General News

Will reality kill drama?

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Aug 10, 2001 | 1:38pm EDT

Warren Littlefield, who headed NBC Entertainment from 1990-98, has expressed consternation over the public's fascination with reality programming, saying that it may "get us closer to the extinction of quality drama" on TV. In an interview with Thursday's Washington Post, Littlefield noted that reruns of dramatic shows in particular have been hard hit this summer by the popularity of reality shows. Pointing out that television's "economic model" is two runs of each show per year, Littlefield stated: "If the second run is a complete loss, the system doesn't work. Loss-leaders really don't work at the broadcast networks." Moreover, he noted, the risks involved in mounting a new drama are far greater than those for a reality show. "Virtually everything the networks have thrown up there in the reality format has worked," he noted. (The Post also noted that it costs NBC $13 million for each episode of E.R. but only $500,000 for The Weakest Link.)

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