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01/21/2006: JIP RIP
Hey, remember Buffy's mom? She had that brain tumor and she got really sick. But then she turned a corner and she got better, stronger, healthier every week. And then she dropped dead and it felt like the floor fell out from under your feet. That's what happened to Jake in Progress this week. Every day, it seemed more and more likely that we were going to film the entire order, to shoot all 13 episodes. We showed up for work on Thursday, expecting to actually spend a late night re-writing episode ten. Then, not so much. Jake was gone.
Other than the five years at Buffy, I've walked into a new job every year of my writing career. This is quite normal. More shows die than live. During that year, you meet and work with a new group of people. The writing staff. You may see the actors now and then. If you spend a lot of time on the stage you may even see them every day. But the other writers... those are your people. Working on a writing staff is a strangely intimate experience. You share the room with these five-to-twelve people for very long hours, doing a job that requires you to discuss your own life and emotional landscape. The rules of the room don't allow for a lot of "I'd rather not discuss it," either, so there's not much that goes unplumbed. And then, with very little warning it all ends with an extravagent lunch at Ivy By The Shore and a series of hugs. Everyone says "I'm sure we'll work together again." I've said that a lot over the years. Once it even happened. We worked together again.
I've loved my return to half-hour comedy. Joke-writing is a gloriously satisfying experience. And it's mysterious. All the best joke writers I've ever known have at some point said, after pitching a very funny line, "I don't know where that came from." Artistic inspiration taking the form of a put-down joke or piece of wordplay. Now, that's a fun job.
The Jake in Progress staff was great. I'll miss all of them. I'm sure we'll work together again. Sniff.
Yesterday's lunch: rich corn chowder and a hot fudge sundae at Ivy By The Shore
Today's lunch: health food from the gym
UPDATE: This post is misleading -- Jake was not cancelled, merely had its order reduced. See the later post "Clarification" for more details.