It was during my late teenage years that I broadened my ambitions from making movies to wanting to create and write for TV as well. It's pretty easy for me to look at two big factors that pushed me in this direction. The first was the crop of solid dramas coming out of NBC at the time: Law & Order, ER and Homicide were the shows that made me realize how much depth and complexity TV could have. Even today, I still consider the stories I saw them tell to be very influential on my own work.
The second wave of shows that spoke to me creatively were a large number of the dramas on the WB: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dawson's Creek, Angel, and Gilmore Girls, to name just a few. The NBC dramas tended to explore adult characters in very institutional settings like hospitals and DA offices. The WB told stories about younger characters, sometimes with a high-concept trapping and sometimes without. But it's impossible to look at The WB's most successful shows and see not only some of the most original shows of the last 25 years, but some of the most celebrated creators as well. That was the training ground for guys like Joss Whedon and J.J. Abrams.
This is why I was drawn to the book Season Finale: The Unexpected Rise and Fall of the WB and UPN. It's written by Susanne Daniels, who was one of the executives who built the WB and was with it for much of its run, and Cynthia Littleton, a longtime reporter for Variety. Together, their perspectives add up to a fascinating period of TV history. For me, personally, it also convinced me that Daniels is an incredibly sharp executive and that one of my goals is to work for her on a series.
And right now, Amazon is selling the Kindle version of this book for a mere 99 cents! Trust me, it's well worth the price. You can find it here.
At present, Daniels is the programming president over at MTV, a position she's held for just under two years. It's a good fit, as MTV has made a lot of strides in recent years to filling the void left by the WB. With shows like Teen Wolf and Awkward, it's perhaps as much or more of a successor to that network than the CW itself is. The CW has managed to launch a lot of genre hits, but it's struggled to really build a block of Gilmore Girls-like shows. I don't know if the CW would be able to make a show like Awkward work, but it's lasted a while on MTV and allowed them to launch faking it.
Plus I just like the way Daniels doesn't have the narrow view of her viewers or the network's brand identity that you sometimes find in programming chiefs. An interesting interview with THR last year yielded this quote:
"One of the things that I love about MTV, maybe my very favorite thing is that it's a youthful, contemporary brand but at the end of the day those are my only constraints, if you will. And those don't feel like constraints because I love programming for teens and young adults. After that, anything goes because this millennia is very interested in so many different things and watches and likes so many different things. We find in our research that millennials are big into food and I have two projects in development right now that are food-related reality projects. They're into style and they're into giving back. There's so many arenas and genres that we can develop that will excite our audience and that makes it very exciting for me as a development executive."
Trust me, this will be 99 cents well spent. Click on over to Amazon and buy it now.