TCA: “Coupling” creator has tongue-lashing for NBC, Zucker


(Updated Friday morning with fresh comment from Steven Moffat, see below)

MoffatNever mind the bollocks, “Coupling” creator Steven Moffat (left) may have to explain a few things the next time he rings Ben Silverman.

Back in his pre-NBC days, Silverman helped Moffat bring the hit BBC comedy over to the States — where the U.S. “Coupling” promptly fizzled.

CouplingWhy did the Yankee “Coupling” fail? (For one thing, see the image to the right: It was promoted as a sex-drenched romp, rather than a plain ol’ funny show, as the BBC version was.) Moffat offered up his own hypothesis last week during BBC America’s TCA session (where he was promoting his new BBC series “Jekyll”):

“I can answer it with three letters: N-B-C. Very, very good writing team. Very, very good cast. The network fucked it up because they intervened endlessly. If you really want a job to work, don’t get Jeff Zucker’s team to come help you because they’re not funny …I can say that because I don’t care about working for NBC. The way in which NBC slagged off the creative team on American “Coupling” after its failure was disgraceful and traitorous. So I enjoy slagging them off. That’s the end of my career in L.A.”

Hmm… that’s what makes this part awkward: According to Silverman — now co-chairman of NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios — Moffat has been in contact about, yes, doing something for him at the Peacock!

“I find that a little hypocritical,” Silverman said. “(Moffat and “Coupling” exec producer Beryl Vertue) have called me a number of times about doing a show.”

The lesson?

“Never say never,” Silverman added.

— Michael Schneider

Friday morning update:

Just a few comments, if I may (and I’m assuming Ben’s been quoted correctly.)

1.  I have NEVER been contact with NBC about making a show.  Not once.

2.  I have NEVER said I won’t work for NBC, I just assumed they wouldn’t want me (and I wouldn’t blame them, really!)

3.  At the time of American Coupling, Ben Silverman was the producer of the show, not chairman of NBC – it was HIS work, and his team’s work that suffered so badly from network interference.  It was, in effect, Ben I was defending.  Oh, the irony!

4.  I know and like Ben, but I’ve seen him type on his Blackberry, and realise he might have been trying to say something else entirely.

Steven Moffat