Created by Aaron Sorkin
Country of origin United States
First episode date 18 September 2006
Program creator Aaron Sorkin
Composer(s) W. G. Snuffy Walden
Original language(s) English
|Starring Matthew Perry
D. L. Hughley
Cast Matthew Perry, Amanda Peet, Sarah Paulson, Bradley Whitford, Steven Weber
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip is an American comedy-drama television series created and primarily written by Aaron Sorkin.
- Studio 60 on the sunset strip race and comedy
- Cast and crew
- Major roles
- Secondary roles
- Guest appearances
- Main crew
- Influences on the show
- Similarities to 30 Rock
- Critical and public reaction
- US scheduling
- After cancellation
- US ratings
- Seasonal ratings
- DVR ratings
- Alternative availability
- Early release
- DVD release
The series takes place behind the scenes of a live sketch comedy show (also called Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip or Studio 60) on the fictional television network NBS (National Broadcasting System), whose format is similar to that of NBC's Saturday Night Live. National Broadcasting System is owned by the TMG Corporation. The show-within-a-show is run by executive producers Matt Albie (Matthew Perry) and Danny Tripp (Bradley Whitford). Matt serves as the head writer and Danny produces the show.
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip ran on NBC for 22 episodes, from September 18, 2006 to June 28, 2007. It is Aaron Sorkin's only TV show not to air for more than one season.
Studio 60 on the sunset strip race and comedy
Cast and crew
Studio 60 features an ensemble cast portraying the personnel involved in the production of a late-night comedy show.
Key crew members include Aaron Sorkin (Head writer/Show runner), Thomas Schlamme (Show runner/Director (four episodes), and Timothy Busfield (Director - six episodes/ Consultant- 20 episodes). The crew includes several people who worked with Sorkin and Schlamme on their previous shows (Sports Night and The West Wing). Bradley Whitford, Timothy Busfield, John Goodman, Evan Handler, Matthew Perry, Michael Hyatt and Diana-Maria Riva all have a history with The West Wing. Busfield also directed two episodes of Sports Night. The show's first guest host (appearing as herself) is Felicity Huffman, who starred in Sports Night and did a guest spot on The West Wing. Cast member Mark McKinney wrote an episode of Sports Night. The character Andy Mackinaw (played by Mark McKinney, 10 episodes) is loosely based on the real life Studio 60 writer T. Rafael Cimino, whose work appeared in 19 episodes. He is the nephew of famed director, Michael Cimino.
Notable crew members include:
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip was tentatively titled Studio 7 on the Sunset Strip during its development stage.
The series prompted NBC and CBS to engage in an intense bidding war for the rights to the show in October 2005, with NBC agreeing to a "near-record license fee" in order to obtain the rights. It was the show most anticipated by media buyers prior to the network upfront presentations, according to MediaLife. Among the online public the show was also highly anticipated, receiving the most online "mentions" and the most positive sentiment of any new 2006 show.
Influences on the show
Sorkin drew from his own experience as a writer in creating the characters. The Harriet/Matt relationship was based on Sorkin's relationship with Kristin Chenoweth, who played Annabeth Schott on The West Wing. In Studio 60’s pilot, one of the reasons that Matt and Harriet broke up was Harriet's decision to appear on The 700 Club to support her Christian music album. In 2005, Chenoweth made a similar appearance on The 700 Club, sparking a negative reaction from some of her gay fans because of the views of 700 Club host Pat Robertson. Unlike Matt and Harriet, Sorkin and Chenoweth did not work together on The West Wing. Sorkin left after The West Wing's fourth season and Chenoweth joined the cast during season six.
The Jordan McDeere character was loosely based on former ABC Entertainment President Jamie Tarses, who was a consultant on the show.
The conflict between NBS and the Federal Communications Commission regarding uncensored language of American soldiers in Afghanistan parallels the decision by a small number of PBS affiliates to air the documentary Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience in full, despite potentially hefty FCC fines for unedited obscenities used by American soldiers describing their experiences in Iraq.
Similarities to 30 Rock
Two shows debuting on 2006–07 NBC lineup, 30 Rock and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, revolved around the off-camera happenings on a Saturday Night Live-analogue sketch comedy series. Similarities between the two led to speculation that only one of them would be picked up. 30 Rock co-star Alec Baldwin said, "I'd be stunned if NBC picked up both shows. And ours has the tougher task, as a comedy, because, if it's not funny, that's it." Kevin Reilly, then president of NBC Entertainment, was supportive of 30 Rock creator, writer, producer and star Tina Fey, describing the situation as a "high-class problem":
I just can't imagine the audience would look at both shows, choose one and cancel the other out. In some ways, why is it any different than when there have been three or four cop shows on any schedule, or Scrubs and ER, which are tonally very different?
Evidence of the overlapping subject matter between the shows, as well as the conflict between them, arose when Aaron Sorkin asked Lorne Michaels to allow him to observe Saturday Night Live for a week, a request Michaels denied. Despite this, Sorkin sent Fey flowers after NBC announced it would pick up both series, and wished her luck with 30 Rock. Fey said that "it's just bad luck for me that in my first attempt at prime time I'm going up against the most powerful writer on television. I was joking that this would be the best pilot ever aired on Trio. And then Trio got canceled."
Although 30 Rock’s first-season ratings proved lackluster and were lower than those of Studio 60, Studio 60 was more expensive to produce. Studio 60 was canceled after one season while 30 Rock was renewed, and would ultimately last for seven seasons and 138 episodes, the last of which aired during the 2012–13 season.
Studio 60 consists of a single season of 22 episodes. Its pilot episode was written by series creator Aaron Sorkin, and directed by executive producer Thomas Schlamme. Sorkin wrote or co-wrote all of the episodes. Schlamme directed four episodes, a total exceeded only by Timothy Busfield, who directed five episodes and co-directed a sixth.
The series includes two two-part episodes ("Nevada Day" and "The Harriet Dinner") and a story arc called "K & R" (kidnap & ransom) which spanned three episodes and concluded in a fourth, the final episode of the season.
Critical and public reaction
Television critics named Studio 60 their "Best Overall New Program" in a poll conducted by Broadcasting and Cable, based on the pilot episode. In their 2006 year-end issue, the New York Daily News listed Studio 60 as number 6 on their best "Series of the Year" list, and it was also listed in best standout performances as number 9 for Matthew Perry. Glenn Garvin of the Miami Herald named Studio 60 as number 2 on his list of best "Series of the Year." Studio 60 earned a collective rating of 75 out of 100 based on 33 reviews by TV critics and received 8.2 out of 10 from 276 votes by users on Metacritic.
The pilot was seen by an average of 13.4 million total viewers in its initial airing on NBC, although it experienced significant viewer falloff from the first half-hour to the second half-hour, and the second episode's Nielsen ratings were down by 12% from the pilot. The erosion continued through episode 5, with a 43% viewer drop off from its premiere, but subsequently leveled off.
On October 27, 2006, NBC gave a conditional "vote of confidence" by ordering three additional scripts on top of the initial order of 13. Despite the order, Studio 60 performed poorly in the ratings, which led to speculation that the network was seriously considering canceling the show.
Roger Friedman of Fox News reported on October 30, 2006, that cancellation of the show was imminent. This was denied the next day by an NBC representative who stated that the show "is profitable at this point" and that rather than a cancellation, it is more likely that the show's time slot will change.
On November 9, 2006, NBC announced that the show had been picked up for a full season, citing its favorable demographics as the reason. According to NBC's press release: "Studio 60 has consistently delivered some of the highest audience concentrations among all primetime network series in such key upscale categories as adults 18-49 living in homes with $75,000-plus and $100,000-plus incomes and in homes where the head of household has four or more years of college."
In its December 17, 2006, issue, Time listed Studio 60 as one of "5 Things That Went From Buzz to Bust", sharing the distinction with other "phenomena that captivated the media for a spell, then turned out to be less than huge." Entertainment Weekly named Studio 60 the worst TV show of 2006. Comedy writers at the time were largely disdainful of Studio 60, with comments like "People in television, trust me, are not that smart", "[Sorkin] wants to get big ideas across and change people's minds. No comedians work that way. They go for the laughs first and the lesson second", and "[Saturday Night Live] is so dark, they could never show what actually happens there."
On July 19, 2007, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences announced their nominations for the 2007 Primetime Emmy Awards. Studio 60 was nominated in five categories. The pilot episode earned three nominations: Outstanding Directing (Thomas Schlamme), Outstanding Cinematography For A Single-camera Series, and Outstanding Casting in Dramatic Series. Both John Goodman and Eli Wallach were nominated Outstanding Guest Actor in Dramatic Series. Studio 60 Emmy nominations surpassed several other shows, such as Friday Night Lights and Dexter, which got two and three, respectively. The show also tied with CSI and 24.
On December 2, 2006, NBC announced that Studio 60 would be sharing the Monday at 10 p.m. timeslot with The Black Donnellys; as a result, Studio 60 was on hiatus from December 4, 2006 to January 22, 2007. It then ran non-stop until February 26, 2007, when it was scheduled to take another hiatus.
On February 13, 2007, NBC announced that Studio 60 would go on hiatus one week early, and that the last episode would air on February 19, 2007. This was at least partially due to the show's delivering its lowest ratings to date on the Monday preceding the announcement.
During the hiatus on NBC, The Black Donnellys (premiered February 26), Thank God You're Here (premiered April 9), The Real Wedding Crashers (premiered April 23, after Thank God You're Here moved to Wednesdays), and Law and Order: Criminal Intent (aired its last two episodes of the season starting May 14) occupied the Monday 10 p.m. time period.
On April 2, 2007, NBC announced that Studio 60 would not reclaim its Monday at 10 p.m. time slot at the conclusion of The Black Donnellys run and that The Real Wedding Crashers, a reality show based on the popular movie, would occupy the timeslot from April 23, 2007, through the end of the TV season. However, on April 26, NBC announced that Studio 60 would return from its hiatus on Thursday, May 24, at 10:00 p.m.
Studio 60 was canceled on May 11, 2007 during the NBC upfront presentation.
In a 2011 reference to the cancelled Studio 60, Aaron Sorkin appeared in "Plan B", a fifth season episode of 30 Rock; he played himself, depicted as looking for work alongside an also-struggling Liz Lemon. He refers to his achievements, such as The West Wing and The Social Network, but when Liz Lemon mentions Studio 60, he quickly replies, "Shut up!" During the March 2012 promotion of Bent, an NBC romantic comedy series starring Amanda Peet, Peet commented on what the issue was with Studio 60, saying it was "too expensive and there was too much anticipation. I guess all together we seemed like this arrogant monolith, but individually, none of us felt very arrogant."
Weekly rankings based on Fast National ratings.
Key: Rating is the estimated percentage of all TVs tuned to the show, share is the percentage of all TVs in use that are tuned in. Viewers is the estimated number of actual people watching, in millions, while ranking is the approximate ranking of the show against all prime-time TV shows for the week (Monday through the following Sunday).
While the show premiered with high ratings, there was a large drop during the second half. This trend continued through nearly every episode of the show.
Seasonal rankings (based on average total viewers per episode) of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip on NBC:
Note: Each U.S. network television season starts in late September and ends in late May, which coincides with the completion of May sweeps.
On December 29, 2006, Nielsen Media Research reported the results of having, for the first time, monitored viewers who use a Digital Video Recorder to pre-record shows for later viewing. According to the Nielsen numbers, adding these viewers increased Studio 60's ratings the most in percentage terms of all network shows. These ratings, called "live plus seven", include all viewers who use a DVR to record the show and then watch it within a week of its initial airing.
According to Nielsen, Studio 60 added nearly 11%, or almost a million viewers, to its total every week as a result of these "live plus seven" viewers.
According to Medialife Magazine, "The live-plus-seven-day rating for NBC’s "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" is 136% higher than its live rating in DVR homes."
Studio 60 was one of a group of NBC shows during its season, some new and some returning, which was available on one or both of NBC's online forums for alternative distribution of television: free with commercials on NBC.com and hulu.com, and for pay download without commercials at Amazon.com and the iTunes Store. Studio 60 was also added as a download option via the Xbox 360 video download service. There is no published record of its popularity at the NBC website or on the Xbox, but several Studio 60 episodes have been among the ten most popular on iTunes. The Studio 60 season pass has also steadily remained in the Top 20 since it was made available. The first nine episodes of Studio 60 were also made available on the launch of Xbox Live Media Downloads in fall of 2006, and the service continues to offer the new episodes weekly (3–4 days after the airdate). All episodes of the program have also been made available on CTV's online broadband network. Episodes are currently being added to the Channel 4's 4oD, a broadband on-demand service, in the UK, as the episodes are broadcast on More 4.
NBC made the pilot episode of Studio 60 available on DVD to Netflix subscribers on August 5, 2006. The DVD also includes the pilot episode for Kidnapped, another show which aired on NBC in the fall and also got canceled. AOL also premiered the first episode of Studio 60 in its entirety on its online television channel.
The pilot episode was screened to the general public for the first time at the 31st MediaGuardian Edinburgh International Television Festival, a British industry and media event held annually over the August bank holiday weekend (25–27 August 2006). The pilot episode was screened outdoors on a "giant billboard style screen" in Conference Square, next to the Edinburgh International Conference Centre.
On June 27, 2007, the day before the airing of the show's final episode, Warner Home Video announced an October 16 release date for the Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip: Complete Series DVD set.