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Instant Message

This is Rob Long with Martini Shot on KCRW.

I went to a party the other day, for a show that had been abruptly cancelled. Well, it seemed abrupt to some people. Like, say, the people working on the show. But for the people at the network that cancelled the show, it was the final and obvious destination of the stately, dignified procession of meetings, ratings, focus groups, and management changes.

And, of course, they'll never tell you that you're going to be cancelled, or even that they're considering it.

Once, when I had a show on the air that was teetering on the brink of being yanked, I was on the phone with a network executive. He was trying to make me feel better about our lackluster ratings, which I was blaming on our lead-in, our lack of promotion, on-well, you get the picture: on something or someone else.

&quotWe; love the show over here," he kept saying. &quotWe; know it isn't in the right spot right now, and we're all working to change that, okay? Stop being worried. The show has a lot of fans at the network. The president of the network loves the show."

Just then, over the phone, I heard his computer make a &quotding;!" sound. [make sound] Like that?

&quotWhat;'s that?" I asked.

&quotUm...I; just got an instant message. It's nothing."

&quotDid; you just get an Instant Message from the president of the network telling you that he's decided to cancel our show?"

&quotNo.; No. No. No. No. No I did not. No. No. No I didn't. Okay, I did."

Then I heard this. [makes typing sound] &quotWhat; are you doing?"

&quotI;'m sending him one back telling him that I just told you."

&quotGreat.;" [pinging sound] &quotAnd; now he's just sent me one back asking me to tell you that he's sorry and that he liked the show but that he's getting a lot of pressure from the ad sellers, and that he hopes to get your next show." [pinging sound] &quotWhich; he hopes will be a male-driven comedy with strong youth appeal. If that's your creative vision, that is."

&quotDid; he say that last part?"

&;, I added that. He probably doesn't care what your creative vision is." [pinging sound] &quotNow; what?"

&quotWow.; He's telling me that he likes the way I handled this, and that he wants to talk to me later this week about some kind of promotion. Wow. Great! Cool!" [typing sound] &quotVery; glad you lots of ideas re development-."

&quotCan; I hang up now?"

&quotThis; is turning out to be a fantastic day!"

&quotCan; I hang up now?"

&quotHmmmm;? Oh, yeah, sure. Sure. Um-and sorry about the show. Really. We all loved it over here. Just loved it. And were totally behind it, one hundred percent. Until, you know, we cancelled it." [pinging sound] &quotGotta; go!"

It's the old saying, God doesn't shut one door without opening another. Only sometimes, He opens the other door for someone else. And the first door just stays closed. Until you come up with a male driven comedy with strong youth appeal, I guess.

Well, that's it for this week. Next week, we'll destroy show business. For KCRW, this is Rob Long with Martini Shot.



Rob Long