Multihyphenate Marshall Herskovitz has a thoughtful op-ed in today’s Los Angeles Times looking at — what else? — WGA strike issues and how so many of the issues on the table are intertwined with the death 11 years ago of the FCC’s financial interest and syndication rule. He also gets in a noticeable plug for his new online skein "quarterlife," which once tried to find life as an old-fashioned show on ABC.
(In the spirit of unabashed self-promotion, chapter one of a certain new book about the life of two now-defunct networks has a whole lotta info about fin-syn and its legacy, not that I’m plugging "Season Finale: The Unexpected Rise and Fall of the WB and UPN" or anything…)
As Herskovitz submits about the post-fin-syn world of network TV:
The most profound change resulting from that ruling is the way networks go about the business of creating programming. Networks today exert a level of creative control unprecedented in the history of the medium. The stories my friends tell me would make me laugh if the situation weren’t so self-defeating. Network executives routinely tell producers to change the color of the walls on sets; routinely decide on the proper wardrobe for actors; routinely have "tone" meetings with directors on upcoming pilots; routinely give notes on every page of a script. (When we did "thirtysomething" in the late ’80s, we never received network notes.) And by the way, they have every right to do these things. As owners, they have a responsibility to satisfy themselves that their product is competitive and successful.