The Good Wife/Lawyer Shows, Again? - Revisited

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  • #16
    Re: The Good Wife/Lawyer Shows, Again? - Revisited

    Interesting thread here...

    Re: Reinventing the genre with a different character take on an established genre

    How do you think the writers pitched The Good Wife to get a producer's attention? With such a character intensive show, you couldn't do it in a one-sentence logline, could you? You would need a face-to-face meeting to fully explain it. If you were the writer, how would you have pitched this?

    Whatever pitch they used, it was good enough to attract the interest of a well-known actress, that's for sure.

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    • #17
      Re: The Good Wife/Lawyer Shows, Again? - Revisited

      Originally posted by socalwriter1 View Post
      How do you think the writers pitched The Good Wife to get a producer's attention? With such a character intensive show, you couldn't do it in a one-sentence logline, could you? You would need a face-to-face meeting to fully explain it. If you were the writer, how would you have pitched this?

      Whatever pitch they used, it was good enough to attract the interest of a well-known actress, that's for sure.
      The standard practice for established show creators like the Kings is to tell their agents that they have a pitch to go out with and come development season their agents will set up meetings, maybe first with producing entities (like Scott Free), or sometimes with the studios directly. When producers come on board they will refine the pitch before they shop it to the studios (if they have a first look deal with someone they have to go there first) and then go pitch the networks.

      If the Kings were already signed to an overall deal, then they came up with the idea for the show as a matter of fulfilling their contract. As it happens, Scott Free has a deal with CBS/P (I think), the studio behind the Good Wife, so they may have been the ones to bring the pitch to the studio after hearing it from the Kings.

      Pitching a show generally runs forty-five minutes to an hour. You pitch the concept, the world, the characters, the tone, pertinent backstory, the broad strokes of the pilot episode and then a few concepts for future episodes. Executives will hear many many pitches during development season and writers will have to pitch their show a number of times before getting to the head of the network who has the power to buy.

      Once the networks have filled their slate, mostly with pitches, though they are buying specs pilots from established writers with more frequency, writers turn in outlines of their pilots. Studios will often have writers do many rewrites of these outlines before showing them to the networks, who also will ask for rewrites, and then eventually the writers go to script. For fall network shows, these scripts are usually turned in just before Christmas.

      Come January, the networks pick the pilots they are going to shoot and begin casting. As studios do with writers, networks sign actors to holding deals and then try to pair the talent they have signed with shows they have developed. I have no idea whether Julianna Margulies had a deal with CBS or was a free agent at that point. Alex O'Loughlin, for example, has a deal with CBS which is why you see him repeatedly as the star of CBS shows. They want to make him a star the way they did with Simon Baker.

      Every year certain actors become hot during pilot casting and receive multiple offers. There's been a lot of news about pilot casting in the trades of late. It never ceases to surprise me who has currency on the small screen. Some pilot pick-ups are considered "cast-contingent" meaning they won't get shot unless they find the right actor. Others, they commit to regardless. Established writer/producers can command a "penalty" which means they get millions if the network doesn't shoot their pilot. Nice work if you can get it.

      Come May, as upfronts approach, the networks decide which of the pilots they will pick up to series. Here is when a producer, or producing entity came make a big difference. When Les Moonves has to choose between jimjimgrande's cop show and the one that Jerry Bruckheimer produced, advantage Bruckheimer. Did having Ridley and Tony Scott involved as executive producers influence the Good Wife getting on the air? Probably. Did making it a vehicle for Julianna Margulies make a big difference? I'm betting it did.

      So, while adding a backstory twist to legal drama may have been what people initially sparked to in the pitch, the driving elements that got it on the air likely had more to do with its star and the track records of the writers and producers involved- and of course, the quality of the pilot.
      Last edited by jimjimgrande; 03-06-2010, 11:06 AM.

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      • #18
        Re: The Good Wife/Lawyer Shows, Again? - Revisited

        Great post, jimjim.
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        • #19
          Re: The Good Wife/Lawyer Shows, Again? - Revisited

          I think the original hook was the recent spate of political wives "standing by her man" through a series of so-called sex scandals. That was enough for me to plan to never watch. It was sickening enough watching these little phony dramas play out on the real world stage. No way, I figured--this was entertainment.
          But as others have noted, the writing and the acting just took it all to another level.
          And I love me some Alan Cumming! You gotta love a show that casts him as a snarky, Jewish lawyer!

          (Calm down. I'm Jewish)

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          • #20
            Re: The Good Wife/Lawyer Shows, Again? - Revisited

            the political wife/lawyer thingy is just more of the same with a different character. i haven't even seen it (so i could be wrong lol!) but it just looks like another talking heads show. where is the action? i'm bored already. compare this show to damages. it doesn't come close.

            attracting a-list tv talent is easy. after a few years of not earning a paycheck these people will jump on a show like this. remember that house they bought when the fat checks from the west wing or e.r. were deposited each week? gotta pay those bills.

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            • #21
              Re: The Good Wife/Lawyer Shows, Again? - Revisited

              Thought this Monday's episode was quite good! They really got the "having thoughts about a co-worker" pitch perfect. Also loved the way they left the viewer hanging as to whether the husband is actually "getting religion" or not.

              I think the writing (which has always been good), is getting even better.
              sigpic http://blip.fm/Peasblossom

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              • #22
                Re: The Good Wife/Lawyer Shows, Again? - Revisited

                Originally posted by peasblossom View Post
                Thought this Monday's episode was quite good! They really got the "having thoughts about a co-worker" pitch perfect. Also loved the way they left the viewer hanging as to whether the husband is actually "getting religion" or not.

                I think the writing (which has always been good), is getting even better.
                Agreed, and the threads they leave hanging with the son and Kalinda. (who's she really working for?) are good, solid tv writing, too.

                I'm thinking of a spec ep for it now.
                I'm always right.

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                • #23
                  Re: The Good Wife/Lawyer Shows, Again? - Revisited

                  Originally posted by Chakala View Post
                  Agreed, and the threads they leave hanging with the son and Kalinda. (who's she really working for?) are good, solid tv writing, too.

                  I'm thinking of a spec ep for it now.
                  Yes, that is also a question that has been left hanging (the Kalinda one). Also thought it was funny how it was very subtly implied by the husband's expression at end of Monday's show, that he was perhaps thinking that all his prayer had been the reason he "got lucky". Hence, his surprise when his wife didn't let him sleep in the big bed. Hadn't he prayed enough? Loved it!
                  sigpic http://blip.fm/Peasblossom

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                  • #24
                    Re: The Good Wife/Lawyer Shows, Again? - Revisited

                    I am resurrecting this thread from the depths of 2010 because holy crap was last night's episode phenomenal.

                    If you had never watched the show before, you'd still have been invested in the drama (and understood it), you just love it that much more knowing the backstory and subtext.

                    From one scene to the next, I had no idea who I wanted to root for. Oh no, Will is devastated! But the way he behaved in Alicia's office was so childish. Yay, Alicia is finally acting human instead of cool and inscrutable! Whoa, she is really dancing on the edge of ethical. Yes, screw Cary (all of them). But wait - that health inspector gambit was low. Diane - oh Diane, always out for herself. Well guess what, that doesn't work when you're playing with Peter, who is always out for Peter. And Kalinda is at least a triple agent at this point, I have no idea what she really thinks about anything.

                    It was an excellent hour of storytelling.

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                    • #25
                      Re: The Good Wife/Lawyer Shows, Again? - Revisited

                      Originally posted by bmcthomas View Post
                      I am resurrecting this thread from the depths of 2010 because holy crap was last night's episode phenomenal.

                      If you had never watched the show before, you'd still have been invested in the drama (and understood it), you just love it that much more knowing the backstory and subtext.

                      From one scene to the next, I had no idea who I wanted to root for. Oh no, Will is devastated! But the way he behaved in Alicia's office was so childish. Yay, Alicia is finally acting human instead of cool and inscrutable! Whoa, she is really dancing on the edge of ethical. Yes, screw Cary (all of them). But wait - that health inspector gambit was low. Diane - oh Diane, always out for herself. Well guess what, that doesn't work when you're playing with Peter, who is always out for Peter. And Kalinda is at least a triple agent at this point, I have no idea what she really thinks about anything.
                      It was an excellent hour of storytelling.
                      It was almost Shakespearean, and I don't use that description lightly.

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                      • #26
                        Re: The Good Wife/Lawyer Shows, Again? - Revisited

                        I saw the Kings talk at the WGA earlier this year, and can confirm that yes, it was the Eliot-Spitzer's-wife of it that sold the pitch (this would have been in the fall of 2008) to Scott Free. And Scott Free had a first-look deal with CBS, so that's where they took it.

                        If you watched the first couple seasons as they aired, the storytelling is phenomenal. Looking back from this point, it might all seem a little old hat, because the drama of those first season is greatly reduced if you already know how S4 & 5 unfold. But back when Peter was behind bars, and Will was leaving voicemails like "You want a plan? Here's a plan: I love you." Oof.

                        Structurally, TGW has the longest teasers and first acts of any show I've ever seen. The first commercial break might not show up until ten minute into the hour, at which point you're so hooked that you'd give your right kidney to find out how it ends. And that's not the result of editing -- even the scripts themselves have monster-long teasers and first acts.

                        Another interesting thing I learned @ the WGA event: the legal story comes first, the character comes way, way later. Obviously, it's a show where the character arcs are a big part of the show's appeal, but they break the story twists first and then they figure out how it lands for Alicia et al. In contrast, if you've read any interviews with Vince Gilligan, you know every day the Breaking Bad writers began by asking themselves "Where is Walt/Jesse/Skyler/Hank's head at?"

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                        • #27
                          Re: The Good Wife/Lawyer Shows, Again? - Revisited

                          Episode 15:

                          OMFG!

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                          • #28
                            Re: The Good Wife/Lawyer Shows, Again? - Revisited

                            Originally posted by Why One View Post
                            Episode 15:

                            OMFG!
                            I know! And whod've thought a show could pull off a shock like that these days? Such good secret keepers at CBS.

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                            • #29
                              Re: The Good Wife/Lawyer Shows, Again? - Revisited

                              I know! Definitely didn't see that twist coming.

                              SPOILER ALERT. If you haven't watched, don't keep reading.

                              --------------
                              --------------

                              With how long that individual was planning to leave and how many people must have known, I am shocked that didn't get leaked..

                              Still. Wow. The Good Wife has always been great storytelling. Last night was no exception. I don't think an episode of TV has stuck with me like that one. I have to admit, though, as a viewer, I felt a bit jipped. I wish they'd held off on that twist for just a few episodes longer. They had a good thing going this season with LG vs. Florrick-Agos.

                              Reading fan response is interesting too. I wonder if ratings will take a hit. People seem really upset about what happened. While the show will go on--and the writing is so good that I think the new direction will hook us in--I can't help thinking that (if you watched, you know who) asking to be written out of the show was a mistake. Can you think of any time that an actor or actress leaving a hit television show early has worked out well? It was a huge mistake for Anthony Edwards and Noah Wylie on ER. They're only just now getting their careers back on track (Wylie at least). Katherine Heigl had a few movies that did well after she left Grey's Anatomy-- but lately nothing but bombs. And what about Shelly Long after leaving Cheers? Those actors have never been as popular as they were when on their hit TV show. I hope things work out differently this time.

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                              • #30
                                Re: The Good Wife/Lawyer Shows, Again? - Revisited

                                Also


                                SPOILER ALERT















                                The show now needs another character to add to Alicia's Life, otherwise the drama (in her personal life) is now gone. I vote for a ghost (the ghost of you know who). Perhaps she (and Kalinda) will solve the mystery of the murder. Perhaps not all is as it seemed in the episode.

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