Jack Myers' Think Tank: Save Intelligent TV, Say 'Studio 60' Fans

My commentary last week titled "Save Studio 60: Fans Need to Take Action," struck a responsive chord, generating more response than any previous Jack Myers Think Tanks and more than any previous MediaPost TV Board blog. More than 1,000 comments and votes have been registered at MediaPost and at MediaVillage.com. (Several of the comments are shared below. To read other comments click here.) While 1,000 fans will not convince NBC and Warner Brothers to renew a show that even the most ardent supporters acknowledge is highly unlikely to be resurrected, the bigger issue is the commentary on intelligent, quality television.

As much as I would like to see "Studio 60" renewed for another season, I'm more interested in sending a message to all the networks that there is an audience for intelligent drama that provides debate about the issues confronting the nation and the world. Intelligent dialogue that forces viewers to think, to hear opposing viewpoints, and to challenge their own perceptions has all but disappeared from the TV landscape. No other series on network television of the past several seasons has made as serious an effort to offer the public an honest and cogently written weekly commentary on the American political condition and none are on the TV horizon.

Whether you're a dedicated fan of "Studio 60" or not, if you're a fan of intellectually and emotionally charged TV drama and politically relevant narrative story telling, you need to let network programmers know they should not ignore the genre. The failure of Studio 60 should not freeze out future programming that demands intelligent participation. Your voice should be heard. Add your message. Cast your vote.

Fans of "Studio" 60 Sound Off:

I was one of the many involved in the campaign to save "Jericho," and I am so thrilled that CBS listened, for whatever reasons they may have had. I am also a fan of the "West Wing" (best show ever IMO) and "Studio 60" and was upset when they pulled it mid-season and then announced its cancellation after these final airings. But I do not think a grass-roots, send stuff to NBC move will save it. As you touched on in your post, there is not enough people interested in "intelligentia" programming, especially when it is so obviously tilted to one side of the political spectrum. By making it obvious it is written from the leftist point of view, the right will not even tune in to see how it is. It's unfortunate because even though there were issues with the show, it was well-written and I enjoyed Sorkin's style of "snappy patter" and the walk and talks he used both in the "WW" and "Studio 60." You mentioned that the script could tone down its preachiness, but I think that would remove what makes Sorkin's work so fascinating. As much as I hate to say it, "Studio 60" is done, and the television line-ups are less exciting and less intelligent as a result.
Posted by: Dennis at June 15, 2007 10:30 AM

It would be bad business to cancel this show. It is one of the most well written and acted shows I've seen. My husband and I use TIVO and this is one of the only shows we watch live. You really don't want to lose us because it is one of the few shows we watch on NBC and we'd watch NBC more if you had more shows like "Studio 60."
We are also a terrific demographic (married couple, high income, 40-45) and the ones who buy all the new gadgets, upgrade regularly, spend lots of money, & tell all our friends about cool shows & gadgets. Trust me, you will be losing a fine demographic given the intelligentia offerings of this show and the audience that can appreciate it. If you really need to make more money to keep the show profitable, then follow your own story line and do more product placement. I don't usually like blatant advertising, but if it will keep this show then do it.

Posted by: Dawn at June 15, 2007 01:07 PM

Jack, you are absolutely right about both what is/was right and wrong with "Studio 60." I've already sent your column on to others I know want to see the show succeed. But here's my concern. After creating multiple riveting and realistic relationships on "Sports Night," has Sorkin become totally tone-deaf to how two people speak to one another? While watching "S60" this year, I often felt that Matthew Perry and Sarah Paulson were given scripts to different shows, taped separately and digitally composited together on the screen. Their chemistry was that bad. Yes, as you point out, characters and actors can be shuffled. But I'm concerned that if Sorkin can't get this basic element correct, then all the rest, the razor-sharp cultural and political commentary, is lost.
Posted by: Scott Woelfel at June 15, 2007 01:11 PM

I found this entry via the Google alerts. Many fans are resigned to the fact that for whatever reasons (too numerous to mention here without going into a major rant), the network *isn't* renewing one of the more intelligent programmes next season. We signed the petitions, we voted in the E!Online poll, but despite "S60" having better overall ratings than several other shows that have been granted a second season, it's not coming back. It's a damn shame, but we have to realise that illiterate programming is the future and if that's what the networks think they need to bring in the ad revenues, we're just going to have to turn off our TVs and console ourselves with "West Wing" and "Studio 60" DVDs. Yes, we could send nuts, or Mars Bars, or whatever, but that's been done. Instead, a group of us have decided that the answer is not to fight the cancellation, but to celebrate the show and thank the cast and crew. While we're doing it, we want a positive outcome. See http://community.livejournal.com/thanks2studio60/873.html for details of how we are doing this.
Posted by: Hooloovoo_42 at June 15, 2007 01:38 PM

I agree completely! For weeks I've been wondering why there hasn't been any fan furor over such a smart show. This is one of the few television programs to deal honestly with the issues that all of us face in this country. I would love to save this show!
Posted by: Carol at June 15, 2007 03:08 PM

Dude...reach into your savings account and buy a clue...the show is dead and never coming back
Posted by: Carl LaFong at June 15, 2007 02:40 PM

It is too late to save the show, but there is a community working on a project thanking WB, cast and crew and showing support of Tipitina's Foundation in "Studio 60"'s honor. It's a shame the show is gone, it was amazing. The facts NBC (nothing but crap) try to hide, because they should be ashamed.
Studio 60 - When it got labeled "poor ratings" you didn't know:
a. It would be in the top 30% for the season
b. The 2nd most dvr'd show of the season
c. Outnumber many of the shows being renewed
d. Blow AWAY the numbers of anything else tried in its time slot
e. They would let Roger Friedman dictate programming.

Posted by: Segsig at June 15, 2007 05:13 PM

There is a group at Livejournal that is raising money for a "Thank You" ad for "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip." The ad will feature a thank you to the cast and crew, as well as encourage fans to donate to Tipitina's Foundation (the charity featured in The Christmas Show, which is rebuilding the cultural traditions of New Orleans and also aiding musicians displaced by Hurricane Katrina). They are working with Tipitina's to develop a special "Studio 60 Donations" site. Please encourage fans to check out http://community.livejournal.com/thanks2studio60/ for more information on this campaign. Thank you for your time.
Posted by: Kayla at June 15, 2007 05:19 PM

I agree with Jack in his appreciation of "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip." It seems that broadcasters are so hungry for a show that targets the entire population that it overlooks shows that can attract a smaller, intelligent viewership. With that ideal it's no wonder that almost every show on is so watered down, politically correct and intent on being unoffending that they don't strongly appeal to anyone. I remember heated debates about Martin Sheen's Presidential decisions on "West Wing" as if he was really the President (I wish). I highly doubt that "Deal or No Deal," "America's Got Talent" or "30 Rock" inspire such thought. The fact that a show can attract an audience that rarely watches
TV is amazing. Has NBC considered that they just tapped into a new revenue stream? Maybe they should take a lesson from their own show and load up on a few reality shows aimed at the masses to counter a couple of smart, contemporary dramas. I guess they could even play it safe and broadcast "Law and Order: The TV Studio."

Posted by: Michael Durwin from FUSE/ideas at June 15, 2007 05:34 PM

We must save "Studio 60"! Nothing is like it out there, it would be horrible to let it die! It even had consistent DVR playback ratings too!
Come on NBC, bring it back!

Posted by: Amanda Dornish at June 15, 2007 05:21 PM

SAVE "STUDIO 60" !! Let's do whatever it takes to retain "SMART TV" wherever we can !!
Posted by: Randall McGuire from Advantage Media Services, Inc. at June 15, 2007 05:42 PM

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