A panel of writer-producers slammed NBC for taking 10 p.m. dramas off the table and airing a comedy chat show starring Jay Leno on weeknights this fall.
“I feel they should take down their American flag and put up a white one,” “Rescue Me” showrunner Peter Tolan said. “They’ve clearly given up — ‘We can’t find anything that’s going to get any traction so we quit.'”
“The reason you’re hearing such a visceral backlash is specific to NBC,” added “Shield” creator Shawn Ryan. “You have a generation of writers growing up on their shows … so it feels offensive to me because it’s that network. It used to stand for something better.”
The comments were made during cable network FX’s showrunners panel at the semi-annual TV critics press tour in Pasadena.
When a reporter reminded the panel of NBC’s economic argument — that Leno will give the network a superior profit margin — Ryan disagreed.
“What’s the value of [‘Leno Show’] show after it airs?” Ryan asked. “They can’t sell that on DVD. They can’t sell it overseas. Nobody wants to watch it three weeks later. ‘Heroes’ is very expensive to make, but it has value all across the world. There’s a reason they’re in [the drama] business — when it works, they make a lot of money.”
One critic pointed out Leno’s defense, that the talk show host’s writers are among the highest paid in the business. Ryan countered that it’s about the overall numbers — how many writers and crew members that will no longer get jobs on NBC programs now that Leno’s show will take most of the network’s 10 p.m. slots.
Added “Sons of Anarchy” showrunner Kurt Sutter about NBC: “They’re sort of the bastards to hate right now.”
Incidentally, speaking of talk shows, NBC, and GE’s perceived savior, on Twitter, Andrew Malcolm of the L.A. Times paraphrases a Conan O’Brien riff on lowered expectations: “Conan: Obama polls slip to new low, which explains his new secret service code name — NBC.”