Pilot season casting: All or nothing?

Chenoweth.kristen2.081508 It’s probably been a while since you thought of “Kristin” — the halfhour comedy starring Kristin Chenoweth that aired briefly on NBC in 2001. That’s assuming you even remember it.

But if you’re wondering why I’m bringing it up today, it’s because of Earl Pomerantz’s sharp blog post this morning about trying to find the right male lead to work opposite Chenoweth. He uses the series to make a larger point about the lack of logic you can find during pilot season.

… “Pilot Season” casting’s biggest problem involves too many jobs chasing too little top-line talent. Which brings me to the major “I don’t get it” of the entire process.

First, the standard disclaimer: I’m not in it anymore, so I don’t know if they still do this. But when I was working…

You see all the actors the casting director determines are suitable for the role. There is no one left to bring in. The best people available have already come through, and none of them has precisely fit the bill.

What’s the natural thing to do?

If you really like the show – it demonstrates real promise in every regard – and the only thing that’s keeping it out of production is that you’re unable to cast one of the roles, it seems to me the smart, albeit disappointing, thing to do would be to delay production until that right actor comes along. What do, or at least did, the networks do?

They abandon the show entirely.

They threw it away. They loved the idea, but they couldn’t cast one of the roles? “See you later.” No, not “See you later.” “See you. Never!” …

You do wonder how many times a good show has gone south simply because of bad timing. In any case, Variety’s Michael Speier trashed “Kristin” in his June 2001 review, saying that it was “way over the top and exists amid incredibly stale one-liners, on-the-cheap production values and boring supporting players.”

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