Anyone who’s interested in the TV development process should do themselves a favor and rent “The TV Set.”
This often hilarious 2006 pic, from ThinkFilm, stars David Duchovny as a TV comedy writer. Directed and written by Jake Kasdan, the film is a dead-on portrayal of the meandering and often painful process a pilot goes through on its journey from script to small screen.
I watched it last week with three friends who all had some familiarity with the subject: a writer who’s had two pilots make it to series; an actor who’s auditioned for several pilots; and a TV/film producer.
Many folks who haven’t been through the process, or aren’t close to someone who has, might think the film is over-the-top, but I’m here to tell you it’s not. The film is so realistic that at some points my writer friend would say things like “They said that to me word-for-word.” And he was often able to predict the next line from the hapless director character (played by Willie Garson) or the Machiavellian network honcho (a brilliant spot-on performance from Sigourney Weaver, pictured above).
Duchovny is well-cast — and appropriately schlubby with a full beard — as Mike Klein, the scribe who grows increasingly agitated by the escalating ridiculous demands placed on him by the network. Brit thesp Ioan Gruffudd finds a nice balance with his role as the mid-level exec who’s well-intentioned but ultimately powerless against the network machine. Every character adds to the realism: the spineless manager (Judy Greer), the world-weary gaffer, the efficient assistant director that nobody listens to and the wet-behind-the-ears actors. (Pictured below: Greer, Duchovny, Garson)
You should have plenty of time to carve out an evening for this enjoyable pic — God knows the strike is quickly doing away with original scripted fare.
Kasdan’s John C. Reilly starrer “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story,” from Columbia Pictures, opens Dec. 21.
— Kathy Lyford