On the latest edition of KCRW's The Spin-Off, Joe and I are joined by retiring scheduling guru Preston Beckman, who crafted the network strategy at NBC during the height of "Must See TV," and then again at Fox as it rode the "American Idol" wave:
By the mid 90's, NBC was on top. They had a Thursday night lineup that included Seinfeld, Friends, and ER. Beckman tells us how he knew Seinfeld was something special and why scheduling at the networks in the late 90's became something like pro-wrestling, with lots of big talk and even bigger egos.
He also reflects on less successful lineups, like in 1997 when NBC had 18 comedies on the schedule. While that may seem crazy now, he walks us through the thinking at the time.
When Beckman moved to Fox in 2000, it was right at the start of the reality revolution, and he was ready to embrace it. He says no one quite knew what to do with American Idol when they first got it, but Beckman came up with the idea to put a results show on an entirely separate night.
As for as shows he's encountered over the years he wishes he could have saved, those include I'll Fly Away, Grounded for Life, and yes, Firefly.