Got to the Marriott JUST IN TIME for the 10 am "No More Now and Again?" panel. We almost missed the turn, but I was lucky enough to spot the Light Rail as a landmark. I got my con badge at 10 and booked it for the parlor. There were about 12 people in there total, and as we started to discuss the show and why it captured so many people's hearts, I found out that a LOT of people had no idea the show was cancelled. CBS faked everyone out by touting the show as a hit and then yanking it. Someone came in and let us know that Gerrit Graham had heard about the panel and was coming to join us. I dug that TV Guide out of my bag as fast as I could. :)
He showed up around 10:20, and we had about half an hour to actually talk to him, most notably about why N&A was dropped. The story he'd heard was a new one that didn't even take "City of Angels" into account; he pointed to the Viacom/CBS/Paramount deal.
Cancelling the show was bad business, he said, but it wasn't about numbers. It was about network execs' tendency to cover their own asses and advance their positions at the expense of others. The prevailing story is that Les Moonves was trying to oust the head of Paramount TV and put "his guy" in that position. GG pointed out that except for JAG (and Nash Bridges, which he forgot to mention), all of Paramount's CBS shows were cancelled this year. He also noted that almost EVERY media outlet that seriously commented on the fall schedule said N&A's cancellation was a really stupid move, and that they're right. To (mis)quote GG, nothing is run worse than network television except maybe the government, and the government isn't about to make a substantial profit. He also said that if, say, a pizza business was run this way, it'd be out of business in a week. The whole thing was about individual execs looking out for themselves, not whether or not it was good for business.
He also said that the cast really wanted to continue. Part of Margaret Colin's CBS contract included a movie-of-the-week, and she tried to look into that to see if that couldn't be used for at least a two-hour movie conclusion. But it didn't seem to pan out. As for Paramount, his remarks confirmed that they pushed for the show. GGC was negotiating with CBS. He was willing to cut corners, lower the budget, and change a few things to pacify them - but he was firm that the show had to be filmed in NYC. While he was dealing with CBS, Paramount WAS shopping the show to other nets. CBS was their best bet mainly because N&A is jointly owned by CBS and Paramount. When that fateful meeting with CBS occurred on June 15th, CBS advised the production company to strike the sets.
I did manage to get in one question before the 11 am panel kicked us out - I asked him if he had an opinion on where our efforts should be concentrated. GG said he was really guessing, but that CBS is still worth a shot because they partly own the show - that it's really up to the mail-in campaign to get the show aired somewhere. Sci-Fi is problematic because of money and having to go to CBS and Paramount to get the rights, but at least they're interested. A lot of execs liked N&A, he said; infighting with CBS and Paramount was mainly responsible. And targeting Paramount might not work in the event that there's any turnover going on there like some execs apparently wanted.
He was nice enough to sign my TV Guide before we were all herded out of the room. I didn't ask for a picture because of the traffic and because I was feeling light-headed and needed to get something to drink. (I missed breakfast.) Which is why I was a little erratically jumpy, a fact that I think was a bit too obvious given the worried look GG gave me - the kind of look you give someone who doesn't look like they're feeling all that well. I handed out postcards to the folks that were there.
Anyway, spent an hour cruising the dealer room - noticed some nice glossy N&A photos, but didn't pick them up because I only had ten bucks on me - then sat down and made sure ALL my 40 postcards were addressed to either CBS or Sci-Fi. Got a drink and went to the Stargate SG-1 panel.
I'm mentioning the SG-1 panel because it did bring up some things that I considered relevant. First, the fact that that series was guaranteed two seasons from the get-go, giving them the chance to develop ongoing plot lines (a luxury I wish N&A could have had). Second, it was mentioned that "The Outer Limits," SG-1's companion on "Sci-Friday" was ending this year, and there was no news on what, if anything, would replace it. I thought about N&A, but then realized I probably might not be awake enough at 11 pm. Besides, Showtime has four other original series running right now.
I went to his 1 pm talk in the ballroom, and a lot of the same questions were brought up there: the cancellation, why it happened, how it happened, et cetera. He had a few more things to say, though - as he put it to the crowd, "Viacom is synonymous with the Borg Collective." That had everyone rolling. Lots of people booed when the con staffer announcing him mentioned that N&A was cancelled (a good sign). He seemed extremely passionate about "Now and Again," and when someone asked him about that, he said that he absolutely loved doing the show. He hadn't worked with such an excellent bunch of people and had such clever scripts. He called the show "an actor's dream," and noted that GGC had his undying loyalty because Caron bypassed the live "network tests" completely when he was cast. And he would jump at the chance to continue to work on the show.
(Gerrit did rail a bit about "reality" TV and the game-show trend, and all of it was justifiable. He pointed out that EVERYONE was hurt by what he termed "Who Wants to be a Greedy Son-of-a-Bitch." That comment got a LOT of laughter.)
Someone asked about what we might have seen if N&A had been allowed to continue. While he didn't know exactly what GGC was planning, Gerrit's theory was that to resolve the cliffhanger, Roger would have had to have been brought into the fold somehow. Either Morris would have used him to try to catch Michael, or Michael would have let him in on something to keep Lisa and Heather safe. His reasoning was that Roger is such a gullible character, he could be intimidated or manipulated into going along with either side. He also said that it was doubtful that Ruth would have ever appeared; GGC apparently liked the joke of the invisible wife too much. (And this may be incorrect due to my bad memory, but I think he said that while Christine Baranski did Ruth's voice, the body in bed next to Roger in "Fire and Ice" was actually the wife of one of the executive producers. Don't quote me on that, though, my memory's fuzzy there.) As for why they never tried it on another night, Glenn Gordon Caron apparently pushed like hell for that - and never got any results. The only reason they showed a special repeat of "The Insurance Man Always Rings Twice" on Dec. 28th was because of the TV Guide article. CBS had scheduled one episode for the entire month of December, and the fact that there weren't even repeats airing the month the TV Guide came out was ridiculous. GGC got on the phone and started getting on people's cases - that was why that special airing occurred in the first place.
As for when the cancellation might have been decided... he said Moonves was sucking up to them even in March, when Dennis and Eric went to the NCAA tournament. But that might not have meant anything. Up until the weekend before the schedules came out, though, the general feeling was that they would get picked up. The fake-out schedule CBS "leaked" over the weekend, which had N&A on the dead-zone of Saturdays, was their first real clue that they were really in trouble.
The NAACP was brought up, and GG was just a bit frustrated that Dennis' contribution wasn't hyped at all until late in the year, especially since Dr. Morris was one of the most intelligent and intriguing characters on TV this season.
When asked about the cast, he noted that Heather Matarazzo was a lot like her character, and quoted her as well - at the end of the day, when everyone was going "good job," her response was "I sucked." (That would be me, too, so I don't consider that to be a disparaging remark.)
He also noted that most of the cast was still in the NYC area; GG, MC, and HM all live in the area already, and EC and his family are still in New York. As for DH, however, he didn't know. The show's location was the one thing GGC wouldn't change when trying to negotiate with CBS. I did ask about the cast's availability if Sci-Fi or someone else picked it up, and he said that it depends on how long it takes - no one can sit around and wait, although he admitted that he hasn't done much of anything since the cancellation.
I was up at the mike for the last question and shamelessly plugged the campaign and the fact that I had a stack of postcards with me. Unfortunately, the panel ran long, and by the time it was over my ride was supposed to be there. After giving some postcards to the few people who left, I realized that since Claudia Christian was the next to speak, there wouldn't be much of an exiting herd to shill postcards to. I handed off the postcards (and the URL of the N&A campaign site) to Wayne Hall, one of the con staffers who moderated the N&A and the Stargate panels. He promised to hand them out at the other panels he was moderating.
At that point, I hurried upstairs and waited for my ride to show up... but not before I grabbed a snack. :)