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In this comedy about the making of a television pilot, writer/director Jake Kasdan serves up an intelligent mixture of first-hand insight and laugh-out-loud comedy. Series creator Mike Klein has finally sold a television pilot. Now he must navigate his show through the mine-laden path from casting through production to the madness of prime-time scheduling and the network "upfronts." Along the way he has to juggle the demands of network executives, volatile young stars, a pregnant wife, and a personal manager of suspect loyalties, all while trying to stay true to his vision. But this is the television business, and there's really only one true agenda: the one that leads to ratings and advertising dollars. Mining his own experiences working in television, Kasdan deftly blends his behind-the-scenes experience with biting humor. The cast hits every comic mark, no matter how subtle or how broad. David Duchovny gives a deeply nuanced performance as Mike, and his reactions are pitch-perfect. Sigourney Weaver flexes her comic muscles as the headstrong network president with a lot of "thoughts" about what the show needs to be a success. And her second-in-command-a British import (Ioan Gruffudd) in his rookie TV season stateside-is caught between the gut instincts that got him hired and the compromises he must make to succeed in his new job. As Mike's wife, Justine Bateman keeps her husband grounded, while Judy Greer shakes things up as his manager. With Kasdan's witty script and impeccably paced direction, The TV Set shows that there is as much entertainment behind the camera as there is in front.
Director's Statement Collapse
I started writing The TV Set on November 4, 2004, two days after the U.S. presidential election. Like a lot of other people (49% of the people), I was in the midst of a minor existential depression that week, trying to make sense of what had just happened. I was thinking about the campaign, and how complex ideas and people get simplified and reduced in the process of making them palatable to absolutely everyone. I was thinking about focus groups, about compromise, and about how good people make bad decisions. It was a familiar feeling. It reminded me of pilot season. This movie, "the pilot season movie," was an idea I had been thinking about for a while. But it wasn't until the Thursday after that Tuesday that I felt moved to write it. I've been fortunate to have had great experiences making television shows. And I've had other experiences too. I've also watched and sympathized as several of my friends had their own experiences with TV pilots. One friend, who was in the midst of making a pilot at the time, told me she didn't want to read the script because she feared that it would be like finding out how and when she was going to die. You spend a little bit of time in this world and you quickly start to realize that the things that happen tend to happen repeatedly. It's a similar drama every time, with similar conflicts. And yet, if this is your life, if it's the only thing you're good at, you go back and do it again the next year. Similar to the way that women have to partially forget the excruciating pain of childbirth so that they might do it again and ensure the survival of humanity, so goes the television writer back into those same offices, pitching another idea for another pilot, so as to ensure the survival of network television. And though it doesn't get much easier, it ceases to feel like such high drama. It feels more like comedy. The movie is populated by fictional people, making a fictional pilot. Everything they say and do is made up. The rest, I'm afraid, is all real.
Film Information Collapse
[TVSET] | 2006 | 87 | Narrative Feature
Directed by: Jake Kasdan and Ishai Setton
Foreign Title: (The TV Set)
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About the Director(s)Collapse
Jake Kasdan made his feature debut as writer and director of Zero Effect, starring Bill Pullman and Ben Stiller, in 1998. The following year, Kasdan directed the pilot for the short-lived, highly acclaimed television series Freaks and Geeks. Created by Paul Feig, Freaks and Geeks also marked Kasdan's first collaboration with executive producer Judd Apatow. Kasdan served as a consulting producer through the run of the series and directed several episodes. Next, Kasdan directed his second television pilot for another short-lived Apatow-produced series, Undeclared. In 2002, Kasdan directed Orange County, starring Colin Hanks and Jack Black and written by Freaks and Geeks alum Mike White. The TV Set is Kasdan's third film. He lives and works in Los Angeles.