Monday, June 15, 2009

Double linkage: Reader mail + DJ & The Fro

I've got not one, but two stories up on this morning, and one of them (for now, anyway) is online-only.

The first is my latest reader mailbag column, which includes letters on Kim Bauer's biological parentage, the return of "Mad Men" (mostly stuff discussed in last week's post on the subject), the allure of self-contained repeats vs. serialized ones, and more.

The second is an interview with Dave Jeser and Matt Silverstein, two Jersey-born comedy writers who created Comedy Central's "Drawn Together" and have a new daily strip show launching today at 5 on MTV called "DJ & The Fro," which is sort of a 21st century "Beavis & Butt-Head" about two losers who spend way too much time watching and commenting on viral videos. (There's an embedded clip in the story.)


jn613 said...

i enjoyed reading about dj & the fro, having not heard about them before. just a quick note that you may wish to fix the typo in the last paragraph; i'm sure you meant Israeli and not Isralie animator Roy Iddan.

Garlonaxia23 said...

DJ and the Fro was one of the worst things I've ever watched. I saw the premiere after the MTV movie awards. It's really, really, really bad.

Captain Frederick said...

If there was a show that was just a camera focused on a brick wall, and there was a spider crawling on it, and that was the entire show for 30 minutes, and it was called "Spider on a Wall", and somebody said "You have to watch either a 'Spider on the Wall' marathon or a 'DJ and the Fro' marathon," I would choose 'Spider on the Wall' marathon any day of the week.

Of all the shows I've seen in my life, nothing is worse.

tabernacle said...

"shows cost more the longer they're on": Alan, I take it that this is because actors' salaries go up every year, either sorta-automatically or precisely because they are on a confirmed-as-successful show (that generates ad revenues and has good chances of being bought for syndication).

I assume that, all other things being equal, viewers would rather have one show go on for five years than five shows last only one year. (I myself am a fan of serialized eps, as opposed to self-contained ones.) Off the top of my head, I guess there's no (good) way around the salary inflation [binding the actors to multi-year contracts at the outset seems harsh]. Have you encountered any models that somehow provide better chances for a show's longevity? I don't know if the UK model [short seasons] somehow circumvents the increased annual costs... Most UK shows run for one or two seasons and then have a clear endpoint, but some have been on for decades; is this possible simply because they rotate the cast?

I'm just wondering if there is a way to give shows (that will eventually find their rhythm) a better chance of staying on the air longer.

GabbyD said...

yes, i'd like to ask about why shows cost more the longer they are on...

is it really salary increases?

Tyroc said...


Actors are indeed signed up for multiyear deals before they do the pilot. 5 years being the norm (the thinking being that would get you to 100 episodes and syndication at which point the show finally starts making a profit for the studio and they can pay the actors more.)

Shows usually can only go 200 episodes as local affiliates don't want to pay for more than that.

So if an episode let's say costs 800 grand to produce (just hypothetical numbers), and the network that airs it pays 400 grand for the rights to air it twice, the studio that produced it loses 400 grand per episode for 100 episodes. But when it sells to syndication for 1.5 million per episode they've suddenly made a profit of 1.1 million per episode. And as they've now made 100 episodes the profit if 1.1 million times 100.

If the show is a rare huge hit, they can make 200 episodes (paying their actors more but also continuing to make a profit with each episode as shows that do that well usually sell to syndication for more than 1.1 million each episode.) At that point (200 episodes) the local affiliates have enough episodes to air it twice a day without viewers getting bored. But they don't need any more than that. So while they'll pay 1.1 million per episode up until that point, after that, they won't pay squat for the 201st episode.

So the show becomes unprofitable and goes off the air.

The exceptions are something like Friends that was such a monster in the ratings that it could pay for itself in advertising each time it aired (AND cover the high salaries of its stars.) And so the studio was able to charge a much higher fee for NBC to air it. Or a show like The Simpsons where actors fees have always been much lower as its animated and they're not on the cover of magazines. (Nor do they have to come in for many rehearsals like live-action actors who spend all day rehearsing.)

Hope that helps!

Anonymous said...

That clip is really not funny.

But maybe it works better in the show.

And why the hate on gypsies? Do they not know they're one of the most persecuted groups in Europe? Imagine if it were Jews. Kinda gross to be mocking them like that.

olucy said...

Wow. Thanks to everyone for the heads up. I will definitely not waste my time checking this out. I trust your instincts.

tabernacle said...

Thank you, Tyroc; I found the example you provided very insightful. I appreciate it!

GabbyD said...

so its NOT the actors salaries that make a show more expensive..