I was in Burbank the other day, chatting with a network executive about the Telefilm program that brought me down to LA. She was surprised that so many of the other projects were being pitched by Canadian producers, with the writers not invited along. She thought it was odd that a producer would pitch a series, as if the network was buying a concept
. They're not, of course. They're buying a concept to be written by a writer
There are so few truly original series. A lot of what the networks buy are either old ideas rebuilt or ideas that are just out there. E.g. THE GLADES is about a city cop who moves to the country -- clever! -- while dozens of writers, including me, pitched shows set in the Kandahar combat hospital. What makes a show fresh is the writing, and that comes from the vision of the writer.
A fortiori, shows that truly are fresh. Who would have bought a show set in an ad agency in the 1960's? What they bought was Matt Weiner's vision of a time and a place and some characters and a style and a way of life. DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES wasn't a great concept
. It was a bravura pilot script that proved that Marc Cherry had a vision.
At any rate, that's how they think about it in LA.