An interesting moment for Sarah Silverman this year was the release of the 2012 pilot she co-wrote and starred in for NBC, “Susan 313.” More than a year after the Peacock passed on the 20th Century Fox TV production, Silverman received permission to post it online, revealing a show with great idiosyncratic promise … that seemingly had no business being on a broadcaster trying to grow its audience like NBC.
“I don’t feel like any frustration about it,” Silverman says. “I don’t think I want to do 22 of anything a year. Network TV is just not the place for me. But it was good. I worked with all my friends, and it was neat to do something different.”
Without hesitation, however, Silverman acknowledges the pilot was problematic for NBC, from her perspective as well as theirs.
“There were cringy places for me,” she says. “I know, with some perspective of time, exactly what I would change. … But the truth is, the cut I liked the most was a 29-minute cut. You have to cut eight minutes out and maintain the storyline. It’s frustrating, but it’s no one’s fault. We should have written a tighter script.”
So why did the show end up at NBC, rather than cable, the place where such unique shows as “Louie” and “Maron” have been nurtured?
“The networks want you,” Silverman says, “and you forget about ‘I want to take this to cable.’ You’re just so excited by love and acceptance.
“Bob Greenblatt had just gotten to NBC, and everything he said was what I wanted to hear — and he meant it. … ‘I come from Showtime. I did “Nurse Jackie!” All these cool shows – I want to do that at NBC.’ That excited me. Here was this fresh guy there. I remember saying to him, ‘I’m not trepidatious because I want to say “pussy” on NBC, I just want to be able to be far out and not worry that people won’t like it in Poughkeepsie.’ People like far-out things in Poughkeepsie.
“But from that point to the point we had shot and were editing, he had gotten such a severe pounding, and there was just no way.”