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James Hibberd

'Studio 30,' or Maybe '60 Crack'

July 21, 2006 4:26 PM

When Aaron Sorkin, creator of NBC’s behind-the-scenes-of-a-late-night-sketch-show series “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip,” was asked about the network’s other behind-the-scenes-of-a-late-night-sketch-show series at his press tour session Friday morning, he innocently replied, “I haven’t heard that title before.”

There’s no conflict between him and “30 Rock” creator Tina Fey, or creatively between the two series.

“I’m going to take Tina’s ideas, use twice as many words and turn it into my show,” he said.

One critic asked Sorkin if he was going after specific shows in the pilot’s opening scene, when an executive producer on the sketch show has a “Network” moment and rants live on the air about how bad TV is, mentioning people eating worms and watching Donald Trump.

“You’re probably talking about ‘Fear Factor’ and ‘The Apprentice,’” Sorkin said, spelling out exactly what the critic was getting to. “To be perfectly honest I have never seen either. Vocationally I have a problem with unscripted.”

Calling TV “a terrifically influential part of this country,” Sorkin said mean-spirited and voyeuristic programming is like “bad crack in the school yard.”

Immediately Sorkin had regrets on his choice of words—probably related to his very public past struggles with illicit pharmaceuticals.

“Why did I use that word?” he asked.

That led to a whole string of amusing “drugs in the schoolyard” jokes from the assembled cast and Sorkin’s co-creator Thomas Schlamme, but series regular Matthew Perry got the award for most original and self-deprecating line of the session.

Answering a question about why he had returned to TV, Perry said he signed on to the pilot because of “how good the script is, and how bad 'The Whole Ten Yards’ was.”



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