Rob Thomas on Party Down
My friend Liz Shannon Miller had a terrific post about how you should watch Party Down right now. It reminded me of a story series creator Rob Thomas told at a TV writers’ panel in the back room of Meltdown Comics several years ago.
Those panels always tended to be a little heavy with industry talk (how the series was pitched, how the deals were made) and a little light on the discussion of the actual writing; that’s Hollywood. But the story of the Party Down pitch was really great. I am going to try to do it justice. (I wish I could remember what he said verbatim!)
Thomas recounted that when he and series co-creator John Enbom were in discussions with Starz about Party Down, the co-creators wanted to be very clear that this was going to be a show about failure. These characters want things very badly, and, Thomas and Enbom wanted to underscore, they are not going to get them. He tried to caution the network that this was going to be one bleak comedy.
Thomas said the network’s only response was: “that’s fine, can there be nudity? This is cable, so we need for there to be nudity.” So they planned an episode about the adult video awards, and, bam, they were greenlit.
He also told the story of how Veronica Mars got made: Thomas said he had written the Mars pilot on spec and stashed it in a drawer. When he was pitching some other ideas to the network, they asked whether he had any projects featuring teenagers (this was in the wake of some big successful primetime soap with teens– The O.C., probably?), so he submitted the pilot. The network loved it, but they wondered if it could be re-written without the rape (which is a plot point on which the first season turns). Thomas said it could not, and so the network shrugged and produced it as-is; the rest is Kickstarter history.
If you have not seen Party Down, you really are missing out, and the first five episodes are free right now on Hulu.