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Red Right Hand: DEVELOPMENT TRACKING (parte the first)
*He is not a secret agent. Not at all.


DEVELOPMENT TRACKING (parte the first)

The first in a series in which I run down the stuff in development that interests me.

Studio 7 on the Sunset Strip (which I understand should be getting a more managable title) should be damn good. Anything created and written by Aaron Sorkin is an automatic for me and Sorkin alumni Matthew Perry and Timothy Busfield have been cast. So far, so good.

I've had the chance to study a version of the pilot script (set backstage at a live sketch-comedy television show not unlike Saturday Night Live) and it is everything you expect from a Sorkin show. Fast-paced, some "inside baseball" but not too much (for me, anyway). Enough that it helps shape things. It really comes off like the second coming of Sports Night. As it should be.

And following the film law of parallel development (I cite volcano flicks, comet-hitting-the-Earth movies, Janis Joplin biopics, and even the bizarre case of the two Slamdance finalists titled Bunker Hill with similar premises among others), there is a very similar show in the works. In most cases, I would likely expect the other one to suck harder than a hooker with a ShopVac and that it would fall by the wayside.

Not this time. The other such program is currently untitled, but let me give you two words.

I'll get in line for anything Tina Fey writes, and doubly so if she's in it. And I have. She got me to see a Lindsay Lohan/teenage girl flick. Judge not a film by it's genre. Fey's Mean Girls script is smart, unpredictable and funny. Not intestinal-distress funny, but funny.

Allow me to get all tangenty. If you're one of those people who excludes things on the basis of genre, you're just missing some good shit. You lock out science fiction and fantasy and you're missing some of the best writing to hit TV in the last ten years, like anything from Joss Whedon. You're also missing out on Battlestar Galactica. The fact that The X-Files won a much-deserved writing award for "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose" seems to be a severe abboration. Whedon didn't get so much as a nod for such excellent Buffy episodes as "The Body" and "Hush" and (blasphemy to ensue) The Sopranos just isn't so good that it needs to virtually lock up the writing category. Especially that last season of theirs.

Same goes for "chick flick" type stuff. One of my favorite shows currently on the air is, without a doubt, Gilmore Girls. I look forward to it every week, my DVD's get a work out (play all) and act four from this last episode ("Friday Night's Alright For Fighting") was one of the greatest things I've seen this season. Maybe Veronica Mars fits this category, but it's a massive genre-buster. And let me also mention Jessica Bendinger's Bring It On. Admittedly, I saw this because Eliza Dushku + cheerleading uniform = good times, but it actually turned out to be a fun movie with great dialogue and a solid plot.


Mean Girls and Fey's SNL work leads me to expect good stuff from this show, which has already cast actual SNL-types Tracy Morgan and Rachel Dratch .

I'm guessing this will mean she'll leave SNL, but that's fine with me. I'd rather have a more solid Fey show than what gets through on SNL (which, by the way, it's okay to say it doesn't suck, because it doesn't. SNL has been hit-or-miss from sketch to sketch ever since it first aired. It's always easier to remember the hits than the misses, so whatever form SNL takes at present, people will always say it's no good. I care not what you say, Astronaut Jones kicks moon-bitch ass).

Both are being developed for NBC. Here's hoping that NBC doesn't think this has to be a zero-sum kinda of thing and that both shows can't exist on the same network. Hell, put 'em on back-to-back and make a block out of it.

UPDATE: Thanks to commenter and sometimes employer Avitable for info on the title change and casting breakdown, current as of 2/3/06. Amanda Peet has been cast (in a The Whole Nine Yards mini reunion) as the president of UBS, who seems to be based a little bit on Jamie Tarses (the character was originally named Jamie in the script).
©2024 Michael Patrick Sullivan
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