MONDO EXTRAS

The Steve Sicherman Interview

WC: Oh, no! Never. Getting back to the question, though -- it must be hard for you, as someone with a creative background and working so closely with creative people, to have to reconcile that part of your job with the business or financial or political concerns of the studio.

SS: It's a balancing act. As a fan of TV, the first instinct is always, "Woohoo! Let's do it! Let's think out of the box and throw in jugglers and monkeys and the kitchen sink!" But then you have to stop and gather yourself and go, "Okay, but what's this going to cost? And will it be worth it? And where is this show going, anyway?" There's a lot of internal discussion on those kinds of things. If a producer wants to do a larger "event"-type episode or stuntcasting or another big thing that may be really expensive or creatively a bit iffier, I always go back to our casting and media relations and production management gurus for advice: "They want so-and-so to guest on the show. I love it creatively, but it'll cost X and do you guys feel it's worth that? Will we get press out of that?" Depending on the situation, many of these conversations ultimately go up to the Presidents of the studio, who are, obviously, the ultimate arbiters of this stuff.

WC: What about when the whole series is riskier?

SS: Well, you always want something that's unique and fun, creatively. From the exec standpoint, we read hundreds of scripts a year, and reading the same stuff over and over isn't much fun. So you come to really appreciate (a) the standard fare that's done extremely well, and (b) the stuff that's riskier and takes creative chances. At the same time, it's hard to look at the more "out there" projects without wondering, or worrying, "Will enough people like this?"

WC: A lot of the shows that are most beloved by people on the website don't necessarily get the greatest ratings, and then when they get cancelled people are really furious. You have to wonder how there can be such a huge gap between the creative impact that a show can have, and the realities of the business. But also people get really pissed about it.

SS: Oh yeah! And frequently, I totally agree with them. But, you know, it's the old problem -- all this stuff costs money. Writers cost money. Directors, stage rentals, cameras, lights, props, those little Snickers bars at the craft service table...it all costs money. You hope that some of the more adventurous shows will really spark with viewers, and bring more people to the screen. Because when that happens, it's incredibly exciting. And yes, on the business end -- potentially lucrative. That said, whether a show is groundbreaking or the same old same old, you still have to pay the Teamsters the same, the stage rental and props cost the same, the Snickers bars cost the same. So you need to be successful. The home run is a Seinfeld or The Simpsons -- where a show can appeal to a wide variety of people on a wide variety of levels. Thankfully, the people I work with aren't afraid to take a few flyers. But failure is painful because sometimes you get really attached to those shows that are trying to do something new. So you have to balance risk with reward -- and patience -- because sometimes all a risk needs is a little time to become a reward.

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Comments

The Steve Sicherman Interview

WC: Oh, no! Never. Getting back to the question, though -- it must be hard for you, as someone with a creative background and working so closely with creative people, to have to reconcile that part of your job with the business or financial or political concerns of the studio.

SS: It's a balancing act. As a fan of TV, the first instinct is always, "Woohoo! Let's do it! Let's think out of the box and throw in jugglers and monkeys and the kitchen sink!" But then you have to stop and gather yourself and go, "Okay, but what's this going to cost? And will it be worth it? And where is this show going, anyway?" There's a lot of internal discussion on those kinds of things. If a producer wants to do a larger "event"-type episode or stuntcasting or another big thing that may be really expensive or creatively a bit iffier, I always go back to our casting and media relations and production management gurus for advice: "They want so-and-so to guest on the show. I love it creatively, but it'll cost X and do you guys feel it's worth that? Will we get press out of that?" Depending on the situation, many of these conversations ultimately go up to the Presidents of the studio, who are, obviously, the ultimate arbiters of this stuff.

WC: What about when the whole series is riskier?

SS: Well, you always want something that's unique and fun, creatively. From the exec standpoint, we read hundreds of scripts a year, and reading the same stuff over and over isn't much fun. So you come to really appreciate (a) the standard fare that's done extremely well, and (b) the stuff that's riskier and takes creative chances. At the same time, it's hard to look at the more "out there" projects without wondering, or worrying, "Will enough people like this?"

WC: A lot of the shows that are most beloved by people on the website don't necessarily get the greatest ratings, and then when they get cancelled people are really furious. You have to wonder how there can be such a huge gap between the creative impact that a show can have, and the realities of the business. But also people get really pissed about it.

SS: Oh yeah! And frequently, I totally agree with them. But, you know, it's the old problem -- all this stuff costs money. Writers cost money. Directors, stage rentals, cameras, lights, props, those little Snickers bars at the craft service table...it all costs money. You hope that some of the more adventurous shows will really spark with viewers, and bring more people to the screen. Because when that happens, it's incredibly exciting. And yes, on the business end -- potentially lucrative. That said, whether a show is groundbreaking or the same old same old, you still have to pay the Teamsters the same, the stage rental and props cost the same, the Snickers bars cost the same. So you need to be successful. The home run is a Seinfeld or The Simpsons -- where a show can appeal to a wide variety of people on a wide variety of levels. Thankfully, the people I work with aren't afraid to take a few flyers. But failure is painful because sometimes you get really attached to those shows that are trying to do something new. So you have to balance risk with reward -- and patience -- because sometimes all a risk needs is a little time to become a reward.

Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22Next

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