On this week’s TV news link roundup: pilot season mad-dash, the Sopranos final sequence by its director, a cable victory lap, some YouTube garbage and ABC Family targets a new buzz word.

Tight Production Schedules Put Pressure On Pilot Quality

An interesting look at the mad-dash of pilot season, especially since pilots are being ordered later and later.

All networks, particularly ABC and CBS, were again way behind in their pickups, compressing the time for staffing, casting and producing the pilots.

Let’s be honest here. Network pilots have never had that much lead-time to begin with. It’s always been an insane game of last-minute reshoots and deliveries. There’s a reason pilots have often (if not always) been considered a show’s weakest episode. That is, until “they” run the concept into the ground by season five.
The crazy news of the article however comes from the opening date of Upfront Week: May 11. Yes, that’s hell-a early and “the earliest in at least a decade”. Good luck to post-production.

Eight years after it aired, David Chase explains how he created the excruciating tension of the last Sopranos scene

It was my decision to direct the episode such that whenever Tony arrives someplace, he would see himself. He would get to the place and he would look and see where he was going.

Spoiler alert: he doesn’t say what happens after.
Although not directly related to the show’s writing per se, it is still worth the gander. Definitely a must-read if if you care even just a bit about the visual component of this historical HBO show.

And speaking of HBO…

At the Head of the Pack, HBO Shows the Way Forward

The NY Times rocked it with an in-depth look at the inside of HBO’s current programming direction. Watch and read as Richard Plepler, HBO’s CEO, makes a victory lap.

Interesting, isn’t it, that at a time that’s been called the most competitive moment in our industry’s history, we have, in my opinion, the best array of content in our history.

Best array of content in your history? While HBO’s 2015 series are certainly more popular while airing than the ones from the 2000s, I’m not sure the quality and endurance compares. The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, Rome, Deadwood, Carnivàle and The Wire just called. And it was a weird conference call.
The piece also states that back in 2007/2008 “[HBO’s] content cupboard was bare, and rival TV executives openly referred to the cable network as HB-Over.”
Was “HB-Over” an actual thing? Well, yes. In fact, it came from this previous NY Times piece where Showtime’s chairman and CEO Matthew C. Blank was quoted:

HB-Over. I’ve heard that term used for HBO both outside and inside our network.

Tough pill to swallow now that Starz has taken Showtime’s second place in the premium cable world. Woops.
It’ll be interesting to see how CBS competes with HBO Now’s (nearly) independent streaming service.

Seinfeld calls YouTube a ‘giant garbage can’

Although Seinfeld was joking, he was in fact touting his Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee arriving at Crackle.

When you get to a certain point in the business, what a man is looking for in a network is the same thing he’s looking for in his underwear. He’s looking for a little bit of support and a little bit of freedom. And that’s exactly what Crackle offered.

You can tell how much he respects online content. I think he’s reached that rare apex of making people giving him money laugh as he openly mocks them.

ABC Family Doubles Down on Original Programming to Reach Young Women

Or as they call them, the “becomers”. Shudder.
In non-buzzy marketing words, they’re referring to young women between 14 and 29 “entering new life phases”. This is good news for the content side of things: the cable network is on the verge of announcing at the upfronts it will “double its original programming slate over the next four years”. ABC Family president Tom Ascheim also added:

The phone is the first smart TV. It’s an incredible source of video. We’re also embedding the social tools they love so much into the ABC Watch experience.

ABC Wat–Oh. For a second there I thought you were referring to Android Wear and apps for your wrist. You’re just talking about your VOD service. Gotcha. Actually, that makes me want to develop some kind of app for smartwatches. Maybe a crappy asymmetric viewing experience?
ABC Family is actually revamping its online viewing service this summer to increase mobile viewing. No surprise there considering that phones are now the way most 25-and-under watch video content.
And the AdWeek article is already talking about Generation Z. God help us.

Interesting interview with Nielsen Social’s SVP of Product.

Just a little over a year since Nielsen Social partnered with Twitter to produce the Twitter TV Ratings and to conduct research around the social network’s influence on viewership, the findings show that correlation is, at the very least, still meaningful and actionable for networks and advertisers alike.

Which brings us to tonight’s word: End of an era.

There are very few times when the expression “end of an era” is really deserved.
This is one of them. At least, for me.

From Even Stevpehn (or is it Even Stephven?) to The Colbert Report, I basically grew up on Stephen Colbert (TM) (not to be confused with Stephen Colbert). Yes, that sounded dirty.
In the 9+ years the show has (or should I say had) been on the air, I have never missed a single of the 1,447 episodes.

Longtime readers of this blog also know how much I care for the show. In fact, one of my earliest post (over six years ago!) was a simple embed of one of my favorite all-time bits: “Charlene (I’m Right Behind You)”.
There have been several other posts on the subject (like yet another Charlene song).

Right this moment, I don’t have profound things to say about Stephen Colbert (TM) or The Colbert Report that haven’t been said better this past week (and over the years).
Maybe one day, after having processed the end of The Report, I’ll write a piece that’s a little bit deeper or enlightening (yeah, right).

But I just wanted to post something tonight because, well–

I’m going to fucking miss this show.

I’m going to miss the political and cultural satire (duh).
I’m going to miss the amazingly eclectic choice of guests.
I’m going to miss Better Know a District, Cheating Death, Colbert Platinium, the ThreatDown, Yawhweh or No Way, Thought for Food, Tip of the Hat, Wag of the Finger, the Atone Phone–all the other hilarious segments. Too many to count.
I’m going to miss the annual unveiling of his portrait.
I’m going to miss the On Notice board.
I’m going to miss Charlene.
I’m going to miss The Word.

Above all though, I’m going to miss Stephen Colbert (TM).

He’s immortal now, so maybe we’ll see him return to our screens (Highlander reboot anyone?).
In the meantime, we’ll have to be content with The Late Show. I already posted back in April my mixed feelings about the death of Stephen Colbert (TM) in favor of the CBS spot.
It’s way too early to tell what kind of show it will be, but it certainly won’t be The Colbert Report.
That show is gone. The Wikipedia entry replacing “is” with “was”.

I salute you Stephen Colbert (TM). Thank you for 17 years of you.

And that’s the word.

Until next time, I’ll see you in health!

Hi there!

Alex Freedman

I'm Alex Freedman, the writer behind TV Calling.

I started this site in 2008 to chronicle my own journey in television writing.

600 posts later, TV Calling has also become a comprehensive resource dedicated to the full TV writing industry—from spec to success.

Everything here is written by yours truly (unless otherwise credited), so feel free to blame me for any missed deadlines.

I hope you'll answer your television calling, and join me in this creative journey.

Write on.

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