Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Meeting of Art and Commerce

There was an article in today's NY Times about the head of programming at NBC. The article itself is mildly interesting, although the actual title of the article should have probably been - "Huge asshole, now a slightly smaller asshole, and probably will soon be an unemployed asshole." But the really interesting thing was the attached chart showing all the shows that had come and gone during his tenure. Some of these shows, you just have to wonder. My Dad is Better Than Your Dad? Superstars of Dance? I realize the stations are obliged to fill air time, but isn't there something just slightly better they could have chosen instead of these shows?

The chart demonstrates where we are right now as far as largely commercial forms of art are concerned. Movies and television are in a very strange spot. I don't doubt for a second that execs already know that gimmicky reality shows or endless sequels of sequels will eventually stop paying dividends. For right now, though, these things remain relatively safe bets. And yet you can flip over to HBO and Showtime or go to a Landmark Theater and quality still exists.

Shows like West Wing and Seinfeld were as good as anything HBO has ever shown, even without any nudity or swearing. But with each season that features a Knight Rider remake and a Howie Mandel spinoff, NBC and the others in the big four become further removed from creative, innovative, quality shows.

Now as for how Ben Silverman can be a better exec, he could clearly learn a lot from watching his equivalent on 30 Rock, Jack Donaghy. If he were in this situation, Jack would be smart enough separate his microwave oven division from the the programming division once and for all, and focus his efforts into microwaves instead of fickle TV stars. Okay, he'd probably just order up another season of MILF Island, but I can dream, right?

1 comment:

Chris Evans said...

Ben Silverman is on my shit list forever after canceling "Medium".

But coming from someone who's actually worked at NBC Universal, I can tell you that network is so far into the crapper it's suffocating from the smell.

Even after firing nearly all their executives, NBC still can't seem to get it together. It's a huge mess.