Stephen Falk created and executive produced an NBC sitcom that you may never see on TV, Next Caller, starring Dane Cook and co-starring Collette Wolfe and Jeffrey Tambor.
The show was more than halfway through production, scheduled to debut in early 2013, when NBC abruptly pulled the plug on it. Falk offers his thoughts about what happened in this open letter, “Advice To Young TV Writers (but really: What Happened To My NBC Show). He writes:
Hey, you aspiring TV writers. It’s a hard job to crack into, but if you’re good enough and driven enough, it will happen for you. Don’t give up!
For if you work hard enough, someday you too may work on your own show for a year — from pitch to outline to script to pilot to the triumph of being picked up to series: the Golden Ticket. Then you might move across the country to actually make the show, hire a hundred actors and writers and crew members, and then in the middle of editing the 4th episode, get your show abruptly cancelled via late-night Friday phone call from Los Angeles. Then the fun part: you get to walk in shock back to your office — abandoning the confused editor waiting to lock the episode — and personally call all the actors and writers and crew and inform them the proverbial plug has been pulled and they no longer have a job, sorry. You will talk them through the tears and confusion — attempt to ameliorate the soon-to-be full-blown PTSD taking root already in them, all the while pre-knowing yours will go untreated and indeed sneak up on you weeks later. Do you clean out your office now? Do you wait — ? Shit! But first you better go see about that one prop for episode 5 you had to approve — oh, yeah. None of that matters. Everything has stopped. This is the moment after the 10.0 earthquake. Suddenly, nothing is the same. You don’t have a show anymore. Twenty minutes ago it was what took up 17 hours of your day. 24 hours of your mental real estate. It literally doesn’t exist anymore. The frozen people of Vesuvius had more warning than you did.
Okay, so this is clearly my indirect, cowardly way to get into finally talking about what happened to me when my midseason NBC sitcom Next Caller, was abruptly “cancelled” before it even aired a few weeks ago. As to why the decision was made to peacock us: there are many theories and reasons and sub-reasons — many having to do with them having no place for us with 5 midseason shows and never really committing to us that much in the first place by only ordering six episodes, and needing to focus advertising dollars on other shows that were working when some of their other new shows didn’t. But what it comes down to in the end is, I think, that they just didn’t like what I was doing that much.