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Guest Message by DevFuse

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Network execs: "CSI" and "ER" almost didn't get on the schedule


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#1 OFFLINE   phrelin

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 11:53 AM

As we get closer to the Upfronts for the 2012-13 TV season, Secrets of the Networks' Scheduling Rooms provides an interesting background:

First impressions CSI was an afterthought at CBS in 2000, as all of the attention was lavished on a reboot of The Fugitive. There was even talk that the pilot might not be screened by execs, partly because of the dark subject matter. "There was concern about it being too gory, and it was almost written off," says one exec. But strong test results got the show on the air. How unsure were execs? Even after CBS picked it up, Disney, which originally developed the show under its Touchstone TV banner, dropped out— believing there was no chance that CSI would be worth the investment. Oops.

Another show that might not have made it to air is NBC's ER in 1994. As former entertainment president Warren Littlefield recounts in his new book, Top of the Rock. Littlefield says his boss, then-NBC West Coast president Don Ohlmeyer, wasn't a fan, and the show was potentially DOA — until testing results came back, and the positive reaction was through the roof. Says another exec who was there: "Ohlmeyer hated ER. He didn't like it and Homicide was going there. [ER] was dead. Then it became the highest testing of all time." In 1996, The Pretender wasn't even initially screened at the network, but the show wound up being the highest-testing pilot since ER and that was enough to make the grade. "I believe in testing," says one exec. "It matters more than people want to admit. I do think it's a mistake not to listen to what viewers are telling you."

It's an interesting article and makes me wonder what we never got to see....

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#2 OFFLINE   trainman

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Posted 06 May 2012 - 12:14 PM

It's an interesting article and makes me wonder what we never got to see....


Look up a book called "Unsold TV Pilots: The Greatest Shows You Never Saw" by Lee Goldberg -- appears that the most recent edition is only available for Kindle, but you can probably find an older edition at the library.
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