I have to get on a plane tomorrow. Can you believe it? This is show business, my friends. One day I fly back from Seattle to L.A. The next day it’s off to Boston. For the next several months nothing happens. Then, after a full year of inactivity, I’m out of the business and involved in multilevel marketing. But right now it’s all happening. I’ve got a lot on my plate, and what’s not on my plate is in the can. I’m generating heat, a buzz, and also a high-pitched whine.
I just found out that I have to be in Boston immediately to work on a new TV show for the FX channel called The Dick and Paula Celebrity Special. It’s an animated talk show parody created by the same people who produce Dr. Katz. Dr. Katz is an animated series featuring Jonathan Katz, who, unlike most comedians, is very funny. I get to play myself, which is easier than when I’ve had to act like an ancient Egyptian, or a guy from England.
The producers of the Dick and Paula show are creative people. This is rare. Normally, the goal of any TV project is to destroy all the creativity of the participants. The reason for this is fear. Television is run by executives. That’s where the trouble begins. For the most part these executives are not interested in doing good work. They are only interested in not losing their high paying jobs. They’re scared and ready to panic and, when they do, they plan to take everyone down with them.
Let’s illustrate with an example: I think I still have a show running on the Animal Planet network. I say “I think” because I’m really not sure. Go to the its Web site and click on the icon of a small man shrugging his shoulders and shaking his head. See what happens. If the show is still on at all, it’s on late Saturday night–and only repeats. Soon the network executives will even stop showing these repeats because, if they don’t, they are going to have to pay me more money. They would hate to do that, because why should I be happy?
The Animal Planet show is or was called The Pet Shop. The concept of the show was simple. A talk show featuring celebrities and their pets. I wanted it to be entertaining. The Animal Planet executives had other ideas. They gave me notes saying things like “Why are you talking to the band leader?” They were convinced that everybody has a compelling story about their pet that America is dying to hear. “Tell me the story about how your cat wouldn’t eat his wet food until you added a little paprika.” I should have been suspicious when during one of our strategy sessions, I was told to remember that the pets are guests too. Maybe I should have asked the pets about their upcoming projects.