‘A Dirty Five-letter Word’
November 20, 2006 2:02 PM
There's five letter word that I hate more than anything.
Well, not more than acts of violence, or bigotry, or ignorance.
But it's definitely a five letter word that I hate more than other five letter words. I like "trees", "lunch", and "taste". But I hate "notes".
You'd think that after 25 years as a creator of TV shows, I'd be used to notes by now. It's part of the process: I write scripts, networks give notes. But somehow, I'm always surprised to get them. And no matter what they say, I immediately hate them. Then I hate the network.
(It's not until much later that I hate myself.)
I just received notes on my new pilot on Friday. Four pages. That didn't even begin with a "you're brilliant, but..."
Not that it would matter if they said I was brilliant. Four pages of notes are three and a quarter pages too many, no matter what.
You know how sometimes you get pages of notes, and half of them are on grammatical errors, and you think: "syntax doesn't hit the damn screen anyway, so lay off? Let's just say, in this case, I WISHED half the notes were on typos, wrong contractions, and dangling participles.
Instead, I got notes on character. On plausibility. On tone. And of course, all the notes were wrong, because my script was perfect.
To hell with the network, I thought, why even give them a show of mine anyway?
My megalomania and pithy condescension dropped a little bit, however, when I took a walk around the block.
The point of the walk: to convince myself that I was right, they were wrong, and that I'd just have to call them up and tell them that. Instead, I started to realize...I didn't exactly develop the script with the network.
They signed off on an idea and I said: here's the script (I don't like to waste any time).
So, okay, maybe I could make it better...for their network. Their brand. My script wasn't wrong, they just needed me to do something different. For their shareholders.
Okay, fine, for their audience.
Okay, so their notes weren't ALL horrible. Maybe only half of them. So that's what I'd tell them, that half their notes were spot on, and the other half sucked.
Of course, when we all got on the phone, and they told me how brilliant the dialogue was, and how commendable it was that I went straight to script, but the path just didn't happen to coincide with their programming strategy, I figured there was no point in giving them my notes on their notes.
After all, show business is, in itself, a banal platitude: entertain while making money. It's in the word, right there. SHOW and BUSINESS.
Point being: while some things are objective in this industry, many things aren't.
Thus the saying: "there's no accounting for taste".
Which makes me realize, I HATE the word "taste". Even more than notes. Because notes depend on taste. Taste of the buyer, the audience, the programming plan for the future, and whatever movie just happened to have grossed the most millions the past weekend.
So...it's back to the script. I'm calm now. Well, I'm calmer. And that's close to being calm...
Until next rant,