Here’s a Friday Question that just became a Holiday Question. Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day, everybody.
Johnny Walker asks:
On the rare occasions that shows are cancelled, but then resurrected on other networks (e.g. Taxi moving from ABC to NBC, Buffy moving from The WB to UPN, etc.) do the cast and crew get to renegotiate their contracts? Or are they still bound by the original contracts?
Usually they are, which brings up a big issue for the production company. When a show switches networks, often times the new network won’t give as great a license fee as the previous network. They know they have the studio over a barrel. So the studio, bound by contracts, might have to pony up more of their money to keep the show afloat. But the studio benefits by the additional number of episodes, especially if it is close to reaching a hundred – the magic number for syndication. So it might be worth it for the studio to pay more for the production of twenty-two episodes to complete a package of a hundred that they could sell into syndication.
What I don’t know is this: there may be some language in contracts that says if the show switches networks the production company has the option of voiding it. This could be important because the new network might only agree to pick up the show if there are some changes made.
If you’ve ever seen a studio contract – for anything -- it could be a standard writer’s contract for one episode – it’s long and way complicated. Good entertainment attorneys will routinely black out tons of passages and add a plethora of riders. So an actor’s contract must be incredibly complicated.
I personally am all for the trend of shows switching networks. How many good shows were cancelled too soon? How many were dumped into bad time slots where they had no chance to succeed? When another network picks up an existing show it gets the benefit of a built-in audience (albeit small otherwise it wouldn’t have been cancelled in the first place). And different networks have different expectations. A 1 share on CBS is a bomb while a 1 share on TV LAND is a hit. I guess what I’m saying is… BIG WAVE DAVE’S is still available!