A network note I respected



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  • A network note I respected

    One time my writing partner, David Isaacs and I got a network note that we didn’t necessarily agree with. These were second draft notes on a pilot we had written for Fox.

    The premise was sort of in the DEVIL WEARS PRADA arena. A hugely successful but terribly intimating media giant queen hires three young bright assistants but plans to only keep two. So it’s all about competition set in a swank New York skyscraper.

    The note from Fox was this: Add a hot babe. I was somewhat thrown by this. “Where?” I asked, “there’s no real organic reason for adding a bombshell to a sophisticated corporate environment. These people are all Aaron Sorkins.”

    They said, “We know. She doesn’t have to be in the corporation. We don’t care where you put her, but we want a super hot girl in the show?”

    “Why?” we asked.

    Their answer: “Because this is Fox.”

    I said, “Okay, I have to applaud you for your honesty.” It also ended all push-back. Clearly this was not an argument we were going to win. But at least we knew why.

    We decided she would could be the waitress at the first-floor coffee shop, which we had to invent. We then took one of the scenes between the battling assistants and set it in the coffee shop, bringing the hot waitress over two or three times.

    Fox was happy. The president didn’t pick up the show ultimately, but they were happy.

    A couple of years later NBC bought the pilot. (One of my favorite things in the world — getting paid twice for the same script.) They had one note. Take out the useless hot waitress and do that scene up in the office building.

    I hate when you get notes with hidden agendas that networks try to cover up by saying they’re artistic concerns. Fox at least told it like it is. I have to tell you, it was a lot easier addressing that note when we knew the real reason for it.