May 29, 2006

Maybe I shouldn't be proud of this

Remote_GirlBTN.jpgA few weeks ago, I started seeing ads for this new Adam Sandler movie Click. The tagline is "What if you had a universal remote... that controlled your universe?"

No question, that's a great high concept. At least, I thought it was thirteen years ago when I pitched it to MTV. Yep, back in 1993, my Spy colleague Brian Jacobsmeyer and I came up with three sitcom ideas for MTV, including this one:

CHANNEL SURFERS Situation: A gang of high-school-age kids discover a magical remote control that works on the real world. With it they can make life change channels, pause, rewind, fast forward, etc. Naturally, their attempts to use the remote to solve problems almost always backfire. When the remote is used to change channels, they wind up briefly on other stations, in shows and commercials that are parodies of real shows past and present. Comedy: Self-aware. Over-the-top. Moves at the speed suggested by the title. The show is virtually a spoof of every other magical/comedy/adventure show from I Dream of Jeanie to The Greatest American Hero, although it is also funny on its own terms. Features a great deal of Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker type jokes, but also supports a strong comic premise each episode. Starring: A typical group of kids, not always good friends, but bound by their possession of the Universal Remote. Also: A typical assortment of teachers, parents, love interests and troublemakers, as well as the occasional mad scientist or government agent out to steal the remote.

The exec we pitched it to loved it, and she asked us to come back the next week to present it to her boss. But while Brian and I were fleshing it out, we panicked. How many episodes can we sustain this one gimmick, we thought? So we did something incredibly dumb: we chucked out the high concept and wrote a new pitch for a show based on the one element of the first version that we thought was actually pretty clever, the channel changing. Our revised version would take a single storyline for each episode and show how it would play out as a sitcom *click* as a cop show *click* as a talk show *click* and so on. It would be all parody and dizzyingly fast-paced, which was what the kids liked back then.

Needless to say, the exec was dismayed when we showed up in front of her boss with something other than what he'd been led to expect. "Why did you change it?" she asked. "Well," we explained, "we just realized, you know, how many times can they fast forward through a boring class, or rewind a date?"

"How many times can they try to get off the island?" she replied.

Brian and I convinced ourselves that it was for the best. We wanted to do something better than a Gen-X Gilligan's Island. Sure, if they'd said, "Let's go back to the first version," we would have done it, but the magic spell was broken. Still, we had an in with the network, and later Brian and I would go on to almost get hired for a talk show they were developing. This time the producers flipped for us (the words "I can't promise anything, but clean out your desks" were spoken), but we didn't click with the host — some guy named Jon something. After that, Brian realized I was dead weight and went solo. He landed at Politically Incorrect and is still writing for Bill Maher, as far as I know.

But I have a blog.

Posted by Daniel Radosh


The universal remote gag was done very well in "Ian Shoales Perfect World" (scroll down towards the bottom of this page). Not that many probably haven't thought of it, but I'm only pimping because I think it is one of funniest things I've ever read (I'm not usually an NPR humor type)

The all-powerful remote control was done in 1992's almost-forgetable "Stay Tuned" where John Ritter gets sucked into a television set and put through a variety of tortuous parodies of different genres.

The basic idea for Click -- not the story you outline, which has rather more to it, but just the idea of being able to stop time with a hand-held device -- goes back at least to John D. MacDonald's 1962 novel The Girl, the Gold Watch, and Everything, which was made into a 1980 TV movie starring Robert Hays and Pam Dawber (really).

You know, I read and loved the Ian Sholes book and I think I saw Girl, Gold Watch, too. I definitely saw the Twilight Zone episode along the same lines. Yet I was conscious of none of these when we wrote the pitch. Maybe I Opal Mehta'd them.

I've never heard of Stay Tuned, although it was out a mere year before this, and it sounds almost exactly like the revised version of channel surfers. Maybe if it had done better, we would have sold the show.

Someone sent me an email saying "I can't believe they're making a movie of "The Fermata".

I just hope Adam Sandler doesn't stop time so he can give facials to pretty ladies.

I don't know which is more pathetic, that when the Fermata came out, I thought it sounded like a pretty cool idea, or that now, if I had that power, I'd use it to take afternoon naps.

Yeah, when I read that revised pitch description, I thought, wasn't there a movie like that? But I couldn't quite place it. It was, indeed, "Stay Tuned."

There was also a game show about remote controls. I think Sandler was on it, even. He's super-funny.

Oh, God ... "The Fermata."

I was the proofreader on that book, and it came with, hands down, the funniest style sheet in the history of mankind. The author was very particular in his use of obscenities.

Hmm. I wonder if I still have it in a desk drawer somewhere.

As a proofreader, I would be interested in seeing the style sheet to "The Fermata" I have never heard of it, but it sounds interesting. If Velvet Blog finds it, could he/she let me know and maybe send me a copy?

Listen, you lame, could-have, would-have, loser.

The movie shares some cursory details with your idea from over a decade ago. But it's so much better and so much funnier that people actually decided to back it, to write it, and to make it into a movie which may or may not suck, jury's still out on that one.

Stop dreaming about all the things you could have done. Get over yourself and get a life.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Anyone who wastes time commenting on a stranger's blog forfeits the right to tell anyone else to get a life.

I shall serenade to E. Lawrence so that he'll chill out.

I am breathless
Need I say
How could you find me here
You, of all have crossed my way
Unexpectedly...from where
I feel like I am dreaming
Hold me close
Tomorrow may be gone

This is a moment
Of belief
This is a moment
Made of dreams
You found me here today
On the coldest winter night
This moment is our right

Now, E. Lawrence tell me all
The years we've been apart...
Did you hear the mountain fall
...my broken heart
Don't wake me if I'm dreaming
Hush, my dear
Because tomorrow may be gone

This is the moment
Not before
This is the moment
Say no more
You found me here today
On the coldest winter night
This moment is our right

Kamelot rules.

Hey, douchetard. Did he accuse Click of stealing his idea? No. Did he claim that Click did anything more than share some cursory details with his idea from over a decade ago? No. So shut your runny pie hole and quit wagging your e-peen at people who don't give a single toss what you think.

Post a comment

Powered by
Movable Type 3.2