Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The 1 Thing

There's that one thing. You know the one; that thing that triggers a change. The wafer-thin-mint-moment in Monty Python's "The Meaning of Life" that detonates Mr. Creosote

Mine occurred this last pitch-season.

I've been working on this series-project, 1, for the last four years or so.  That's right.  1.  As in the numeral "1."  It's the story of Stella Carter, a very smart, resourceful, imaginative 17 year-old girl who has survived a pandemic that has wiped out 99.9999999999% of everybody. 

As far as Stella knows, she is the only person left on earth.  She survives the crushing loneliness by creating a complex community of imaginary friends. In the pilot, however, she realizes she's playing with fire, that this psychological life-preserver is a potential mill-stone that could very well plunge her into a state of utter delusion and, inevitably, death. 

You see, in Stella's world, where the difference between life and death can be as small as an infected toenail, the delusional don't do terribly well.

In "1," I put it all out there. It was my answer to all the grim, unimaginative crap on that passes for series television these days--the soulless CSIs, the everything-but-scary vampire/zombie/ghost shows, the instantly forgettable pablum designed not to succeed, but merely not to fail. 

1 was my love-note to anyone who has driven down a dark, dark tunnel and emerged on the other end; sometimes bloodied, sometimes beaten to a pulp, but alive.

In other words, 1 was my love-note to everyone.

I brought Scott Winant, a brilliant director/showrunner, onto the team. Scott Winant, the guy who discovered Claire Danes and ran MY SO-CALLED LIFE. Then we roped in Wyck Godfrey, the brilliant producer of the TWILIGHT movies. 

Sounds like a fairly attractive package, no? Let's check with the marketing department...

From the creative minds behind CARNIVÁLE, MY SO-CALLED LIFE and TWILIGHT:

And even better, heavy-hitters like Wyck and Scott would have the juice to watch my back and defend me when the notes came in.

Going out with 1 was scary. The material was fragile. It walked a very thin highwire between working and not working. One mistep in its execution would tip it into serious shit. If it was going to survive development, I would have to fight like a bastard.

And I even knew what the fights would be over. Does she have to be a 17 year-old girl? Does she have to be by herself? Wouldn't it be cooler with zombies? Blah blah blah.

So I girded for battle and Scott, Wyck and I went out and pitched.

And guess what?

1 was a non-starter.

Not one market we approached was willing to even go so far as set up a development deal, much less commission a story...

Or a script...

Or the production of a pilot. 

So my fears were unfounded: Not only wouldn't there be a baby for the useless fuckers to strangle in its crib, but the useless fuckers didn't even want to fuck

In other words, my little show had not only failed, but failed beyond my wildest dreams.

Too dark, they said. We don't get it, they said. Not right for our network, they said. Too much other stuff in the development pipe, they said.

So here it is, folks. Next time you waste an hour watching a piece of unengaging eyeball-wash on the tube and think, "Wow. That was shitty. I can't even imagine how shitty the stuff must be that doesn't make air."

This is what isn't on T.V.

It will never be on T.V.

And even if it somehow made it on T.V., you wouldn't recognize it by the time the fuckers got finished with it. That is, unless there's someone out there with 20 to 30 million burning a hole in his/her pocket/pocketbook who, just for giggles, wants to deficit-finance the first season. 

If so, feel free to write me.

And that, boys and girls, was the wafer-thin mint that made this Mr. Creosote explode. I just can't do this anymore. Not this way. These children do not play well with others, and they're playing a game I cannot win.

And so I will make my own game. 

It's called Bxx