LONGMIRE Showrunner Dishes Steps Up to the Plate on Why the Series was Cancelled

As you may or may not know, LONGMIRE, the most-watched scripted drama in the history of A&E, has been cancelled. We here at TVWriter™ were divided about the show. Some of the minions loved it. Others wouldn’t even try the show out cuz “old people, you know?”

In view of its ratings success, both camps wondered why the series was dropped – and now we have the answer, straight from the horse’s mouth. Proving that Facebook is good for something after all, LONGMIRE showrunner Craig Johnson has posted his take, and it gives us a wonderful – or maybe horrifying – insight into the television executive mind.

Here’s what Craig had to say just yesterday:

There’s an old saying among cowboys—you ride for the brand. If you’re hired on, you do your job the best you can and you don’t whine or complain about the outfit—but there does come a time, if you are mistreated with intent, when you leave that employ and need to clear the air.

If you’ve been stapling barbed wire up in a lineman’s shack for the last couple of weeks, you might not be aware that the A&E network cancelled Longmire. We’re all still kind of reeling from the news that a network would cancel the highest-rated, scripted drama it’s ever had, a show that was consistently one of the top ten cable shows of any given week—one of the top 25 of the summer including the networks.

A lot of people have been asking me why?

The excuse that the network used was that ratings were down from the previous season from 4.2 to 3.9 million, but with adjusted DVR recordings, Longmire was still holding steady at close to 6 million… And that’s with A&E cutting us down to ten episodes and giving us a less than enviable lead-in–four-year-old reruns of Criminal Minds that were pulling -72%, no promotion or advertising, and a general ambivalence to the show as a whole.

The other excuse was that the show wasn’t pulling as much as they wanted in the 18-49 demographic. We more than hold our own in the 25-50 demographic—now, I’m no television executive (thank goodness), but I don’t know of any 18 year-olds out there who are buying Dodge trucks. I still remember being told that Longmire pretty much sold itself, “Oh, we’ve got advertisers lined up to such an extent that we’re turning people away.”

So what gives?

A&E has made it clear that it wants to own and produce the shows it airs, and the one it doesn’t own, the highest-rated scripted drama they’ve ever had– Longmire—is not theirs. They’ve had success with Bates Motel (which, even with A&E’s blessings and full support, has yet to achieve the ratings Longmire has) and have had disasters like Those Who Kill (which was cancelled after only two weeks), but then they were trying to strong-arm Warner into selling them Longmire. Now, if I remember correctly, Warner Brothers were the ones who taught Humphrey Bogart and James Cagney how to be tough guys back in the thirties… Good luck with that, A&E. Maybe that next reality show, Tattooed Eskimo Swamp Hunters will turn out to be a winner.

At this point in time, the producers and Warner Horizon are pitching to other networks in hopes that one of them is smart enough to take on a proven winner like Longmire, and we’ll hopefully land in an environment that appreciates and supports the show.

People have been asking what they can do to help in finding Longmire a new home, and the best thing you can do is continue talking up the show in all the social media, whether it be Facebook, Twitter, blogs or the net-sphere. If you’re looking for a place to register your support, sign up for Twitter (it’s easy, even Walt could do it) if you aren’t already on there and join the blitz tonight (Monday) at 10 PM ET/9 C/8 MT/7 PT—the Longmire time slot—and keep tweeting and retweeting #longlivelongmire.

From the response that A&E’s garnered from dropping Longmire, it looks as if it may be the biggest PR disaster for the network. People are actually contacting their cable and satellite providers and requesting that A&E be removed from their subscription packages.—they have had to hire on extra operators for the amount of complaints that have been registered.

Wow.

In closing, I think those executives at A&E forgot to take one thing into consideration—we’re cowboys, we ride for the brand and we don’t walk away.

See you on the trail,

-Craig

In the words of our Beloved Leader, Larry Brody, “The best kept secret in show business is that it’s a business.” Looks like the secret’s starting to get out.


from LONGMIRE Showrunner Dishes Steps Up to the Plate on Why the Series was Cancelled
TV Showrunners Share Their Writing Secrets!

A wise and helpful review from one of TVWriter™’s favorite writers who no one over here knows. (Cuz if we did, we’d be recruiting her to work for us.)

So You Want To Be A TV Writer
by Charlie Jane Anders

The “writers’ room” of a television show is a magical place, where creativity flows and awesome ideas are generated. But how do you keep “the room” happy and focused? Some of the top showrunners, including Joss Whedon, share their secrets in this exclusive excerpt from the book Showrunners.

The book Showrunners: The Art of Running a TV Show by Tara Bennett is out now, and it includes interviews with Joss Whedon, Damon Lindelof, Ronald D.Moore, Terence Winter, Bill Prady, Shawn Ryan, David Shore, and Jane Espenson, among others. It’s based on the documentary of the same name. Below is an excerpt from the section on writers’ rooms…

Lessons in Practice

At the exit of every writers’ room there is accumulated wisdom for every writer to put into action at the next job. If those writers eventually become showrunners themselves, there are myriad techniques that can be employed to get the best creative results from their staffs.

J.H. WYMAN, Showrunner: Fringe, Almost Human

I’m all for small rooms. I’m a quiet thinker. I like to consider things a lot. When you have a room of 12 or 15 people that are like, “And this or that,” what it’s great for is that you get a whole bunch of great ideas. They come and they’re from anywhere. They run the gamut from being on-topic to off. Then you look at it and go, “I never would’ve thought of that,” and that’s great. What it also does is it derails you a lot of times because if you’re really trying to chase the rabbit of what you’re trying to say, you get a lot of different people who don’t really want to chase the same rabbit. Then all of a sudden you become shapeless. It’s my job as showrunner to say, “No. Wait guys. We need to focus on this.” It’s much easier to sit with the writers and actually just have two minutes of literal silence and just think about it. It’s so much easier to stay on theme and everybody gets it. It’s really become my favorite thing ever.

JAMES DUFF, Showrunner: The Closer, Major Crimes

I remember telling [TNT EVP] Michael Wright when we first pitched the show, “Right now, you’re only going to see the best I can do. Wait until I get into a room with seven really smart people, and then you can see how good the show can be with lots and lots of really smart people working at it,” and that’s what we’ve tried to do. We’ve tried to elevate the show every episode and we’ve hired people and we put together a team that’s dedicated to that principle.

I think part of the reason why the writing staff hasn’t changed is that the effort that every individual makes is recognized and appreciated. Everybody wants somebody to appreciate their contributions, and here, the writers are very much appreciated, not just by me—that would be natural, of course—but also by the actors and by post and by production. We are without hierarchy here, so that there are no factions and no separate camps.

Read it all


from TV Showrunners Share Their Writing Secrets!
Yahoo TV Talks to TVWriter™’s Herbie J Pilato

…Cuz let’s face it. Herbie J is the go-to guy when it comes to the beloved old series BEWITCHED. Check it out:

BEWITCHED at 50: How Samantha Got Her Nose Twitch
by Joal Ryan

Bewitched turns 50 years old today, so it’s about time you got something straight about the witch-marries-mortal sitcom: You’ve been doing Samantha’s spell-casting nose twitch all wrong.

“Everybody thinks it was the nose, and that’s why people can’t do it,” says author Herbie J. Pilato, who’s written two books about Bewitched star Elizabeth Montgomery and the definitive guide to her series, The Bewitched Book.

Explains Pilato: “You have to wriggle your upper lip, and then your nose.”

The very first nose twitch — or, rather, mouth twitch — occurs about five minutes into the very first Bewitched, which premiered on ABC on Sept. 17, 1964.

Newlywed Samantha Stevens, played by Montgomery, breaks out the move in an attempt to magically evict overbearing mother Endora (Agnes Moorehead) from Sam and husband Darrin’s honeymoon suite. Plot-wise, the twitch doesn’t work, but it sticks as a signature move — it’s immortalized from the get-go in the series’ animated opening-credits.

According to Pilato, the script for the Bewitched pilot called for Samantha to work her magic with a vague move — maybe a wave of the hand, or the arm.  But director William Asher, who was Montgomery’s husband, wanted something special.

Read it all


from Yahoo TV Talks to TVWriter™’s Herbie J Pilato
TVWriter™ Top Posts for the Week Ending 9/19/14

Here they are, the most viewed TVWriter™ posts during the past week:

Peggy Bechko: 4 Great Tips on Writing to the Magic

LB: What’s Up with Troy DeVolld?

Looking for TV Pilot Scripts?

Herbie J Pilato: Bewitched @ 50: Happy Silver Anniversary to Samantha and Darrin

The People – and Secrets – Behind Reality TV

And our most viewed resource pages were:

Writing the Dreaded Outline

THE SPEC SCRIPTACULAR

THE PEOPLE’S PILOT

The Logline

The Teleplay

Big thanks to everyone for making this such a great week, and don’t forget to read what you missed, re-read what you loved, and, most importantly, come back for more soon!


from TVWriter™ Top Posts for the Week Ending 9/19/14
TVWriter™ Top Posts for the Week Ending 9/12/14

Here they are, the most viewed TVWriter™ posts during the past week:

LB: What’s Up with Troy DeVolld?

Looking for TV Pilot Scripts?

Peggy Bechko: Six Tips to Creativity for Writers, Artists and Readers

Peggy Bechko: Chop, Hack and Whittle – A Writer’s Guide to Cutting Your Work

How Our Obsession With Closure Is Ruining Television

And our most viewed resource pages were:

Writing the Dreaded Outline

THE SPEC SCRIPTACULAR: Enter

THE PEOPLE’S PILOT

THE SPEC SCRIPTACULAR

The Logline

Big thanks to everyone for making this such a great week, and don’t forget to read what you missed, re-read what you loved, and, most importantly, come back for more soon!


from TVWriter™ Top Posts for the Week Ending 9/12/14
TVWriter™ Top Posts for the Week Ending 9/5/14

Here they are, the most viewed TVWriter™ posts during the past week:

Looking for TV Pilot Scripts?

Peggy Bechko: So Finish It Already!

Peggy Bechko: The Symbiotic Relationship Between Writers & Readers

Peggy Bechko: Six Tips to Creativity for Writers, Artists and Readers

Love & Money Dept – TV Writing Deals for 8/30/14

And our most viewed resource pages were:

Writing the Dreaded Outline

THE SPEC SCRIPTACULAR: Enter

TVWriter™ Contributing Editors: Cara Winter

THE SPEC SCRIPTACULAR

THE PEOPLE’S PILOT

Big thanks to everyone for making this such a great week, and don’t forget to read what you missed, re-read what you loved, and, most importantly, come back for more soon!


from TVWriter™ Top Posts for the Week Ending 9/5/14
The People – and Secrets – Behind Reality TV

Click here to view the embedded video.

Just a few days ago, LB filled us in on what frequent TVWriter™ guest columnist Troy DeVolld is up to. (Hint, it’s very cool TV stuff.) So today we’re presenting links to Troy’s recent podcasts about the ins and outs, making and unmaking, “reality” and “writing” of the media in which Troy is so expert. And not only does Troy do some yakking, so do his equally impressive and creative friends.

Just click and Enjoy:

Ep 101 – Remember We’re Not Here; Joey Ortega

Troy DeVolld, author of the bestselling Reality TV: An Insider’s Guide to TV’s Hottest Market and RealityTvBook.com and producer with credits on shows like The Osbournes, The Surreal Life, Dancing With the Stars, Flipping Out, Basketball Wives and more, previews his upcoming regular podcast Remember, We’re Not Here, so named for the last words often spoken to reality television casts just before the cameras roll.

Troy’s guest for the inaugural podcast is Joey Ortega, Manager of Development for Howie Mandel’s Alevy Productions, which has recently brought Mobbed and Deal With It (airing Wednesdays at 10:30/9:30C on TBS) to life.

Highlights of the podcast include a round of “Real or Fake,” Ortega’s advice to game show creators, and DeVolld forcing Ortega to resolve imaginary showdowns between the greatest game show hosts of all time.

Tracks featured in the podcast include The Builder, Overcast, Music to Delight, Monster Promenade, Disco Con Tutti, Monkeys Spinning Monkeys, Vegas Glitz and Jaunty Gumption by Kevin MacLeod of incompetech.com.  Music is licensed via Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

Ep 102 Remember We’re Not Here: Andrew Hoagland

Troy DeVolld, reality television producer and author of Reality TV: An Insider’s Guide to Television’s Hottest Market welcomes Andrew Hoagland, whose credits include Surf Girls, The Bachelor, American Inventor and Basketball Wives for a discussion of his career, various insights into reality television storytelling, and even a few games.

To play along with the MEMORY LANE game, pull up Andrew Hoagland’s imdb.com profile.  For the Sherwood Schwartz book referenced by Andrew, click HERE.

Music featured in the podcast and licensed via Creative Commons (by attribution) includes the tracks Music to Delight, Jaunty Gumption, Miri’s Magic Dance, Monster Promenade, Disco Con Tutti, Vegas Glitz and Monkeys Spinning Monkeys, all by Kevin MacLeod of incompetech.com.

Ep 103 Remember We’re Not Here: Shelly Goldstein

Troy DeVolld, reality television producer and author of Reality TV: An Insider’s Guide to TV’s Hottest Market, welcomes multi-hyphenate writer/producer Shelly Goldstein to the podcast.  Highlights include another round of Real or Fake, the never to be repeated Idol/Not Idol, and discussion of Goldstein’s strange journey from her big break on Laverne and Shirley to a number of reality television credits and beyond.

Music featured on the podcast includes the tracks Jaunty Gumption, Miri’s Magic Dance, One-Eyed Maestro, Vegas Glitz, The Builder, Disco Con Tutti and Monkeys Spinning Monkeys, Monster Promenade and Music to Delight, all by Kevin MacLeod of incompetech.com.

licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0.

Ep 104 Remember We’re Not Here; Carl Hansen

Reality TV Producer and Author Troy DeVolld (Basketball Wives, Hollywood Game Night, Reality TV: An Insider’s Guide to Television’s Hottest Market and Realitytvbook.com)welcomes Carl Hansen, Emmy® -nominated Producer of Shark Tank and current Director of Production at Fox Sports Originals.  In this informal episode of the podcast, recorded in DeVolld’s home over pizza and snacks, Hansen shares stories of his career beginnings, plays a round of REAL OR FAKE and poses an interesting and funny question about whether Rodney Dangerfield metaphors for the reality television business are intrinsically flawed.

As always, the podcast features tracks by Kevin MacLeod of incompetech.com with a complete track listing read off in the closing credits pursuant to Creative Commons Licensing with Accreditation.

Ep 105 Remember We’re Not Here: Jon Collins

Reality television producer and author Troy DeVolld (Basketball Wives, Dancing With the Stars, Hollywood Game Night and Reality TV: An Insider’s Guide to TV’s Hottest Market) welcomes reality television producer Jon Collins (Off Pitch, Total Divas, Breaking Pointe) for an interview with the actor turned reality pro.

Highlights include a round of REAL OR FAKE, a discussion about married couples within the industry and some frank talk about underestimating the intelligence of reality television audiences.

Musical selections by Kevin MacLeod of Incompetech.com are listed at the end of the broadcast and used under Creative Commons License by Attribution.


from The People – and Secrets – Behind Reality TV
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