This is Rob Long with Martini Shot on KCRW.
A few years ago, a friend of mine had his show cancelled. As always happens, when the formal call comes from the head of the network, the news had been out for hours.
"I'm just really sorry," said the network guy when he called. "And I want you to know that I really want to be in business together."
"We are in business together," my friend said.
"I mean not on this," said the network president, which pretty much sums up my experience in the entertainment industry. Love working with you. Want to be in business with you. Really want you to do a show for us.
But not this one.
Still, it's nice to be wanted, even in the abstract. Although, honestly, I'd feel a lot better if what I heard was: Hate You. Hate your work. Hate working with you. But I'm putting your show on. Because you can't go to Whole Foods and buy organic chicken with pieces of paper that say I-Want-to-Be-in-Business-With-You.
Last month, for some reason, a website had my partner and me listed as two guys with a pilot in production. What that meant was, a huge number of people called, emailed, and faxed to remind us that we had worked together before, had enjoyed working together, and that he or she was available to work together again.
The trouble was, we don't have a pilot in production. Which was a disappointing and vexing turn of events, and one that I then had to explain, in detail, to the dozens of people who called and faxed and emailed and called and faxed and emailed again and called and faxed and emailed again until we somehow managed to connect and I could tell them that the website was wrong and as much as we'd all like to work together again, it wasn't going to happen, at least this go 'round.
Some of those people had a hard time accepting that a website could be wrong.
"But it was on the web."
Yes, I would say. But the web had it wrong.
"Uh huh," they would say, indicating a total lack of faith in my answer, and the certainty that I has simply hired someone else and was too cowardly to admit it. Of course, that's how I would have handled it, but in this case, it wasn't necessary to lie.
Some people took it hard. Which entailed a certain amount of counseling on my part.
"What happened?" one of these people asked me when, for the tenth time that day, I had told the story.
"They didn't buy the script," I said.
"Um, I don't know. I guess they just had a few others they felt stronger about. I don't know."
"Is that what they said to you?"
"They didn't really say anything. I think they liked the script about the people in their 30's or something slightly more."
"But that's a terrible script."
"Well, whatever. The point is, we're not in production."
"Unclear. Look, I've got a call on the other line..."
"So are you guys working on something else?"
"Well, yeah, we've got a couple of scripts we're thinking about, but..."
"When will those be done?"
"You know, I have a call..."
"I just want to work with you guys again."
"You guys are the greatest."
"I just really want to work together again on something."
"Understood. We feel the same way. But obviously, it's not happening this spring."
"Yeah. So. Do you guys know the guy who's doing the one about the people in their 30's?"
"Um, not really."
"Well could you call him and mention my name?"
See, people say they want to work together again, but what they really mean is, they want to work. Period.
That's it for this week. Next week, we'll move. For KCRW, this is Rob Long with Martini Shot.