As the entertainment world continues to look for ways in which having too much good TV content can be construed as bad, we find ourselves faced with this:
by Elizabeth Wagmeister
The 2015-16 television season has yet to begin, but high drama is already taking place behind the scenes. With less than one month until new shows premiere, four network series have seen their showrunners exit.
Why the sudden shuffle? In this era of “too much TV” — as FX Networks chief John Landgraf pointed out at this summer’s Television Critics’ Assn. press tour — insiders report the fallout is serious, with most veteran showrunners already booked on one of the 400-plus shows on air.
“Everyone is trying to jockey for position,” said Landgraf, giving a sobering assessment of the state of the TV biz. “We’re playing a game of musical chairs, and they’re starting to take away chairs.”
An industry insider tells Variety, “The business is going through some growing pains in terms of scarcity. There’s more to go around than people available.”
Another consequence of the content glut: Not only is the talent pool shallow, but networks are feeling even more challenged to stay ahead of the competition — on an ever-growing array of platforms.
There’s also increased scrutiny, along with less patience among programmers; letting a show marinate and find an audience is a thing of the past.
Agency types note there’s an enormous amount of pressure on the nets. Part of avoiding the risk of failure is making sure the head honcho is the best fit. “Showrunners are the CEOs of multimillion-dollar enterprises,” one agent points out.