11:37am PT by Jordan Zakarin
'Next Caller' Creator Bares Soul Over NBC Abandonment
NBC silenced Next Caller, but creator Stephen Falk will have the last words. Many of them.
The former Weeds writer/producer had his talk radio-set comedy, starring Dane Cook and Collette Wolfe, slated for mid-season but canceled by the network before it ever aired; the four episodes produced did not take the creative direction that NBC had hoped for.
In a new post to his website, Falk gives a raw account of the moments that followed word of the cancellation, and the difficulties he had with the network.
Of breaking the news to his staff, Falk writes, "You will talk them through the tears and confusion — attempt to ameliorate the soon-to-be full-blown PTSD taking root already in them, all the while pre-knowing yours will go untreated and indeed sneak up on you weeks later... Everything has stopped. This is the moment after the 10.0 earthquake. Suddenly, nothing is the same."
After the October cancellation, Falk stayed for a time in New York, where the show was being produced, spiritually and physically sitting in the dark thanks to the electrical outages caused by Hurricane Sandy. He drove across the country, finding himself drinking whiskey and eating Taco Bell at a motel in Arizona, when he was finally able to collect his thoughts.
"As to why the decision was made to peacock us," he writes, "there are many theories and reasons and sub-reasons — many having to do with them having no place for us with 5 midseason shows and never really committing to us that much in the first place by only ordering six episodes, and needing to focus advertising dollars on other shows that were working when some of their other new shows didn’t. But what it comes down to in the end is, I think, that they just didn’t like what I was doing that much."
Falk goes on to praise his stars, from Cook and Wolfe to other cast members such as Jeffrey Tambor, and stops short of eviscerating NBC.
"I don’t really blame anyone. The network executives are people doing a difficult job," he admits. "People I mostly really like. I was a first-time showrunner 3,000 miles away — naturally it was not the most comfortable position for them. They couldn’t really keep an eye on me or give me notes in person... We are monkeys who need to look into each other’s faces to gauge true intent, and on speakerphone with 11 people (9 of whom you haven’t met) giving you notes on something you’ve made your whole writing staff stay up until 3am working on in the room, miscommunication can be the only outcome."
Now, he has another couple of pilots in development -- ironically, one at NBC, and one, originally developed for Showtime, being reworked -- and looks to the future, even if he's still feeling the burn of the recent past.