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A Look At Development Hell At Viacom/UPN

El Cosmico here, with word from an insider at Viacom, who has been kind enough to send along some insights, her opinions, as to the goings on. Rather strongly felt, it seems, and a bit on the tabloid side if you ask me, but I think some of you may have an interest in this stuff. I'm sure you'll let me know how you feel about it. Take it away, Viacom Girl.

Over at UPN, there’s a pilot script being written based on the comic book character “Thor” which the suits there bought because Thor looks sorta like a wrestler.  I kid you not.  Then there’s a possible series based on Stephen King’s “The Dead Zone” because clearly audiences miss “The Sentinel” so much.  (Don’t remember “The Sentinel”?  You’re not alone.  Some of us joke UPN ought to have a contest where the viewer who can name what other shows we air besides “Voyager” and“Smackdown” wins some sort of grand prize... like a TV without our network on it.)

I’m sure many people are wondering what’s the status of the new “Star Trek” series.  Those people are the crew working on “Voyager” who right now wonder what their next gig will be. Here’s the deal. You’re hearing that because of potential show business strikes starting in May the next “Star Trek” show is on hold. That’s not the reason.  The truth is it’s because the starship UPN is so shaky. There are cups of cottage cheese that have shelf lives longer than the dumb place.  For Paramount not to give its own network the next “Star Trek” show would be perceived as a fatal blow to UPN, but the studio doesn’t want to risk continuing the franchise on a network which might only last two or three years tops. They want every “Star Trek” show to run at least seven years not just for syndication but also so whatever Vulcan character on the ship has a shot at getting laid at least once.

There’s supposedly a script for the next “Star Trek” show that’s been written but no one at UPN has read it.  They always guard this stuff like top government secrets but the simple truth is NOBODY CARES ABOUT STAR TREK ANYMORE!!!  Thanks to producer Rick Berman and his tired bunch of writers -- millions of former Trekkers have finally gotten a life.  Either that or they watch “Farscape” instead. Paramount itself started a rumor that both NBC and Fox were interested in the next “Trek” and they exaggerated the meaning of the word“ interest” to make it all seem more important than it really was.  (Incidentally, the guy who was potentially "interested" in the new “Trek” show at NBC was already fired.  Since he was the dude who put “Titans” on I think that says how totally out of it he was to still be into Trek.)

Wonder what some of the suits here think of Rick Berman?  Surprisingly they agree with a lot of AICN readers.  They seem jealous of all the money he’s made and often talk about how much weight he’s put on over the years, especially in the bank account. If Gene Roddenberry meant “Star Trek” to be his “Wagon Train To The Stars” then to Berman it’s been “Gravy Train To Financial Security.”  Sadly, he ain’t planning to let this gravy train go anytime soon and those dilithium crystals are almost dry now.

Speaking of “Trek”, a really good writer was Tracy Torme who wrote some really cool episodes of “Next Gen” before graduating from the Starfleet Writing School unlike all the others who’ve been repeating their courses and failing ever since.  He sold an animated series here awhile back called “Doomsday” which you probably read about from Howard Stern productions. Thanks to the suits at UPN, everything got messed up and they’re starting officially from scratch with a brand new writer.

The top guns at UPN think they know comedy and still believe “The Secret Diary Of Desmond Pha-feiffer” and “Shasta McNasty” were good shows despite the fact you could have bombed Iraq with those cassettes.

“Doomsday” is about post-apocalyptic America in the future; which will happen sooner rather than later with George W. Bush in office.  It needs to be smart and satirical to work but if the suits knew how to do a show like that then the place wouldn’t be the bottom of the barrel like it is. Then again, it's actually lower than that.

What’s worse is they think Howard Stern’s audience is mostly morons.  They’re also very condescending when talking behind the King Of All Media’s back.  Publicly they called him and kissed his ass saying how great they thought his cable show “Son Of The Beach” was but privately they both thought it was TERRIBLE! (They have a tendency to do that a lot. They bad mouth their own shows if you can believe it, which was the case for something called "The Beat". Even the producers heard about it and confronted 'em for bad mouthing THEIR OWN SHOW!)

Let me tell you something – I’m a Stern fan and listen to him every morning.  I think “Son Of The Beach” is great and I also think Stern’s a genius who would do a better job running UPN than these dudes here ever will. He knows more about comedy and also probably “Star Trek” , and they’re gonna keep “Doomsday” in development because the suits are real afraid the mighty Howard will start dumping on them and let loose his wrath on his radio show.  I wish he would, because it’s time he found a new “Pig Vomit” to yell about.

I look forward to whatever Stern’s next show is after “Beach” and hope it’s on a better place than UPN -- which means just about ANYWHERE ELSE! And in case you guys are wondering – no, I’m not a lesbian.


Ah, well, thank you VG, of course, it would be okay if you were. Anyway, that's fun, eh? Have a good day. Especially you folks over at Viacom and UPN.

-El Cosmico

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