Beverly Hills, Calif.--The jobs of network president has become so demanding that, from a show creator’s perspective, “The only thing you could hope for is that they’re actively excited about the possibility of making good television,” said Michael Schur, cocreator of NBC’s Parks and Recreation and Fox’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
Speaking at the Hollywood Radio and Television Society’s Summer Comedy Panel Wednesday at the Beverly Hilton, part of the organization’s Newsmaker luncheon series, Schur was asked about what qualities he hoped to see in a successor for outgoing Fox entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly.
“That’s something that Kevin had a lot of,” Mindy Kaling (pictured), creator and star of Fox’s The Mindy Project, said, as Schur said “yeah” in agreement. “He was excited about television. He was professorial when you’d come to talk about it.”
Kaling and Schur were joined onstage by Silicon Valley (HBO) creator Mike Judge, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX) cocreator and costar Rob McElhenney and moderator Matthew Belloni of The Hollywood Reporter.
“I guess Kevin is gone?” said Judge when describing a series that didn’t get picked up by Fox and joking that there might still be hope for the show. “Is that what I was gathering?”
All of the panelists had acted on their current or former shows, either in starring or recurring roles. For Judge, the experience has shaped how he looks for writers.
“People who have done a little bit of acting tend to write dialogue a little better,” Judge said. “They know that somebody has to say this stuff.”
“I like writerly actors and actorly writers,” she said.
The panelists bristled at the notion that certain shows are “niche” or “broad.” All four dismissed the idea that any creator would want to target a narrow audience.
“I don’t think anyone means to be a niche show,” Kaling said. “I happen to look like a niche show.”
McElhenney waved off a question about whether television is capable of producing another show with the huge audience of The Big Bang Theory, noting that Big Bang is still on the air and in its prime.
“It feels like the death of the sitcom has been around since the 70s,” McElhenney said. “Then The Cosby Show comes along and Thursday nights on NBC are the best thing that ever happened to television.”
The conversation also turned to series finales, and the enormous expectations around them. Schur, whose Parks and Recreation will end this coming season, described a cultural “expectation that the last episode has to be the best episode, which seems kind of silly to me.”
McElhenney, whose show was renewed in April for an 11th and 12th season, said he gives no thought to how to end Sunny.
“Why would we ever stop?” he asked, motioning to a table where FX Networks CEO John Landgraf sat. “These people are dumb enough to keep paying for it.”