Friday, November 10, 2006

Studio 60 gets full season pick-up

Variety reports that Aaron (The West Wing) Sorkin's new drama Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip has gotten a full season pick-up from NBC in America. The show's fate has been the subject of endless speculation, thanks to being an expensive production with mediocre ratings. But Studio 60 attracts a wealthy, upscale demographic that works well for advertisers, so NBC has ordered a full set of 22 episodes. [Apparently the network also negotiated a cheaper price per episode, letting the programme makers carry more of the financial risk - nice work, if you can get it.] But the fate of critically acclaimed Friday Night Lights still hangs in the balance. Much as I love Sorkin's work, I'd rather have a full season of FNL - it makes me care about the characters and want to know what happens to them next.

Making the audience care about your characters is one of the key things that's come up again and again on the BBC Radio drama lab I'm on at the moment. We had an afternoon session with playwright Gregory Burke yesterday. Half the people attending the lab were in awe of him, his writing and what he's achieved. Sadly, I've never see one of his plays, so I wasn't meeting one of my heroes. But he was funny, genuine and full of enthusiasm for writing - just the sort of scribe you like to meet. He made mention of a an acclaimed writer who's not working at the moment, after losing their confidence, losing their bottle.

Bottle is such an important yet intangible part of the writer's armour. You've got to beleive you have something to say, a voice with which to say it and a story worth telling - otherwise it's all too easy to give up or find yourself doing hackwork to pay the bills. Two weeks back I had a couple of bad days back to back, and felt two key projects coming apart in my hands. If nothing else, going on the radio lab has done wonders for helping me rediscover my confidence. I've found my bottle and I know how to use it. I feel like James Brown - good.

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