‘Dollhouse’ Halts Production Amid Creative Concerns

Sep 10, 2008  •  Post A Comment

Production has halted on the Joss Whedon drama “Dollhouse” amid indications that some executives inside Fox are deeply concerned about the creative direction of the series.
The last day of filming on “Dollhouse” was last Thursday, a spokesman for the show’s studio, 20th Century Fox TV confirmed today. The show will resume production on Sept. 25, he said.
Officially, 20th executives said the shutdown is designed to give Mr. Whedon time to focus on getting the show’s scripts in better shape. According to Zap2It.com, which first reported the shutdown, Mr. Whedon’s decision to direct two of the first three episodes of the series distracted him from focusing on the scripts.
A 20th spokesman indicated that Mr. Whedon simply wanted to make the show better, and that because production on the series is ahead of schedule, there would be no problem with the show premiering as planned in January.
“We have tremendous confidence in Joss and his team, and we wholeheartedly supported his desire to take some time to focus on upcoming scripts before resuming filming,” the 20th spokesman said. “It’s not often in television production that you have the luxury of extra time, but in this instance we did. And this is a show we all believe in and we want to give it every opportunity to succeed.”
However, some executives at the Fox network are worried that Mr. Whedon may not have his “Dollhouse” in order.
A person familiar with the thinking of some Fox executives told TelevisionWeek that there have been concerns raised inside the network about the fundamental underpinnings of the show.
Specifically, because the heroine of the show, played by Eliza Dushku, has no free will or ability to do much beyond what she’s told to do, viewers might find it hard to root for her. In addition, some executives have expressed concerns that early episodes of the series have been confusing and hard to follow.
Mr. Whedon himself confessed to such worries over “clarity” in July, when he announced he was shooting a new pilot for the series and wouldn’t be screening the original pilot at Comic-Con.
But executives who’ve read future scripts said some of those issues remain.
A Fox network spokesman dismissed as “untrue” the notion that Fox Entertainment chiefs Peter Liguori and Kevin Reilly are concerned over the future of the show.
“We believe in Joss, and we support the show,” he said. “It will be on the air midseason.”
It’s worth noting that internal debates over shows are standard operating procedure inside networks, and that different factions within a network—such as marketing or development—might disagree about a show’s potential.
“Dollhouse” is the second Fox show to stop production in as many weeks: Last week the network’s “24” went on a two-week hiatus.

82 Comments

  1. As usual, Fox execs think their viewers are as stupid as they are.
    News for Fox execs – viewers can understand the show even if you don’t.
    More news for Fox execs – a series needs time to DEVELOP a following. And your mismanagement of dozens of series’ has taught your viewers not to follow a show until the second season.

  2. About the only thing Fox is good at is poor scheduling, poor promotion and early cancellation of good television shows in favor of crappy reality shows. After what they did to Wonderfalls and Firefly, it is surprising that they haven’t already canceled Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles for being too good. Looks like they’ve already started meddling with Dollhouse. How long before Joss Whedon takes his talent somewhere that it is appreciated and not second guessed?

  3. Here we go again…

  4. As a former employee of one of the Big 3 networks, I can assure you that what executives think of shows has little correlation to what viewers and critics think of shows.
    Virtually no one at NBC liked Seinfeld in the beginning, and Friends tested so badly it was embarrassing. Sometimes when reading the script for a new series, you wonder what sort of kickback the development exec was getting because there was NO WAY the show was going to work. 90% of the time, we were right, and the “experts” were wrong.

  5. I think that Dollhouse will be a great series in the spring. I am hoping that some of the Buffy series regulars will appear in the Dollhouse and that they too also have lost their memories. The same actors playing the same roles. It would be great seeing the characters try to find out about their past lives. Also, they could end up in the Dollhouse because Sunnydale no longer exists So Where We Will Go From Here?

  6. The business side of entertainment should stay out of the way of the creative side. You hire talented people and then you let them do the show they are inspired to do.
    Executives should only be concerned with how best to present the finished product, where to slot it and how to market it.
    What is it they say about too many cooks in the kitchen?
    B.J.

  7. Knowing Fox, they’ll probably run it against Heroes, which would be the absolute worst thing imaginable.

  8. I have the utmost confidence in Joss Whedon – he’ll try everything he knows to make it right regardless of where the problems lie.
    Maybe if it is only the Fox suits that are the problem he’ll take his show elsewhere where it can be appreciated.
    I love poster Diana’s story ideas. Very interesting and I would watch those episodes in a minute!

  9. Why do people bother watching anything on Fox when all the good stuff is cancelled? These studio idiots never understand what they throw money at. They keep getting cold feet on every show they agree to air. I bet these guys thought Fantastic Four was deep.

  10. Though my nickname indicates otherwise, I’m not slow and have no problems to understand “Buffy”, “Angel” and “Firefly”, which three shows I deem the finest in Television during the last decade. Dear Fox execs, support Joss Whedon, you can deem yourself lucky to have such an artist been working for you! And please stop underestimating the intelligence of your viewers! With deep concerns, slow

  11. yeah, fox execs dont know shit.
    number one network?
    sadly, the majority of the population are not gayers who like sci-fi, warcraft and posting on the internet.
    they like football, guns and krispy creams.
    PS i saw the presentation of dollhse and it was all over the shop.

  12. It’s bad.
    Joss is so beyond TV at this point anyway. Someone needs to give him a monster budget for an HBO series like Rome or something.

  13. FOX sucks!
    Eliza was tied to Fox but Joss was not.
    Surely the show would have worked with another leading leady on a propper network.
    Fox sucks!
    Joss is too smart for FOX and always has been. He won’t “dumb it down” for the average American.
    Fox ruined Firefly, the greatest tv show ever and now they’re meddling again.
    Fox have to cater for their audience which, again for the most, is pretty dumb. So I can’t blame FOX this time.
    FOX is consistent, and will not change.
    Joss, YOU need to wise up.
    Start your own network. Go to Canada, come to the UK and work for the Beeb.
    Do something different.
    Anything but FOX

  14. What King of Cretins said! I totally agree. Joss on HBO or Showtime would rock our world.

  15. I’ll 3rd the motion for hbo/showtime/bbc/whatever over fox. I was just saying to a friend the other day how great it would be if T:TSCC was on Showtime then Cameron could echo some of Arnolds other great lines (like she did with ‘come with me if you want to live.)
    How great would it be to hear Summer Glau tell someone ‘F*&k you, asshole.’ :)

  16. Once again it is seems, just like with presidents, that intelligence and competence are not in the job description of executives of a company.
    Instead of having a professional attitude, these guys are easy to be scared. “Maybe…maybe not” .
    Hey, let’s choose for mindless repeating episodes. That will be the future.
    In addition to the previous posting I want to take the opportunity to say I would like to see Summer Glau to play in “Battle angel Alita” (if such tv serie or movie will ever be produced).

  17. Some of you people are just plain sad.
    Can you seriously not even consider the idea that maybe — just maybe, mind you — the show IS having serious creative problems, and that the executives are right to be concerned? Seems unlikely, given Whedon’s track record for excellence, but “Dollhouse” is an unknown quantity for the time being, and it’s foolish to get too worked up about it until it’s started airing. Heck, it may not be worth saving. Then again, it might be the best thing in the history of history. But for the time being, it’s a bunch of nothing.
    You might also do well to remember that television IS a business, and that in order for the business to remain viable, it has to make money. Not a little bit of money, either, but a lot of money. They’d be idiots if they weren’t concerned over the ability to sell the show to the public. Irresponsible fools, even.
    Here’s a bit of a history lesson for you: NOBODY WATCHED “FIREFLY.” If people had watched it, Fox would have never cancelled it. Guess what? They made the right decision. Awesome show; nobody watched it until years after the fact. Don’t be mad at Fox. Be mad at the people who didn’t watch the show to begin with. Odds are, you’re one of them.
    And if “Dollhouse” gets poor ratings, it won’t be Fox’s fault when they cancel it. It’ll be the public’s. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen, but when it does, if it does, Fox probably won’t deserve the hatred you people toss their way.

  18. Well, to Bryant Burnette, I still feel like people WOULD have watched Firefly if FOX had aired the freaking Pilot. ._.

  19. Here’s a Brillant idea! Whatever happens with this show Dollhouse WATCH it every week no matter what’s on opposite it No heros ONLY Dollhouse!!!
    Keep GOOD shows on by WATCHINg them!!!!!

  20. Mainly in response to Bryant Burnette, but an overall concern.
    I don’t believe for a second that there are serious creative issues, because I don’t think they’ve paid attention to the concept. Their critique of Dushku’s character proves that in my opinion.
    Second, I haven’t forgotten that television is a business, but I often think that Fox has. You can’t take a new series, change it’s time slot every week for a month, show the episodes out of their intended order, then take a six week hiatus and expect to have viewers. It takes time to build an audience with almost any show, and they have a history of doing what I’ve just outlined with anything that is at all outside the box. If it’s not one of their proven moneymakers (mostly read: REALITY TV, but recently including House and Bones) then it just gets jerked around in the schedule, put on an early hiatus for the MLB postseason and scrapped a few weeks later.
    Anybody with an ounce of sense can see that is not a good way to gain an audience for a new program. And that doesn’t even begin to address the utterly abysmal promotion that they give their genre shows.

  21. Network broadcast TV is a dead medium. The sponsors and “owners” of broadcast networks have mediated and meddled their business into the mess it is in today, have no one but themselves to blame, and are too stupid to even know it.
    Besides, come February? It all dies anyway.
    Plus, ya’ know what? The smart people in America? We’re no longer watching TV. Haven’t for ages.
    We. Have. Lives. (long “I”)
    - RRG
    “Television is for children and n*ggers.” – William Faulkner

  22. ‘Network broadcast TV is a dead medium’
    ROFLMAO! Wassup? Couldn’t get the walk-on part you wanted then?

  23. Bryant Burnette, please explain to me exactly HOW I could have watched Firefly when it first aired? (I live in the UK) Should I have emigrated to the USA?
    Ratings for first time showings in one corner of the planet mean nothing.

  24. I’m really surprised about two things.
    1) No one seems to have questioned the validity of “A person familiar with the thinking of some Fox executives” as a source.
    and
    2) This story has been picked up all over the entertainment media and repeated as if it were the death knell for the series.
    In every business there are dissenting opinions in almost every decision. Even if this source is legit, they may well be repeating board room debates that have long been settled, or the opinion of a small minority or even a disgruntled individual.
    Joss has always maintained a very clear channel of communication with the fans. If there is any real trouble, I’m sure we’ll hear about it from him.

  25. I’m sorry I was mean to Diana in the fourth grade…

  26. Dollhouse was terrible. I wanted to turn it off in the first 15 minutes. I hope fox takes this horrible, worthless, pointless show soon.

  27. Can’t get enough of this series……

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  29. Superb that Lindsay Lohan gets absolutely serious with reference to herself, she does need treatment like Mel Gibson wants a mental health specialist, maybe lindsay may not get discharged from rehabilitation quick on this occasion as getting freed early from UCLA was doubtless the main grounds why this girl relapsed so promptly in the 1st place, i am only praying on your behalf entirely Lindsay, genuinely you can actually master your addiction.

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