Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Lot: A Rant

I've made no secret that I've enjoyed "On The Lot" during it's one-and-done run this summer, so much so that I'm disappointed that it won't be renewed.

But last night's episode was pretty frustrating on a couple of counts.

First off, they couldn't get the three remaining directors to make one more film and save the director's choice for next week? What in the world are they going to do for next week's finale? It isn't going to take an hour to announce the winner. One of the biggest problems co-producer Mark Burnett has had with all his reality shows is that he always drags out the endings.

By having one more original film last night, they could have saved having the director's choice for the final episode, then announce the winner, since people were voting on films they had already seen.

That is, when they were able to vote. You'd think that for the final vote, Fox would have someone to check to make sure the online voting actually worked. But, no, that seemed to involve too much effort.

I dutifully logged in to "The Lot's" Web site and tried half-a-dozen times to vote, only to have the box pop up and say it wasn't the regularly scheduled time to vote. Finally, with about 10 minutes left in the voting window, they hadn't fixed the problem, but did put the phone numbers to call for the favorite directors. By that time, there wasn't much you could do to call in.

And, for some incomprehensible reason, Jason continues to be the most popular guy, even though he's inconsistent at best. I also thought Will had done better stuff than the guy-in-a-dress short, and that it wasn't his best choice. But then, I think Jason made a big mistake going with his horror short rather than the old men break-dancing short.

Anyway, if Fox mis-handled the penultimate episode of this series, one wonders what will happen in the finale.

WEDNESDAY'S BEST BETS: Well, last week's installment of "Rescue Me" (FX, 10 p.m.) was pretty disappointing, but I'm hoping this week's installment with Gina Gershon gets the show back on track.

I'm guessing the reruns of "The Nine" didn't take, because ABC is running "NASCAR in Primetime" in its place at 10 p.m.


Hotspur said...


I agree with you regarding "The Lot". Luckily I am not computor literate so I was able to vote. The program was pretty stupid as we saw what we had already seen.

I don't know how Burnett will drag out the show. Interviews with contestants long forgotten ? I am sorry to hear it has not been renewed. Forsome weird it did not earn a following. Considering the rubbish on TV it is really sad.

Re "The Nine", why did the network bring it back and then cancel it again. The fact we don't learn the outcome means we have invested all that time for naught.

Phillip Ramati said...

It seems to be Burnett's modus operandi, since he also dragged out the finales of The Apprentice and Survivor. The Lot's ratings were such that it never really caught on with people, which was a shame. But I think Fox was hoping it would be another American Idol type phenomenon.

As for The Nine, we wouldn't have found out how it ended anyway, since the plot was supposed to unfold over an entire season, and they only filmed less than half. I don't understand why ABC brought it back in the first place and expected people to suddenly start watching, particularly with the show's serial nature.

Jonathan said...

I think the lack of success of "Lot" can be whittled down to the fact that most people just aren't that interested in the people behind the scenes when it comes to a movie. I believe your average moviegoer is much more enthralled with the actor or just the overall film itself (How it looks, special effects, etc.). And in the most recent trend over the past few years, people have a growing obsession with box office numbers, which to this day drives me crazy. But I digress.

Me and a couple of my movie/tv fanatic friends were talking about this the other day. The comparison to the mega-institution that is "American Idol" came up in the conversaiton. And one point brought up was that people are also not interested in the music business as a whole, just the final product. Still, I think "AI" has the luxury of not making the singers create original songs (Which I still think they should make them do at least one of the weeks), and instead gives them a week to memorize a cover song, and try their best to bring their own originality to it which they rarely do and are still praised ad nauseam. This gives the audience something easier for them to relate to. I've always been curious that if they had the directors recreate famous scenes from existing films would this make more people inclined to sit down each week and watch it. I doubt it, but it's an interesting idea. Although, I don't think I would enjoy it nearly as much.

But even for us "movie geeks" if that's what you must call us, the show still has its problems. The most prominent one for me is the ridiculous time frame for the shorts to be completed. I've never tried to direct a film or had a meeting for that purpose. However, I have a feeling that if Steven Speilberg saw something I did and liked it, he wouldn't pull me in and say "We really liked the stuff you've done in the past and we would like you to possibly do a film for us. However, first I want you to make a three minute film in 2 days with this logline..." And I understand this is a contest, but the whole concept seems so lucicruous at times, that I had a hard time buying into it. The other big problem for me was that like most reality shows, they went for personality over talent in a lot of the final contestants. This showed greatly in the first few weeks. Thankfully, unlike most reality shows the right people have made it to the finale for the most part. Although, I would replace Jason with Zach, but still not too shabby.

I too am upset that there will not be a second season, but at the same time I'm not suprised it failed. I just hope that down the road somebody tries this type of format again and just attacks it a little better. I think on a cable station like Bravo did with "Project Greenlight," it would stand a better chance at succeeding. So, let's hope this isn't the last time we see a reality show of this nature.

Phillip Ramati said...

Unfortunately, Jonathan, I don't see another show of this type on the horizon in the near future, with both this failure and Project Greenlight.

You're correct, this isn't the best format for trying to discover new filmmakers, though they did get a pretty good bunch in the final five.

PGL was a much better format in terms of picking a winner, then watching him make the film, though the choices the judges made in those contests were pretty questionable themselves. None of the PGL filmmakers, except for the writing team in PGL 3, have been able to parlay their victory into continued success.

In the end, there really isn't a good TV format for discovering new filmmaking talent, which is why new filmmakers will have to go the route the rest of us do, which is hitting the pavement.

The AI format is ultimately more successful, because all they have to do is sing. (You're right, they should have to try to write at least one song). I think also having someone like Simon Cowell as part of the show is a big reason. On all these other type of reality shows, every other judge is usually doing a Simon ripoff.

zodin2008 said...

Phillip, actually, I thought last week's "Rescue Me" was the first really good one all year. And that's the one you complain about?

Of course, I am still bitter over how horribly written the entire Sean-burns-Mike's-mom's-house-down bit was. It was truly the lowest form of half ass writing I have ever seen in my life. "Rescue Me" should be ashamed.