There must be at least one actor who was hired, fired, hired on another show, and fired again all within the last two months. And actors from failed pilots are replacing actors on sold pilots. At some point it’s going to be like THAT OBSCURE OBJECT OF DESIRE, the Luis Bunuel movie where two actresses played the same role in the same film. You’ll be watching a show. There’s Kim Raver. Now there’s Gina Gershon. Now there’s Kim Raver again. One tests better in outdoor scenes. The other tests better in indoor scenes. WTF??!
Actors are also bailing from hits. Mandy Patinkin quit his fourth or fifth show. Why networks keep giving this maniac more series is beyond me. It reminds me of a few years ago when Savario Guerra quit BECKER because he felt hemmed in in a series. Great career move. He hasn’t been seen since.
LIPSTICK JUNGLE (pictured above) fired its show runners. This coming after one completed script. Of course that show had also fired three previous writers along the way and completely re-cast the show. There may be more LIPSTICK JUNGLE former employees than viewers.
And even if your series is running smoothly with no turnover there’s still a huge uncertainty. Networks are revamping their fall schedules. You could be off the air before you even get on the air. The network executive who championed your show could be fired. Or you took your pilot to Network “A”. They passed. Network “B” picked it up and you got on the schedule. You publicly ripped the executive at Network “A” for his short sightedness, saying “he couldn’t find water in a leaky boat with a paddle in the middle of the ocean”, and he’s now the head of Network “B”. Don't look now but a Bob Saget game show has your time slot.
What all this says is that there is a level of fear and anxiety at the network television level that is palpable. Yes, shows can be improved, and certain actors and writers don’t work out. But such widespread upheaval signals a clear lack of faith in the product, which sets off a vicious circle. It’s hard to create in that atmosphere. The writers are forever second-guessed. The actors are always looking over their shoulders. As a result the shows don’t turn out as well. Networks get more scared, and on and on and on…
It all comes back to this: hire the best people, let them do their best work, and take a chance. 90% of shows are going to fail anyway. But the ones that succeed might be the next SOPRANOS or SEINFELD and you won’t have to bring back THE APPRENTICE and ACCORDING TO JIM.
It all starts with believing…and if you have to fire someone, let it be Mandy Patinkin.