Line. These folks are
below that. Try to imagine being Below someone's Bottom, and you
get an idea of what their jobs are like.)
The American public is also glad the talent folks stayed at their
jobs, because that means the New Fall Television Season debuts
as scheduled. Of course, "as scheduled" is getting later and later
every year. In the old days, The New Fall Television Schedule
actually happened in the Fall. Nowadays, chances are good that
we'll be buying Christmas presents before we find out what happened
to Ricky Schroeder on NYPD Blue. And, we can't confirm it, but
rumor has it that the X-Files isn't premiering until next February,
and then only if the Groundhog sees his shadow.
But at least we won't have to wait any longer than usual, and
we can thank the hard working negotiators of the Writers and Actors
Guilds and the Producers. Without their diligence, who knows when
we'd hear the next wacky retort David Spade gives to Laura San
What'shername on Just Shoot Me? We'd have to wait forever to try
to learn the difference between those two Gilmore Girls (one's
the mom, right?) and to find out whether the new actress who replaces
Angie Harmon on Law And Order is going to make us forget Jill
Hennessey, or at least Chris Noth. To say nothing of the havoc
a strike would wreck on the Once And Again Cancellation Betting
But even with TV staying on schedule, all is not joy and jubilation
in Hollywood. It actually turns out, in an ironic twist that Mel
Brooks could turn into a Broadway show starring Nathan Lane, that
the Studios will lose money because the negotiations were successful.
this year, when it looked like Hollywood would shut down because
those selfish writers and actors wanted to actually get paid for
their work, the Studios rushed into production with literally
scads of new product. Overtime became golden time as crews churned
out as much TV as humanly possible (if the words "TV" and "humanly
possible" can be used in the same sentence). Unfortunately, as
everybody except the Bush administration knows, if you slap together
something without attention to detail, you'll pay for it later
on. These shows were hurried through the process, made with even
less originality than usual. And so, Hollywood is stuck with a
lot of product that, even for Television, stinks.
of the executives would rather you didn't find out about their
compulsive green lighting of lame product. Chances are good that
you will never see any of these useless, costly pilots, unless
bootlegged copies appear on the internet. And even if you have
DSL, chances are good that you won't watch them all the way through.
But they exist, they are out there, sitting on a shelf in Southern
California somewhere, and so we present to you a partial list
of what you'll be missing:
* * * * * * * * * *
AT "THE OUTBACK" (NBC) - 12 Different waiters at a theme steak
house perform various tasks (serving grumpy people, carrying large
orders across a crowded dining room) while speaking in fake Australian
accents. Each week somebody gets "downsized" until there is only
one person left, winning the big prize: a job at minimum wage.
LARRY, CURLY & MOESHA (UPN) - Brandy teams up with Destiny's Child
in an attempt to remake the 3 stooges with female hip hop artists.
(NBC) - the spin off of Friends, starring Gunter, that guy in
the coffee bar that we see every week but never really cared about.
ORDER (NBC) - Dick Wolf scrapes the bottom of his franchise's
barrel with this realistic look at the men and women of the Parks
& Recreation Department. In a time-saving device, the main characters
are constantly being replaced by new actors in the middle of each
ABOUT JOHN? (ABC) - Joan Cusak's brother gets his own TV show.
It's just as funny as hers.
(CBS) - In a very self-referential move, Les Moonves approved
a concept about a crime scene investigation unit that works exclusively
at his own network. Most of the plots revolve around trying to
prove that Dave Letterman is stealing office supplies.
BY AN UNCLE (WB) - Never made it past the "pilot presentation
THE WEST WIG (NBC) - Each week Presidential Press Secretary Ari
Fleischer tries out a new toupee, adjusting style to the particular
theme of his press conference (buzz cut for military spending,
long pony tail for environmental concerns, greasy hair for oil
LOVES ALMONDS (CBS) - For some reason, CBS rejected the pilot's
original title, "The Nuts of Hazard."
WANTS TO BEAT UP A MILLIONAIRE? (ABC) - Class warfare becomes
TV welfare, as in each episode a different rich person confronts
ordinary folks who have recently lost their jobs. The pilot has
Bill Gates barely escaping with his life.
& GRACE UNDER FIRE (NBC) - Brett Butler returns to network TV
as she joins the cast of the hit show, playing a gay man. She
replaces Sean Hayes, who moves to CBS to star in his own new series
QUEEN OF QUEENS (CBS) - 'Nuff said!