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Home » Archives » May 2006 » Like Syndicating "Will" and "Grace"
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05/19/2006: Like Syndicating "Will" and "Grace"

When I got into the television writing business, the hour drama was dead. The Disney Fellowship didn't even accept hour long spec scripts as submissions. And, what's more, we were all told that the hour drama *couldn't revive.* It simply would never be possible, because syndication sales were driving the business and hour dramas didn't syndicate – didn't fit into those slots between the news and the prime-time line-up.

I was even told once that the only reason "Law and Order" was picked up, was because it was pitched as an hour that could be split up and syndicated as two separate half-hours: "Law" and "Order." (Presumably the regular viewers of "Law" would have to check in with the regular viewers of "Order" to find out if the guy arrested at the end of their episode actually did it.)

Things changed. A few successful hours took hold, other business models started shaping what was profitable and what was not… and now hourlong is king and the half-hour comedy is dead. Especially the multicamera shows. Friends and Frasier are gone and, some say, the format went with them, as doomed as radio plays.

At least two of my friends who have spent long and thriving careers in half hour are now dipping their toes into hour-writing for the first time. And many more of my comedy friends asked me to recommend them to hour shows. Where else is there to go?

Does this mean that you should all forget writing half-hour specs and only write dramas? Nope. Because when that pendulum comes back, it tends to do it fast. And right now it's pulled pretty tautly over to that one side. All it takes is one hot new multicamera sitcom hit and everything will change. And there won't be that many young writers with half hour specs, so life will be sweet for those who are ready.

Lunch: sashimi. Delicate and savory… mmm.


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Walt Disney Writing Fellowship Program
UC Berkeley
Jane recommends you also visit BobHarris.com



May 2006

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