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Hunger For Fresh Material
June 26, 2012 11:01 PM   Subscribe

The Big Picture: Hollywood's creative talent wants to be on cable. 'A decade ago, a host of studios and specialty divisions were making and buying movies, but only a handful of cable and pay TV outlets commissioned original programming. But today there's a huge array of cable TV outlets making shows. In film, many specialty divisions have disappeared, and independents have merged, so the number of studio buyers has shrunk dramatically.'

'"Nearly every major filmmaker I know is either involved with TV now or wants to be," said Mark Johnson, a veteran film producer ("Rain Man" and "Chronicles of Narnia") who produces the acclaimed AMC series"Breaking Bad." "The economics are just so much better. You only need a couple of million viewers to justify your existence, so you don't have a huge financial guillotine hanging over your head like in film."'

'"On cable, a big hit draws 5 million viewers, but you can sustain a show with 2 million people watching its first airing," writer Matt Nix says. "That means that what counts is having viewers who are passionately committed to their show. And the way to do that is to program a show that is 100% what it aims to be and allow the show runners to embrace all their idiosyncrasies, just as they'd do if they were making an independent film."

In other words, the shows that have intensely loyal followings, from "Mad Men" and "Breaking Bad" to "Girls" and "Game of Thrones,"are the ones that aren't trying to be all things to all people. "It's hard not to make a connection between 'Breaking Bad,' which is about a guy who's a meth dealer, and a film like "Reservoir Dogs,'" Nix says. "They are, by nature, very personal, niche experiences that can't exist in a universe where they have to appeal to every family in the living room or every kid at the multiplex."

To use Hollywood Speak, we might call today's cable hits one-quadrant TV shows, freed from the soul-killing ordeal of having to appeal to everyone parked in front of a plasma screen. And because the shows only need a relatively small audience to achieve hit status, they are free to challenge viewers with far more nuanced characters and complex story lines.'
posted by VikingSword (51 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Weren't they calling this "narrow-casting" a decade or so ago?
posted by KingEdRa at 11:35 PM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


And because the shows only need a relatively small audience to achieve hit status, they are free to challenge viewers with far more nuanced characters and complex story lines.'

Smaller audience, smaller budget, tighter restrictions.
So, no bigga-badda-boom SFX-based shows.
You might have to rely on plot and character.

Hmmm.

Struggling to see a downside.

Although GRRM lamented the restrictions in writing Blackwater to a budget. Interesting trned, though.
posted by Mezentian at 11:48 PM on June 26, 2012


*trend.
(My kingdom for an edit window).
posted by Mezentian at 11:49 PM on June 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


As someone who has conventionally held almost zero artistic respect for the medium of television, I have to admit we're in the middle of a genuine renaissance. I don't think there's ever been a time that so many high-quality shows have been available all at once. Given the simultaneous (and disastrous) drop in the quality of films over the last decade, I honestly think television has eclipsed the latter in terms of artistic merit, which is frankly something I never saw coming.

There is practically nothing drawing me to the theaters these days. I've seen no more than one film a year for maybe five years running, and I can't say I enjoyed any of them. But I can run off a list of incredible television series I've seen (and loved) over the same time period. Given the huge difference in quality, it's no wonder the talent wants to move towards television.

I won't pretend to know why things have become as they are, but I'm very tempted to reach for my go-to conclusion; that big money ruins every single thing it touches.
posted by dephlogisticated at 11:56 PM on June 26, 2012 [7 favorites]


big money ruins every single thing it touches.

This, but the opposite.

Money, actually, is why people want to work in television. In the 2000's before the writer's strike, employment for feature writers under guild contracts rested at about 2000 per year. After the writer's strike, that number plummeted by 20% -- 1600 last year. Numbers will come out for this year in a few weeks. I shudder to think what they'll be. Interestingly, wages have increased, but this is because the younger, cheaper writers (the ones without proven track records of hit movies) have been squeezed out, so the only ones left are the expensive writers. (You'd think this would mean studios would want to spend less money on cheaper talent, but it doesn't -- they want brands they can sell to their bosses. "Michael Arndt is for the comic book thing, and then this other writer Callie Khourie is doing a polish on the kids-fight-aliens thing, it'll be great." All they're trying to do is keep their jobs, and hiring big-shot name-brand writers means that if the kids-aliens thing turns out terrible, he can say "But how was I supposed to know? I got Callie Khourie, for Christ's sake!")

Television writing jobs have eroded, but not nearly as much, and the reason for this is simple: advertising on television has stayed rather steady, and so wages haven't declined and jobs haven't (really) declined. I think we're down 3 or 4% since the 2000's? I don't have those numbers off the top of my head.

So yeah, television is creatively great and caters more to writers and allows writers to do more of whatever we want to do but ... it's also where the money is. So when an agent or manager says to a client "Hey, you should really think about getting into TV, you'd have so much creative freedom!" the conversation is actually "Hey, you should really think about getting into TV, you could make so much money as opposed to right now where you booked six short deals that won't cover your kid's dentist bills!"

Old jokes: Feature writers are thin and poor. TV writers are fat and rich.
Feature writers can't get their agents on the phone. Agents can't get their TV writers on the phone.
posted by incessant at 12:17 AM on June 27, 2012 [12 favorites]


That's an interesting description of how things are for writers these days. But where does the creative freedom that has produced this current TV renaissance come from? Is it just the sheer volume of shows being developed now, meaning there's inevitably going to be a larger number of standouts? Why is a show like Breaking Bad able to find success now instead of 10 years ago? I've been figuring that the increasing quality of cable dramas is something of a reaction to what HBO started around a decade ago, under a model free of advertising that encouraged specific creative visions, and which proved that more challenging and idiosyncratic shows that respected the intelligence of the audience could find popularity and [profitable] buzz without having to appeal to all forty quadrants or whatever. But I'm something of an HBO fanboy at this point.
posted by palidor at 12:59 AM on June 27, 2012


advertising on television has stayed rather steady

Impossible. Evil pirates are stealing our jobs!

But, seriously: Is that across the board - pay vs free-to-air?
I have no idea how pay TV works, but I do know from people's jokes that there is advertising on Pay TV even though you pay not to have ads.

I was interested in this sentence:
Unlike reruns or reality shows, original programming also generates additional revenue from DVD sales and Netflix licensing.

The DVD box set market probably didn't start existing until a little over 10 years ago. I'm interested in how much those sort of residual income streams are affecting the desire to make cohesive, season-long stories ala True Blood, AGOT etc over more lumpy, disconnected shows of yore, and how stuff like Law and Order sells on DVD compared to cable shows.

I know no person who has ever paid to see an episode of AGOT at the time of broadcast, but many who have picked up the boxed sets as and when they have become available.
posted by Mezentian at 2:12 AM on June 27, 2012


'"On cable, a big hit draws 5 million viewers, but you can sustain a show with 2 million people watching its first airing,"

Those kinds of numbers sound impressive until you realize that this YouTube video of a cat sticking its head in box has had over 14 million views.
posted by twoleftfeet at 3:05 AM on June 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


Personally, I'd take a short snappy film over 24 weeks of rolling story any day of the week. This explains why I'm seeing so many famous film actors turning up in stuff on Sky Atlantic HD these days. It sounds like a lot of these producers are taking the lazy route to me, and despite this so called renaissance, TV is still a small medium despite the big themes it takes on. Show me something on TV that has the scope and intensity of something like Apocalypse Now or Blade Runner, and I will reassess, but at the moment, the budget's not there to provide that kind of spectacle.

That said, having been involved with an indie film, I'm also seeing the downside of film and what's driving this move to TV. It's the cable / on demand side of the market where most of the profit (if there's any) is going to be for us.
posted by DayTM at 3:07 AM on June 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's obvious why Hollywood is envious of TV. Those guys get to make a sequel every week!
posted by tylermoody at 3:31 AM on June 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


Show me something on TV that has the scope and intensity of something like Apocalypse Now or Blade Runner, and I will reassess...

It's interesting that you picked two films that are over 30 years old. I don't think it's impossible that the film industry can make pictures like that today, but they haven't been doing it for quite a while.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:46 AM on June 27, 2012 [11 favorites]


The article seems a little pollyannish about the ease with which edgy indie dramas get accepted by noble and deeply experimental cable TV outlets. Not quite feeling that as much as the author appears to. This was an interesting point, though:

The rise of new media has also helped cable replicate the communal experience of moviegoing, with TV show devotees turning television viewing into a participatory experience...
posted by mediareport at 4:44 AM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


The article seems a little pollyannish about the ease with which edgy indie dramas get accepted by noble and deeply experimental cable TV outlets.

Compared to previous years, I'd say we're still in that mode -- there's no way "The Killing" gets 26 episodes even five years ago, but AMC should get some credit for being noble and experimental, if only because they seemed to feel a responsibility to finish the series with the original creator rather than firing Veena Sud after the first season.
posted by Etrigan at 5:18 AM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's almost a shame that Nix's second show (The Good Guys) went to cable (Fox) instead of USA. It didn't do well enough in ratings for Fox to keep it around, and it lasted but a season, despite being probably one of the funnest shows ever (c'mon: the Bradley Whitford mustache!).
posted by General Malaise at 5:21 AM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Show me something on TV that has the scope and intensity of something like Apocalypse Now or Blade Runner...

Battlestar Galactica.
posted by Etrigan at 5:26 AM on June 27, 2012 [8 favorites]


there's no way "The Killing" gets 26 episodes even five years ago, but AMC should get some credit for being noble and experimental, if only because they seemed to feel a responsibility to finish the series with the original creator rather than firing Veena Sud after the first season.

On the other hand, with Rubicon, in my opinion one of the most interesting shows to ever be released on any medium, AMC deserves no credit for dropping its creator and original showrunner when they were scared the amazingly-slowly-paced plot was going too slowly. It immediately changed the intense tone of the show and a lot of the threads were just dropped.
posted by General Malaise at 5:30 AM on June 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Show me any other film that has the scope and intensity of Apocalypse Now. No one's dropping napalm on acres of jungle for an opening sequence these days.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:31 AM on June 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


No one's dropping napalm on acres of jungle for an opening sequence these days.

Nowadays you can do it with CGI and even a TV outfit in Vancouver can do a very convincing Earth-shattering Kaboom.
posted by localroger at 5:37 AM on June 27, 2012


Television writing jobs have eroded, but not nearly as much, and the reason for this is simple: advertising on television has stayed rather steady, and so wages haven't declined and jobs haven't (really) declined.

On the other hand, network TV is besieged with "reality" shows.

Which could also explain why everyone's heading for cable - cable networks are the only ones doing scripted programming, it seems.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:49 AM on June 27, 2012


Burn Notice doesn't exactly fit my idea of the benefits of creative freedom due to being on cable. That show could very easily be on regular TV where it would be called something like NCIS:Miami.
posted by srboisvert at 5:50 AM on June 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Srboisvert, I disagree. Even though Burn Notice has a lot of elements in common with network shows, it has, in the end, very little in common with NCIS. Burn Notice, I feel, has a lot of complex plot arcs, interesting character development, and politically, I think, it has more in common with Canadian shows than something as "rah rah Amercia [sic]" as NCIS.
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 6:07 AM on June 27, 2012


And there are several formulaic cable shows as well - look at the host of "mismatched partners wot do ______" shows. USA even has a formula they stick to.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:14 AM on June 27, 2012


Outside of a few indy and foreign films Movies really are all formulaic crap these days, McKeeified to within an inch if their lives - and that goes for the serious Oscar bait as much as the genre stuff.

TV is where smart writers would want to be now.
posted by Artw at 6:29 AM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Show me something on TV that has the scope and intensity of something like Apocalypse Now or Blade Runner...

Battlestar Galactica.


You're going to get some people giving you crap because the show lost focus towards the end and the last episode was so very, very bad, but at the star, when it was good, that was such a great show. I'd love to see more TV tackling SF with that degree of seriousness.
posted by Artw at 6:33 AM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


TV is where smart writers would want to be now.

Unless you're, say, Tom McCarthy, who somehow manages to make beautifully smart and brilliantly constructed indie films that the writers of Breaking "shit I guess we better have one of the characters do something stupid to keep this thing going for a few more weeks" Bad couldn't dream of doing in their current medium.

Positing series television as the be-all-and-end-all of storytelling is seriously problematic, at best. There are a ton of amazingly interesting new films out there by neat new directors who aren't beholden to the weekly bullshit of series TV.
posted by mediareport at 6:46 AM on June 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Last year I can only think of two films that I would call anyway near great and that's Drive and The Guard... I'm struggling to think of any this year. Count that against hours of great television like Breaking Bad, Treme, Boardwalk Empire etc. Even British television drama which has been in the doldrums for years is starting to pick up a bit lately

Think the main problem is that films are mainly marketed to the young who Hollywood seems to assume are all morons so we get brainless CGI action, witless comedies and formulaic comedies. All the 'adults' who back in the 70s, 80s, and even 90s might have gone down the cinema are all sat on their couches in front of their wide-screen cable tvs.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:51 AM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Today's best cable shows are making TV you have to watch with both eyeballs or you won't follow what's going on," said Nix.

This is actually a really interesting point. I like to keep Netflix running while I'm working, because I find the background noise of a television program without commercials helps me relax, and is actually less distracting than the radio. Radio has too many distracting tempo changes.

But in order to do this, I have to use netflix to watch old TV shows or cheesy network shows. Recent quality TV shows command too much attention and brain power to use as background fodder for my workday. Currently, my workday TV series is Quantum Leap -- you always know pretty much what's going to happen from the first few seconds of the show, and the catch phrases and stock structures keep you oriented in the show even if you're not really paying attention. Outside of sweeps week episodes, House was really great for this, too.

On the other hand, I only watch Justified or MI-5 when I have time to actually sit down and watch television without any distraction more consequential than eating dinner, because if you aren't paying attention at every moment, you probably have no idea what the hell is happening, and that makes it harder to tune out and get on with working.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:51 AM on June 27, 2012


I'd love to see more TV tackling SF with that degree of seriousness.

I get the sense that there's an internal fight at The Channel Formerly Known As Sci-Fi over this. "Alphas" in particular seems capable of twisting in some really great directions but keeps getting yanked back to Monster Of The Week stuff, slowly stretching the Eureka-Warehouse 13 goofiness into deeper realms (I admit, I may be dazzled by David Strathairn classing up the joint).

And if you haven't caught "The Lost Room," find it on DVD.
posted by Etrigan at 6:55 AM on June 27, 2012


Television can be greatly entertaining, but it's still television. It doesn't dare awaken you or break from the standard cultural hegemony because it doesn't want to scare (or bore) you out of watching the rest of the season. That's why there will never be anything on television to equal the films of Haneke, Malick, Tarkovsky, Bresson etc.

I'm not saying television is entirely without merit. But there is a ceiling inherent to it as a medium.
posted by gonna get a dog at 7:01 AM on June 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah, Indy films are a thing, art films are a thing. They still make them, just about. If you are into the half dozen of those they make that are worth watching then knock yourself out, but that isn't really what this conversation is about.
posted by Artw at 7:08 AM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Show me something on TV that has the scope and intensity of something like Apocalypse Now or Blade Runner...

Battlestar Galactica.


The first two seasons, sure. After that it had the scope and intensity of Barbarella.
posted by adamdschneider at 7:30 AM on June 27, 2012


Yeah, Indy films are a thing, art films are a thing. They still make them, just about. If you are into the half dozen of those they make that are worth watching then knock yourself out, but that isn't really what this conversation is about.

I'm responding to the implicit suggestion that cable TV is the evolution of cinema. My response is that it isn't.
posted by gonna get a dog at 7:33 AM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, and my problem with television is my problem with, say, X-Men comics. With no defined end, they'll keep going long after they should have quit, and after a while start to look like they'll do anything to stick around. No story can go on forever.
posted by adamdschneider at 7:34 AM on June 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Interesting to hear from some that money is why people are moving to cable teevee. On my side of the fence, network, cable is the place you go to trade money for artistic freedom. Non-serialized family-friendly syndicadable programming is still the ticket to ride for a writer in Hollywood. And while there are amazing shows on cable, there's also a lot of bad programs that aren't niche because they're challenging but because they are bad.

Still, places like FX and AMC are my dream bosses. But certainly not for the money.
posted by Bookhouse at 7:55 AM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


So what do network TV writers make these days?
posted by adamdschneider at 8:21 AM on June 27, 2012


That's why there will never be anything on television to equal the films of Haneke, Malick, Tarkovsky, Bresson etc.

How about Bergman and Kieślowski?
posted by shakespeherian at 8:33 AM on June 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Seriously I'm expecting at any moment someone to say, "Is this something that I need a TV to understand?"
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 8:39 AM on June 27, 2012


I'm responding to the implicit suggestion that cable TV is the evolution of cinema. My response is that it isn't.

I'm not sure that the evolution of cinema is a thing that exists. They are separate formats with desperate sensibilities that are always going to be different because of that.

The question is, of you are serious about getting a job telling stories which of those should you go into? The answet used to be film, as television was a silly comercially driven enterprise and film was "great art" - though of course at the end of the day they're both businesses. These days that's flipped over - TV is still a business, but it's a business that's got some sembelance of respect for writing, but mainstream film is a sausage factory - ideas and writing are not a big thing there. Story is for the most part something that comes out of a book called Story.

That someone managed to make The Station Agent in 2003 is nice but does not refute this trend.
posted by Artw at 8:47 AM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


So what do network TV writers make these days?

Well, "network TV writer" is a very loose term, as the starting staff writer probably makes around a tenth of what a senior Executive Producer makes (Executive Producer being a loose term, but here I'm talking about a senior writer with executive duties). Between staff writers and Executive Producers are story editors, co-producers, and other rungs up the ladder. So there's a giant range in pay.

The realio trulio money is for the show creator, the person who wrote the pilot. They are often also the show runner. They can make millions of dollars a season from salary alone, plus script fees for every episode that they personally write. They will also get residual payments for every rerun, and if the show should produce enough episodes to go into syndication, the show runner cashes in big time. We're talking tens to hundreds of millions of dollars. (See Larry David). It's probably the most money a person can make for being a writer outside of JK Rowling.

But even for the lower level writers, network is more lucrative. Most writers are paid on a per-episode basis (that's number of episodes produced per season). So obviously a writer on a twelve-episode show is going to make less than a writer on a show that does twenty four a year. There's also a better deal for rerun residuals on networks. And while they don't get the sacks of money a show creator does, every writer benefits when their show goes into syndication. So, a rough ballpark figure I have heard bandied about is that a steadily employed cable writer will make 1/3 of what a network writer on the same level will make.
posted by Bookhouse at 8:48 AM on June 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Show me something on TV that has the scope and intensity of something like Apocalypse Now or Blade Runner...

Game of Thrones?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:02 AM on June 27, 2012


Modern movies are not in the business of giving you something with the scope or intensity of Apocalypse Now or Blade Runner.
posted by Artw at 9:23 AM on June 27, 2012


The question is, of you are serious about getting a job telling stories which of those should you go into? The answet used to be film, as television was a silly comercially driven enterprise and film was "great art" - though of course at the end of the day they're both businesses. These days that's flipped over - TV is still a business, but it's a business that's got some sembelance of respect for writing, but mainstream film is a sausage factory - ideas and writing are not a big thing there. Story is for the most part something that comes out of a book called Story.

TV doesn't have respect for writing, it just doesn't have time to disrespect it. Turnaround times are too short for extensive second guessing and heavy meddling by higher-ups. But pilot episodes are as creatively compromised and focus grouped as any movie script. The important difference is that pilots can open as many narrative and thematic gateways as they like without having to worry about closing them until many episodes later. They don't need to contain a perfect whole as a film does.

The strength of film is that it doesn't need story. It doesn't even need characters with psychology. Fundamentally, it's a series of images creating an actual impression of time, and what takes place in that time is limitless. Whereas TV is fundamentally an IV drip of escapist pleasure, even if it's socially conscious like The Wire, and so it relies entirely on comforting structures.

Of course, if we're only talking about big budget (or even low budget) Hollywood movies, the TV/film comparison is less flattering to film. But those films are only 10% cinema and 90% monolithic marketing engine anyway.

And you're right, this is a bit of a digression from the real topic here. Sorry!
posted by gonna get a dog at 9:28 AM on June 27, 2012


TV doesn't have respect for writing, it just doesn't have time to disrespect it. Turnaround times are too short for extensive second guessing and heavy meddling by higher-ups. But pilot episodes are as creatively compromised and focus grouped as any movie script.

You overestimate the amount of time it takes for an executive to meddle with a teevee script. Many shows are noted to death, have scripts thrown out and rewritten at the last minutes, and suffer all sorts of executive meddling. I know one cable channel that is famous in the industry for all of the showrunners who pledge never to work for them again after having their shows ruined by executives. On the other hand, FX is known for not really handing out notes. I recently listened to an executive from FX talking to a comedy showrunner (I don't know who; I was just eavesdropping) about how the network doesn't understand why other studios give notes to comedy writers, because executives like himself weren't funny. And that's not just talk. Louis and It's Always Sunny receive very little input from the network.

Personally, I think lumping Hollywood blockbusters and Stan Brakhage into one category and television into another is false. I'd say experiential cinema and Hollywood blockbusters are as different from each other as television is from either of them.
posted by Bookhouse at 9:54 AM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


> But where does the creative freedom that has produced this current TV renaissance come from?

My personal opinion: it is the FCC's lack of ability to tightly regulate content on cable-only channels.

Years ago I found I couldn't stand watching crime dramas on network TV where bad guys were incapable of swearing convincingly.

Just the occasional real-life cuss word goes a long ways towards enhancing the illusion in drama.
posted by mmrtnt at 12:07 PM on June 27, 2012


Or you could do The Wire Season 1's "fuck" scene, which I think iDisk probably better than anything we've seen in a crime film this decade.
posted by Artw at 1:32 PM on June 27, 2012


Just the occasional real-life cuss word goes a long ways towards enhancing the illusion in drama.

I'm going to hshow you an NCIS scene with a couple cuss words thrown in and we'll see how far that duck flies.
posted by incessant at 1:43 PM on June 27, 2012


Burn Notice doesn't exactly fit my idea of the benefits of creative freedom due to being on cable. That show could very easily be on regular TV where it would be called something like NCIS:Miami.

I actually think Burn Notice would do really poorly on Network television, because it has such a warm lighthearted doesn't-take-itself-seriously sensibility, whereas SO MANY network shows try to hit you over the head with their own import.

Burn Notice is a funny, goofy, lovely little show that basically plays out like a ten-year-old boy's idea of what it would be like to be The Coolest Secret Agent Ever. I think its episodes exercise the kind of creative freedom that you get in serialized pulp stories -- breezy romps, well made -- rather than constantly attempting to justify its own existence by shouting, "LOOK, WE'RE DEALING WITH SCIENCE MURDER RAPE FAITH TORTURE FURROWED BROWS RIPPED FROM THE HEADLINES," which is how I feel about a lot of the CSI-type shows.
posted by Greg Nog at 1:56 PM on June 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Burn Notice is a funny, goofy, lovely little show that basically plays out like a ten-year-old boy's idea of what it would be like to be The Coolest Secret Agent Ever.

That seems to be USA's entire programming strategy. Replace "Secret Agent" with "Lawyer" and you have Suits. Replace it with "Doctor" and you have Royal Pains. "Private Detective" -- Psych. It's a soap-bubble programming strategy.

And I love it.
posted by Etrigan at 2:08 PM on June 27, 2012


That seems to be USA's entire programming strategy.

I was going to bring up Franklin and Bash, but I guess it's on TNT instead. And is more like a horny 14 year-old's idea of what it would be like to be a hotshot lawyer.
posted by Copronymus at 3:11 PM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


That someone managed to make The Station Agent in 2003 is nice but does not refute this trend.

No, of course not - although McCarthy (a solid pick for Top 3 writer in the movie business at this moment) made Win Win just a year or so ago. I was just responding to what I saw as a bit of an overstatement from you: "TV is where smart writers would want to be now."

Just pointing out that the obvious limitations of series TV - and come on, there are serious fucking limitations to working in series TV if you're trying to tell a solid story with a thoughtful beginning, middle and end, however you choose to define those - may actually *not* look like the best place to want to be right now for every smart writer.
posted by mediareport at 3:42 PM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, and Artw, I'm assuming that your focus on the 2003 movie I linked instead of the 2011 movie I linked means you haven't yet seen Win Win. If so, I think you'd like it. It's a smartly written, small-scale family drama in which everyone consistently behaves kinda sorta like a real human being. If you like that, you'll like the film.
posted by mediareport at 3:58 PM on June 27, 2012


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