SHOW: The Making and Unmaking of a Network Television Pilot By

“A devastating chronicle of an aborted series.” Publishers Weekly

For every hit TV show, there are a hundred misses…thousands if you include the ones that never made it past their pilot, the sample episode of the proposed series.

This is the inside story of one of those doomed TV pilots, a would-be 1990 sitcom about presidential speechwriters first titled E.O.B., then The War Room, and finally Word of Mouth, developed by the acclaimed writer/producerteam of Bruce Paltrow, Tom Fontana, and John Tinker, fresh off of their Emmy award-winning success St. Elsewhere and in huge demand by the networks. The producers granted journalist Daniel Paisner unprecedented access, revealing for the first time exactly how television gets made… and how it doesn’t.

Show is a ground-breaking book about television that hasn’t lost its impact or relevance with the passage of time…remaining unmatched for its insights into the pilot production process. Now it’s back in print with the author’s new introduction and an afterword by Phoef Sutton, the multiple Emmy award winning writer/producer of Cheers and Boston Legal.

Praise for Show

“Paisner takes us through the process from inception to turn-down, documenting in almost day-to-day detail the messy mechanics behind the high gloss of network television. What it shows best is the screwball randomness of network television, where the unlikeliest premise can command enormous resources and generate a monster hit–or not.” Los Angeles Times

Show has made me re-live the many pilots I have worked on… and even though much has changed, much has remained the same. I don’t know whether to thank you for that or curse you!” Phoef Sutton, from his Afterword

“If a camel is a horse designed by a committee, successful TV shows, on the evidence of the cautionary tale at hand, almost have to be accidents of nature… a riveting, revelatory account of the economic, creative, and pop-cultural forces shaping the entertainment fare available on home screens. One of the better inside-appreciations of the chancy, high-stakes game of broadcast TV.” Kirkus Reviews

“Regardless of its age and changes to the industry over the past 30 years, Show gives one of the best glimpses behind the curtain at how TV gets made that I’ve read. Paisner doesn’t just observe — although there are some real eye-openers. Show is a must-read for TVphiles and offers cautionary tales for those working in the business.” Rob Owen, TribLive

Originally published as Horizonal Hold



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