Sometimes Those Who Teach Can Also Do
CB: Then you took a staff writing position at Dawson's Creek. ["Thomas wrote 'Kiss (A Prelude To A Kiss)' and 'Road Trip (In The Company Of Men).'" -- Wing Chun] I don't know if you know this, but Television Without Pity's first incarnation was Dawson's Wrap, which was just our two co-founders writing recaps of Dawson's Creek. You might not be shocked to hear they weren't all that complimentary.
RT: [laughs] I didn't know that! Well, the really funny thing is, I've never even seen a whole episode of that show.
CB: [laughs] Well, good for you!
RT: I'd watch for my name in the credits, but that's about it. That show was very good for me at the time, though, in that it enabled me to pay off some large credit-card debt and buy a house. I was making three thousand bucks a week to be on staff. But it wasn't a great atmosphere. There was a lot of upheaval at the top of the show -- Kevin Williamson was in and out and working on movies and was very involved at some points and not involved at all at others, and they fired the first showrunner they brought in -- it didn't make for a good working environment.
CB: And then came Cupid. A lot of our forum posters still mourn the loss of that show. Tough time slot, eh?
RT: It was a tough time slot. That show was an interesting example of what happens when you have a novice creator. The network brought in a writing team, plus two executive producers to do the showrunning, but by Episode 8, they had fired the EPs, so then I was running everything. I wasn't quite as upset as you might expect when it was canceled, although if I'd known the dry spell I was going to hit after that, I would have been.
CB: Speaking of EPs, how did you and Joel Silver hook up to do this show?
:Rob Thomas: Joel has two people who run his television department. Most of his work is in film, clearly, but he would love to start producing more shows, like [Jerry] Bruckheimer, to have a TV empire hand-in-hand with his film empire. I worked with one of the two women running his TV department on Cupid, and liked and respected her, and I had met the other woman, and felt the same way about her. The way the marriage between Joel and me worked was that I had the script that UPN had already bought. I could have chosen not to partner up with anyone, but my agent, who also represented Joel, made a very compelling case for the partnership, because UPN wanted it. It would give me more leverage and clout, and also Joel is a real marketing guy. Plus, we had the potential to use his film connections to get better directors and stuntcasting and that sort of thing. There was upside to it. And I have to say that we were barely picked up. They knew they were going to pick up Kevin Hill, so the other six UPN pilots knew that they were competing for the one other slot. It came down to us and one other show, and we barely got the nod. So I'm not sure the show would even be on without Joel.