A New Life for ‘Wonderland’
January 11, 2009 8:21 PM
DirecTV soon may have to change the name of The 101 to PeterBergTV.
Last fall, the satellite service generated decent buzz—and endless amounts of goodwill among TV fans—when it aired the third season of Mr. Berg’s “Friday Night Lights.” Now The 101 is making room for another one of Mr. Berg’s creations. Starting Jan. 14 at 10 p.m., it will begin airing weekly episodes of “Wonderland,” the edgy, somewhat controversial medical drama that aired just twice in 2000 before ABC pulled the plug. In addition to the two previously broadcast hours, The 101 will air six episodes of the series that have never been shown anywhere. “I was just visiting with [DirecTV executive] Eric Shanks and we were talking about how great things were going with ‘Friday Night Lights,’” Mr. Berg told Blink last week from New York. “We were talking and it just occurred to me that there were these eight episodes of what I think is some of my best work sitting on a shelf, so I just pitched him the idea.” Mr. Berg sent Mr. Shanks copies of the “Wonderland” episodes, and got a quick “yes” in response. Of course, DirecTV had to do some negotiating with ABC Studios, which owns the rights to “Wonderland,” but Mr. Berg said the studio was “very classy” in terms of making a deal financially feasible for DirecTV. DirecTV’s deal could pave the way for a DVD release of the show. What’s more, Mr. Berg said he can actually see some scenarios in which “Wonderland”—which featured cameos by Samuel L. Jackson and Jeremy Piven—might be revived with original episodes. “Just a few months ago, I would have said these episodes airing on DirecTV was an impossibility,” he said. “What’s so interesting about the TV business today is that we’re seeing a revolution in distribution. Anything can happen.”