I went over to good ol' Deadline Hollywood the other day and some news caught my eye:
"The Office Head Writer Daniel Chun Signs Overall Deal With ABC Studios"Congratulations to Daniel. I don't know him, but I'm sure he's extremely talented and this is well deserved.
After stints at The Simpsons and The Office, Daniel Chun is embarking on development with a two-year overall deal at ABC Studios. The seven-figure pact, which will start in the summer, was made in a competitive situation, with ABC going aggressively after the sought-after writer-producer.
This story was of particular interest to me because like him, I also happen to be the head writer of a show. So we have that common. What we don't have in common is overall deals and 7 figures, I have neither of those. No one is competitively trying to sign me up to do anything.
Now I know what you're thinking, "hey buddy, you write on a stupid cable clip show, this dude is on The Office. You're not even close to that level".
You're right. You're totally right. Except for one small thing:
MY SHOW GETS BETTER RATINGS THAN HIS!!!
Did you hear that? I feel like I need to repeat it:
My show gets better ratings than his.
Oh, and also, his show is most likely getting canceled this year. Meanwhile, if my network could order a thousand more episodes of mine, they'd do it in a second.
So here we have two head writers, one on a show with better ratings, the other on a show that used to be successful and is now about to be canceled, and the guy with the shittier ratings is getting 7 figures and the other guy is getting no love. How am I supposed to be cool with all of this again?
Does this not seem like it would be frustrating? Maybe it's me.
And I didn't even mention how my show costs a tenth of what their show costs to make, thus making it a million times more profitable. But hey, why delve into the messy facts that make me want to blow my poverty stricken brains out?
Now, I'm not a fool. I'm not surprised by any of this, and I don't expect people to throw millions of dollars at me. However, I'd take a fucking 5 figure deal at this point!
It's not like I'm asking for the world here, people. I'm saying, this guy gets 7 figures, I'd like a free lunch, maybe. I'd take that. So far, my phone ain't ringing.
Okay, that's the frustrating, annoying as shit micro look at things. But I bring it up here in order to look at the bigger picture because I think it's pretty interesting. The TV landscape is getting weird.
Maybe, just maybe, Jeff Zucker was smarter than everyone else. Maybe the Jay Leno show was the right move. And maybe, the Jay Leno Show is the future, and Zucker was ahead of his time.
Ratings wise, Leno usually got between a 1.5 and a 1.7. That's not all that great. But let's check out what kind of numbers NBC is doing now:
You know how Tina Fey is a genius and everything? Well, last week 30 Rock got a 1.5.
How about everyone's favorite show, Parks and Rec: 1.7.
But those shows were on during the 8:00pm hour. The Jay Leno show was on at 10pm, so what did The Firm do (on February 2nd), you ask? A .8.
Meanwhile Jersey Shore was busy doing a 2.9.
Here's Wednesday for NBC: Whitney 1.5, Chelsea 1.3, Rock Center .6, Law and Order 1.6.
On cable, at MIDNIGHT, Robot Chicken did a 1.0.
Jesus, it seems like NBC would kill to have Jay Leno on in prime time right now. And the brilliance of it is that it was on every night of the week. You get that programming, and that rating, every night. And it costs a million times less than paying Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Tracy Morgan, and a cast of thousands.
Things have changed.
And through all of this, I think I've forgotten my point. Oh yeah:
Less and less people are going to the big networks to watch a majority of the TV shows they are putting on the air, so maybe it's time to stop putting the people who do network shows on a pedestal.
I understand the prestige of having 30 Rock on your network, but the fact is, nobody is watching.
Is a 2.5 rating on cable worth less than the Office's 2.5 rating? No, in fact, it's worth way more. So why give a guy 7 figures to make another show that gets a 2 when you can pay someone else 5 figures to get the same number?
Cool, niche cable shows have eaten away at the big boys, so there are certain things they should stop doing. However, there's still a big audience for bland, expensive procedural dramas, lame competition reality shows, and even lamer, CBS style, lowest common denominator sitcoms. But everything else, at some point, is going to be too expensive than they're worth.
But right now, to answer the question of the title of this post, the difference between cable and network is still 7 figures.
Eventually though, the networks will turn back to stuff like the Jay Leno Show. And because of that, they may even have to turn to...me. Because that's what I do. I am a cheap, comedy writing whore. I just hope I haven't killed myself by the time they do the math on all of this.