Wise Up

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This is Rob Long with Martini Shot on KCRW.

A friend of mine was working on a pilot last year for a big star who had a big deal at one of the big TV networks. It was a great idea for a show, and he's a great writer, and the actor liked him, so on the face of it, it seemed like a sure thing.

We had lunch right after the deal was set.

"What do you think?" he asked me, excitedly.

"I think it's going to be great," I said, without adding, "but it's probably not going to go because I think the network is going to have fewer timeslots available next spring, and they're probably double or triple developing for the actor without telling you, and even if they do want to make a pilot with the actor, it'll probably be a multiple camera show which fits their schedule better, and not the single camera script you're working on."

I didn't add that last part because, you know, why? And also because I wasn't really sure that it was all going to play out exactly that way. I mean, what do I know? That's just one possible way it could all unfold.

Which, it turns out, is exactly the way it unfolded. Right down to the minor betrayal of discovering that another client at the agency that represents him wrote the chosen, multiple-camera script.

There's a point in your life -- for me, unfortunately, it's come rather late, maybe too late -- when something happens -- not necessarily in your life, but in someone's life who you know -- when events take place exactly the way you thought they would. And you think, "Wow, that's exactly what I thought would happen. I must... know stuff."

Suddenly, you know stuff. Stuff happens and you're not surprised. It isn't cynical pessimism --- well, it is, but it's also something more -- it's wisdom. And if you're smart, you keep it to yourself. My friend didn't want to hear how this was all going to turn out. What he wanted to hear was, "Fantastic! This is great!" Because, deep down, that's all anybody wants to hear. "Fantastic! This is great!" See, part of knowing stuff is knowing that the stuff you know isn't really stuff you can change, it's stuff you just have to do. And if there's any wisdom there that can be applied to the entertainment industry in particular, it's that you may know how something is going to unfold, but you have no idea what's going to unfold after that unfolding. Know what I mean? You may know, for instance, that the pilot you're working on is going to wither and die, but you don't know if someone will read the script and think, hey, give that guy a script deal, or hey, that should be a feature film, or hey, something else unpredictably interesting and financially beneficial. So it's wise to keep saying "Fantastic! This is great!" even though you know stuff -- stuff like, the thing you're writing is probably not going to go -- because a good piece of material out there, with your name on it, brings back a lot of opportunities.

I explained this to my friend. He agreed.

"You know what?" he said. "You're right. The week after they passed on our pilot, another network offered us a script deal to re-develop a single-camera comedy they've been working on -- it's already got a star attached, and the network is really committed to putting it on in the fall!"

"Fantastic!" I said. "This is great."

That's it for this week. Next week, we'll kill the mouse. For KCRW, this is Rob Long with Martini Shot.



Rob Long