My job was to find interesting material that would give us a quality television show.
In the history of pilot reports, ‘Seinfeld’ has got to be one of the worst of all time.
When you’re still in the broadcast business, you’re still trying to reach tens of millions. You’re trying to still aim for a broader audience, and I think that’s a more difficult task to spread yourself across that audience, connect with them, as opposed to a very, very small, pinpointed audience. Difficult to do.
One way in which ‘Friends’ did resemble ‘Seinfeld’ is that it really found its audience over the summer of 1995 in reruns. That’s when the main title song, ‘I’ll Be There for You’, by the Rembrandts, exploded, too.
Two hundred channel choices in most homes certainly gives you the world of choice. And so slicing it, dicing it, and offering someone their favorite thing – by the way, if it’s not good enough, make it yourself and post it.
My last series was on A.B.C., a one-hour called ‘My Generation’. Critics liked it. I was on for two weeks, and that was a tough one.
When we developed the ‘Seinfeld’ show, we took a bet on Jerry Seinfeld, who was not a household name. But Jerry had a voice. He was appearing on ‘Late Night’, on ‘The Tonight Show’, had some commercials out there, his voice of observational comedy, looking at the world around him, that voice was really starting to come into its own.
What Must-See T.V. was all about was one network, one night, for one decade. And a third of the country would come and watch Must-See T.V. And you didn’t dare go to work the next day, because if you hadn’t watched, you would be left out of the conversation, that water-cooler conversation.
Innovation comes to you from creators who do have a vision and a passion, and that is how we succeeded.
Our D.V.R.s make up the schedule of the shows that we’re passionate about. You want Jon Stewart? You’ve got it. Your D.V.R. will give that to you, as opposed to making the destination and the choice to spend that evening with a network.
I loved growing up in Montclair… I think it’s grown and changed and embraced change.
The writers and actors on ‘Friends’ were notoriously particular about what made it onto the air.
A ‘Friends’ shoot night could extend well into the small hours of the morning.
NBC’s pilot season of 1994 is legendary in the business. In a world where failure is commonplace, we midwifed the birth of both ‘Friends’ and ‘ER’. While ‘ER’ came essentially out of the blue, we’d been casting around for a ‘Friends’-like show for some time at the network.
‘A Different World’ didn’t have the blazing success that ‘Cosby’ had, but it was on for seven seasons, and we got a lot of awards, and a lot of faces came out of that show and have had great careers.
You don’t know what the country is ready for unless you’re pushing that envelope, and I was told that I couldn’t develop ‘Will and Grace’.
There’s no reason that there has to be a fringe network that illuminates an urban or a multiethnic experience.
While ‘Friends’ was about a 20-something population and what they were going through, they were also dealing with issues with their family.
I believe America wants and needs the shared experience of television. We far too often see in crises how television brings us together.
At the end of Season 1 of ‘Cheers’, it was the lowest rated show in all of network television… So we turn to ‘Bill Cosby’; when he came to Thursday night, he just exploded. And once the audience was there, we said, ‘Hey, by the way, we also have this other great show. It’s called ‘Cheers’.’
When in life do you get a black and white printout that says this is what you should do? It just doesn’t happen.
‘Friends’ played in this territory of being funny, and then also just grabbing your heart. And not afraid of that. It was a comedic soap opera. Not being afraid to have an audience feel something, laugh and cry, was quite extraordinary and quite wonderful.