Other Zwick/Herskowitz (Bedford Falls) TV shows, pilots, etc

Discuss former or new projects of The Bedford Falls Company (production company of "My So-Called Life"), Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick (executive producers) in this forum.
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Other Zwick/Herskowitz (Bedford Falls) TV shows, pilots, etc

Post by EricMontreal22 » Jul 23rd 2004, 8:00 pm

I'm a huge fan of all four TV drama series done by Herskowitz/Zwick--thirtysomething (why hasn't this come to DVD yet?), relativity, Once and again and of course MSCL.

I know They've had a couple of other pilots done that weren't picked up. Does anyone have any details on these pilots--have they leaked? Any story info? I remember one from around 97 was acutally profiled in a newspaper--called The Castle it wasa family drama--set hundreds of years ago in England. I know at leasta pilto was filmed.

Anything else?

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Post by EricMontreal22 » Sep 1st 2004, 2:43 am

No one knows anything?:(

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Post by Sascha (sab) » Sep 1st 2004, 5:05 am

No, unfortunately, there's not much known about these other BF projects. I have collected a few informations about these shows over the past years, but they're all widly distributed in many random files which I plan to clean up over the next months though. I'm planning to dedicate a big section of mscl.com to Bedford Falls in general.

I remember about "The Castle" that James Marsden and Billy Campbell were supposed to star in the show - The Powers That Be at ABC were highly excited about it (I think it was back in 1998), but they never committed beyond the pilot order. I don't have a clue what happened. If I remember correctly, that was already the second unsucessful BF pilot with Campbell - they finally made it work in the third pilot: "Once and Again".

Last year (or the year before that) BF produced their last pilot - something about a boy alone in the big city. But no network picked it up and then came "The Last Samurai" and Zwick/Herskovitz were too busy producing this feature film to do any TV work. I'm not sure whether they still have a deal with ABC - their movies get now distributed by Warner Brothers.
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Post by EricMontreal22 » Sep 4th 2004, 11:05 pm

Thanks for the info! It always bugs me that some MSCL fans seem to have no interest in the other shows--while MSCL is my fave I find many of the things I love in it in their other shows. Here in canada they just started reairing thirtysomething (which I've only seen the last year of) and although the dialogue is a bit over the top in the early eps I'm loving it.

They all seem to exist in the same "world" (with the thirtysomething O&A crossover)--The Castle sounded so different. That said I have to admit i'm nto as big a fan of their movie work--they always seem to make EPIC movies yet make these intimate domestic tv shows

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Post by Nostradamus » Sep 5th 2004, 1:50 am

While I was doing some research for the bonus DVD transcript, I came across an interview with Zwick and Herskovitz on the AFI website. Unfortunately, one must be a paying member of the AFI to read the article. I don't suppose we have any AFI members around here...?

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Post by EricMontreal22 » Sep 6th 2004, 9:13 pm

Ah I'd love to read that interview. hrmm

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Post by EricMontreal22 » Sep 7th 2004, 10:10 pm

Interesting that neither the Castle or the other pilotmentioned seem to fit in withthe other four Bedford Falls shows (I know some jockingly refer to each by their major generation--teens for MSCL, twentysomethings for Relativity, thirtysomething and fortysomething for O&A) I guess there's no chance of the pilots showing up on shows like that recent Bravo (?) series of unaired pilots.

Of course Herkovitz and Zwick were less involved in MSCL or relativity than the other two (relativity sharing the least number of writers and directors withthe others) but all four definetly share much of the same feel (I'd say relativity has more in common with the other Bedford Falls shows than Jason Katim's later tv work)

I just hope we get all on DVD eventually

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Post by Sascha (sab) » Sep 8th 2004, 4:00 am

EricMontreal22 wrote:Interesting that neither the Castle or the other pilotmentioned seem to fit in withthe other four Bedford Falls shows
Yeah, they were/are quite "diverse" in their activities. Herskovitz once even developed a sitcom pilot for ABC in 1998.
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Post by EricMontreal22 » Sep 8th 2004, 7:11 pm

A sitcom starring Saget? ARGH. Still some of the early thirtysomething eps (the ones Zwick and Herskovitz recently admitted WERE too talky), before the show really got into its groove have a sorta sitcomey feel--in terms of some of the humour and dialogue

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Post by Natasha (candygirl) » Sep 24th 2004, 1:26 am

Sascha (sab) wrote:I'm not sure whether they still have a deal with ABC
FYI - here is a transcript of an old NY Times article from 1998. Although it doesn't answer the question about whether BF still has a deal with ABC, it outlines the terms of the contract:
Novel TV Deal Could Rein In Program Costs
By Bill Carter

In a case of the right talent meeting the right need at the right time, Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz, the creators of the 1980's ABC hit show ''Thirtysomething,'' have concluded a complicated new television series deal that several participants say may be the first step in a radically changed approach to controlling escalating program costs.

The deal is unusual in several ways, beginning with the fact that it involves four series at two networks, ABC and Fox, under the control of two Hollywood studios, Disney and Fox. But it is the element of who will own the rights to future sales of the shows -- should they be successful -- that places the deal at the heart of the issue roiling the entire television industry.

Under the deal, Bedford Falls, the company owned by Mr. Zwick and Mr. Herskovitz, will create at least three new shows for ABC, all to be produced through Buena Vista Television, the studio owned by ABC's parent, the Walt Disney Company. They will also create at least one new show for the Fox network, produced through a subsidiary of Fox Television, the studio owned by the Fox Inc. unit of the News Corporation. Thus, in both cases the shows will be partly owned by the companies that own the networks broadcasting the shows.

Earlier this year, NBC was forced to pay the Warner Brothers unit of Time Warner Inc. $286 million a year to retain ''E.R.,'' television's most popular show. In the wake of that, numerous producers and studio executives have said NBC, in an apparent attempt to control future costs, is pressing creators of programs either to cede some of the ownership rights to the network or else to sign licensing contracts that give the network exclusive rights to the show for up to 10 years. Executives at NBC, a unit of the General Electric Company, deny those reports.

Still, referring to the reports about NBC, Mr. Zwick said: ''This seems to be the trend. In making this deal, we were looking for a way for the artist to fit into this changing dynamic.'' Mr. Herskovitz added, ''Without a doubt, the ownership issue drove this deal.''

In a change from conventional practice, Mr. Zwick and Mr. Herskovitz will receive more than 50 percent of the syndicated rerun profits from all the shows they create under this deal.

''This deal represents what the future is going to be,'' said Lloyd Braun, the chairman of Buena Vista. ''The system as currently constituted is madness.''

Under the current system, studios pay established writers millions of dollars in upfront fees to secure their talents to create shows. While the studios retain the bulk of ownership rights, the writers end up with modest profits when or if the shows are successful. They rarely are.

''In success, the studios make loads of money,'' Mr. Braun said. ''But when the shows fail, they get killed. At what point does it make sense to limit your costs by giving up a little of the upside profits? The business is so tough today. It's so illogical that no one is doing this.''

When Mr. Braun joined Disney in March, he learned that ABC had already made a deal with Mr. Zwick and Mr. Herskovitz for three series. But the shows were to be produced through a Fox subsidiary run by Arnan Milchan, a producer for whom Mr. Herskovitz had directed the movie, ''Dangerous Beauty.''

Mr. Braun stepped in to steer the ABC network deal to his studio. ''This kind of vertical integration is coming,'' he said. ''In the end, the most valuable real estate for us is ABC real estate.''

Mr. Braun's pursuit of ownership rights of shows set for Disney's network dovetailed with a plan hatched by Mr. Zwick and Mr. Herskovitz and their agent, Alan Berger, and lawyer, Craig Jacobson.

''Both our fathers had their own businesses,'' Mr. Herskovitz said. Mr. Zwick added, ''We wanted to be more entreprenuerial.''

On ''Thirtysomething,'' the two writers had taken what Mr. Zwick called ''sizable fees'' to produce the show. But while the show went on to make tens of millions of dollars in syndicated and foreign sales for its repeats, ''We made tens of dollars,'' Mr. Zwick said. That was because they retained such a small percentage of the profits from the show.

The experience left the two writers intrigued by the possibility of taking some upfront risk for the potential of millions of dollars in future profits. ''We've had creative autonomy,'' Mr. Zwick said. ''Financial autonomy has also been a dream.''

Mr. Berger and Mr. Jacobson said they had pitched to several studios the idea of forgoing any upfront fees to Mr. Zwick and Mr. Herskovitz in exchange for more than 50 percent of later profits -- if there were any.

''We had a fully negotiated deal with another studio with guaranteed money,'' said Mr. Berger, who is executive vice president of International Creative Management. But when he and Mr. Jacobson tried to rework the deal to eliminate the upfront money in exchange for bigger rights to rerun profits, the studio balked, he said.

Mr. Jacobson, of the law firm Hansen, Jacobson, Teller & Hoberman, said: ''Other studios told us: 'We're not in that business; we spend the money and we get the lion's share in the end.' '' The odd thing, both men said, was that in the movie side of their business, studios made similar deals all the time, ceding big percentages of gross profits to actors and directors in lieu of upfront fees.

With Mr. Braun involved, Mr. Jacobson said, things began to change. ''First of all, it was made clear to us that the shows Marshall and Ed did for ABC were going to go to the Disney studio and the ones for the Fox network to Fox studio,'' he said.

Indeed, Mr. Braun said he saw no reason to insist that all the new Zwick-Herskovitz shows be controlled by his studio. Other producers have shows at two networks at the same time. David E. Kelley, for example, has ''Ally McBeal'' on Fox and ''The Practice'' on ABC. Both shows belong to Fox Television.

That kind of split is less likely to be seen in the future, as studios hold onto shows for their own networks, Mr. Braun said. ''If we produce a hit show for another network, it is going to take some pound of flesh from ABC,'' he said.

Mr. Berger questioned how many show creators would forgo the big initial fees for a chance at much bigger, but much riskier future profits, as Mr. Zwick and Mr. Herskovitz did. Mr. Zwick said the deal depended on his and Mr. Herskovitz's controlling the shows' production costs.

''This is a very different type of arrangement,'' Mr. Braun said. ''But the business is being driven by insecurity and defensiveness. People want the safety net of saying, 'We got the guy everybody was going after,' even if it costs $4 million a year to sign him. No one has looked at the business and said it doesn't make sense to do things the same way anymore.''
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Post by Greybird » Sep 25th 2004, 7:51 am

I would be extremely likely to buy a "Relativity" DVD set. I was fascinated by it and enjoyed the acting, especially from Kimberly Williams ... though both interests were at least two orders of magnitude smaller than my similar interests in "MSCL."

Still, all I have are about 14 episodes recorded off of broadcast television via cable, and that with lousy reception on some of them for my (or my folks') local ABC stations. It's too flaky a recording to go back and revisit them, unlike what was true with my MTV tapes of "MSCL" (pre-Joyner-bootlegs).

I have seen NO Net discussion of the series anywhere, though, in six or more years. Nowhere, nohow, apart from a sentence or two at a forum like this one, referring in passing to other Bedford Falls projects. It seems to have fallen off the map, except for reciting what Z&H have done in the past -- and often then, as well.
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Post by special_k » Sep 25th 2004, 2:09 pm

Of all four series, Relativity said the least to me. This may sound funny, but I could really relate to the characters on Thirtysomething while in my early twenties. Now it's Once & Again's Karen Sammler I find myself closest to. What a shame ABC axed that series.
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Post by Natasha (candygirl) » Sep 25th 2004, 5:03 pm

I liked Relativity, and Kimberly Williams was great but the timeslot made it difficult for me to watch it regularly before it was cancelled. I liked it, but not enough to stay home every weekend (hey, I was 21!) or bother to set the VCR. Then I felt guilt-stricken when it was cancelled - not that I was a Nielsen family or anything, but just the principle of the matter. Now it's been so long that all I remember is that the two main characters met in Europe.
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Post by special_k » Sep 25th 2004, 5:49 pm

They met in Europe, had ludicrous chemistry, were starcrossed, came home, fought with their families, shacked up...then he slept with his boss. End of story. I couldn't stomach the cuteness of Kimberly Williams. She was sooo Tiffany Amber Annoying. The male lead was okay, but it was his roomie who was on the yummy menu. Of course, two of the actors ended up on Roswell, and another on Felicity.
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Post by EricMontreal22 » Sep 25th 2004, 6:27 pm

special_k wrote:Of all four series, Relativity said the least to me. This may sound funny, but I could really relate to the characters on Thirtysomething while in my early twenties. Now it's Once & Again's Karen Sammler I find myself closest to. What a shame ABC axed that series.
I have to largely agree. Maybe it was the age range--I watched MSCL when it first ran for the first time when I was 13/14, I'm now watching thirtysomething for the first time (on WTN in Canada) and I'm 24--nto thirtysomething but still I can already relate scarily too much. Once and Again I watched at 18-22, but Relativity I was 16 and it was largely from the point of view of the mid 20 romantic couple.

I only have about 4 episodes on tape but liek the previous poster, my copies are all over the place and not very good quality. I would hands down buy the series on DVD (17 eps aired right?) *I* did love the show. But its cancellation didn't upset me quite as much as MSCL or even O&A's after 3 years.

Relativity was a bit more "light" than the other series I think (the first half year of thirtysomething is largely quite light--but it took a while to find its real style I think).

However Relativity may have the least in common with the other shows--Herskovitz and Zwick didn't write OR direct any of the episodes of relativity (they didn't write any eps of MSCL but they did direct some). Also Winnie Holzman wrote eps of thirtysomething and O&A as wella s creating MSCL but not relativity. the other writing and directign staff is more consistant for T, MSCL and O&A than relativity. Katims, the creato of relativity went on to create Rossell and then become showrunner on Boston Common ( a show I hated tho I was a mild Rosswell fan)--although relativity does still havet hat unmistable Bedford Falls tamp.

jesus when are we gonna get these other shows on DVD? grumble...

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