Recent discussion prompted me to begin assembly of a FAQ thread for this forum, but in trying to keep it simple, it ended up looking more like a dos and don'ts list. For example, "Don't open a thread asking for when Batman/Bruce Wayne will appear on the show." To any newbie, the question becomes "Why?" The answer is much more involved than, "He'll never appear on the show, so don't bother asking." Again the noob asks, "Why is that?" Oh dear. Not going anywhere for a while? LOL So I'm taking another approach, one which I think will be even better. Other than a few threads specific to certain details such as ratings, it appears that we do not have a thread devoted to discussion of SV as a show. For example: I heard there was a bidding war over SV, what was that about? Where'd the "no tights, no flights" rule come from? Who's this Dawn Ostroff chick everybody keeps talking about? And yes, why is Batman off limits? But this thread is more than that. It's a place to discuss the impact of SV and have one location where various interviews and articles can be posted for easy reference. In that way, it's kind of a SV facts thread, not just a SV FAQ thread. Okay, so lets get started... The following excerpts are from a book titled, "Season Finale: The Unexpected Rise and Fall of the WB and UPN," written by Susanne Daniels and Cynthia Littleton. I recommend it to anybody who's interested in the history of both networks and the shows they aired. Cast of Characters: Garth Ancier - The WB's entertainment president from 1994 to 1998; Ancier had filled the same role for Jamie Kellner a decade earlier at Fox. Susanne Daniels - A fledgling member of the WB's creative team, Daniels was a Fox recruit who headed the WB's program development before succeeding Ancier as the network's entertainment president. Bob Daly - The long-serving cochairman and CEO of Warner Bros. who saw that the studio needed its own broadcast network for its TV production operations to survive. Jamie Kellner - Founder, chairman, and CEO of the WB Network. A linchpin of the team that launched Fox in the 1980s, Kellner saw an opening for a fifth network and was driven to prove he could do it again with the WB. Jordan Levin - The right-hand man to Ancier and Daniels whose youthful sensibilities greatly informed the WB's most successful shows. Levin would rise to succeed Daniels as head of programming and serve briefly as the WB's CEO. Barry Meyer - Daly's veteran lieutenant and ultimate successor at Warner Bros., whose long friendship with Jamie Kellner paved the way for the WB venture. Leslie Moonves - The charismatic TV executive who led the turnaround of CBS in the mid-1990s and later assumed oversight of UPN from Kerry McCluggage (Paramount/UPN). Dawn Ostroff - The smart, ambitious programming executive who ran UPN under the direction of CBS's Leslie Moonves for the last four and a half years of UPN's existence. Sumner Redstone - The chairman of Viacom who inherited the plan to launch UPN when his company bought Paramount Pictures in 1994. Peter Roth - The former 20th Century Fox Television executive, who became the Warner Bros.' Television president and brought harmony to the WB's relations with its sister studio. Aaron Spelling - The legendary producer whose work involvement with the WB early on gave the network respectability in Hollywood and its first hit, Savannah. Ted Turner - The major Time Warner shareholder who tried to convince the company's board of directors to shut down the WB and use resources devoted to it for buying an established network or investing in better programming for Turner's TNT and TBS channels. Joss Whedon - The creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the distinctive drama that pointed the WB toward the young audience that would become its trademark. Birth of an idea: Though the slew of industry-realigning acquisitions and mergers dominated the headlines and lunch conversations of nearly everyone in Hollywood, we couldn't let it distract us from our primary job of finding quality programming for the WB. Early in the summer, I ran into Peter Roth at the Warner Bros.' commissary. As always, Peter was buoyant and excited about the next big thing his staff was cooking up for us. He took his time telling me how they were developing the perfect property for the network and its Buffy the Vampire Slayer action-fantasy-loving demographic. "So what is it?!" I said, curious. I felt totally conformable with Peter. I didn't have to make any pretense toward niceties. My lunch was getting cold while he launched into his pitch. "Superman... young Superman," Roth said. "It's Clark Kent in high school in his hometown of Smallville, just as he's realizing he has superpowers. Don't you think it's perfect?" "Superman!" I replied incredulously. "Super-man! Don't you think Superman is over, Peter? Really? Can Superman possibly be hip again?" Within a few weeks, I was eating my words. Why Smallville wasn't Gotham instead: Indeed, Smallville came to life in the summer of 2000 through a series of happy accidents. The show might never have happened if the Warner Bros.' film division hadn't been so protective of its Batman movie franchise. Shortly after Peter Roth joined Warner Bros. in early 1999, he got a call from Mike Tollin and Brian Robbins, a pair of prominent television producers who had an exclusive, and lucrative, contract with the studio. The duo rang to ask Roth for help in persuading his counterparts on the feature film side to ease their grip on the rights to Batman so that they could develop a TV series based on the caped crusader. The film division was the gatekeeper of the character, which Warner Bros. controlled through its ownership of DC Comics. Batman became an important movie franchise for the studio starting in 1989 with director Tim Burton's Batman, starring Michael Keaton. Ten years later, Batman's star had cooled considerably, as evidenced by the ho-hum box office performance and critical drubbing that greeted 1997's Batman & Robin, featuring George Clooney behind the mask. Tollin and Robbins wanted to do a TV series focusing on the formative years of the Bruce Wayne character as he came to realize his gifts and obligations as a protector of the innocent. As Roth spoke on the phone with the producers, he realized in an instant that here was a succinct, instantly marketable, genius idea that was perfect for the WB demo. Tollin and Robbins had made their names as highly efficient producers, writers, and directors of live-action programs for Nickelodeon (the sketch comedy All That, buddy, comedy Kenan and Kel) and modestly budgeted movies (Good Burger in 1997, Varsity Blues in 1999) that connected with younger audiences. They had the right sensibilities to freshen up a dormant but still valuable character franchise for Warner Bros. The film studio, nonetheless, was protective of its Batman properties. Executives there feared that a contemporary Batman TV series - even one far removed from the campy humor of the 1960s ABC series that starred Adam West and Burt Ward - would dilute the event nature of future Batman movies. After a while, Tollin and Robbins were ready to move on to other pursuits, but not Roth. The hunt for Batman reminded him of how much he loved superheroes, and how he could count on one hand the number of fantasy-action vehicles on the major broadcast networks at the time - one of them was Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Young Superman: Undaunted, Roth set his sights on a revival of another iconic character in the DC Comics stable: Superman. Roth loved the Man of Steel. He had tried to develop a cartoon series around the Superboy character when he worked in children's programming at ABC in the 1970s. Tollin and Robbins also saw the promise in Superman, who at the time had an even lower profile than Batman at the studio. Warner Bros. had been stymied for years in trying to find suitable successors to the string of mostly successful Superman films that starred Christopher Reeve in the late 1970s and 80s. The Man of Steel's most recent reappearance since then had been as a romantic-comedy hunk from 1993 to 1997 in ABC's moderately successful Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, featuring Dean Cain as Clark Kent and future Desperate Housewives star Teri Hatcher as Lois Lane. Miles Millar and Alfred Gough: Tollin and Robbins adapted the same conceptual framework they'd had for the young Bruce Wayne story line to the adventures of young Clark Kent. The first order of business, even before finding their star, was to recruit the perfect writer to flesh out their vision. Tollin and Robbins settled on the highly regarded writing team of Miles Millar and Alfred Gough, who were known as the time for their movie credits, including Lethal Weapon 4 and Jackie Chan's Shanghai Noon. Millar and Gough had delved into prime time during the 1999-2000 season with a short-lived action drama, The Strip, set in Las Vegas among casino security guards. The show happened to be produced by Warner Bros. Television for, of all networks, UPN. Millar and Gough proved perfect for the young Superman project. They had the comic-book sensibilities needed for the assignment, and they had the skill as writers to do justice to a beloved piece of Americana. And they were brave enough to try. If Smallville fizzled, the film studio's job would be twice as hard. No tights, no flights: Millar, Gough, Tollin and Robbins took their time working out the kinks - the story lines, the characters, the settings, and the tone for the pilot. They steadfastly adopted a "no tights, no flights" policy, refusing to depict Clark Kent in the traditional Superman imagery flying through the air in his blue tights and red cape. Smallville centered on Kent's emotional development as a young man, and one with incredible responsibility to bear. Executives at the DC Comics division were angry about those decisions at first. In their view, the TV studio was graciously granted access to the original superhero, and yet it was trying to downplay all of the elements that made him, well, super. Fox is interested: In time, the chatter in television industry circles about the project began to grow. Tollin and Robbins were hot producers at that moment and there was curiosity about what they saw in the Superman milieu. Roth was surprised at my lackluster reaction when we first discussed the project. So he turned his focus to selling the show to Fox, where newly appointed entertainment president Gail Berman, the same woman who had helped bring Buffy back to life as a TV show four years earlier, had a healthy appetite for fantasy-action fare. Berman liked what she heard and made a substantial commitment to Roth on the spot to snare the Smallville pilot. Berman's enthusiasm was music to Roth's ears because it gave him maximum leverage in bringing the formal series pitch to the WB, or any other prospective buyer for that matter. Pitch to WB: Although I'd briefly made my feelings known about what I thought of the prospects for a young-Superman show, I'd not heard a formal pitch from a writer. Luckily, Peter felt an obligation to allow us to hear it, now that the premise was far more developed and the studio had writers to ring it to life. On our end, we owed our studio colleagues the courtesy of taking the meeting. By this time, Carolyn Bernstein, the Columbia TriStar TV executive who'd worked on Dawson's Creek, had joined the WB as head of drama development. I still had low expectations as Carolyn and I sat down in WB's main conference room with Roth, Tollin, Robbins, Millar, and Gough. As Millar and Gough launched into their pitch, Carolyn and I were blown away. I had to apologize profusely, and sheepishly, to Peter for making such a snap judgment before. The pitch was captivating; it wasn't like any rendition of Superman we'd ever seen before. Miles and Al had thought through how to play it to avoid any whiff of cheesiness, and how to slowly unravel the Clark Kent story in a way that made a coming-of-age allegory that would resonate with our audience. The show would employ some but not all of the Superman mythos, and most of what was used was tweaked perfectly for the twenty-first century. Clark's best friend was a troubled fellow teenager named Lex Luthor who was outwardly charming but black-hearted on the inside. His primary love interest was a beautiful local girl named Lana Lang, not Lois Lane, and yet another close friend was the girl reporter for the high school newspaper, Chloe Sullivan. This Clark Kent wouldn't be caught dead in horn-rim glasses. Bidding war: During the meeting, Roth sat off to the side, listening patiently and quietly as we made an offer to commission a pilot at a fee that he knew was generous by the WB's usual standard. He let us gush about the show and its potential for a few minutes before he responded. "That's great. I'm glad you like it," he said without a hint of "I told you so" in his voice. But by his tone, we knew there was some complication. "Fox wants it too. They've offered us even more," Roth said with a sigh. We were taken aback. Smallville sounded like such a WB show. We didn't want to lose our reputation as the home of cutting edge youthful dramas. And the pitch we'd just heard was bulletproof. I quickly conferred with Jamie Kellner and recommended we match Fox's offer. Jamie sparked to it right away. So we came back to Roth with a rarefied 13-episode commitment - the highest compliment a network can pay a series concept in its germinal stage. That meant Warner Bros. Television had to make the difficult call to steer Smallville to the WB. All things being equal, Roth knew it in his bones that Smallville belonged on the WB. Although the show's ratings might be higher on Fox, it would have the longest life and receive the most TLC on the WB. That's what Roth surmised. He couldn't avoid taking some heat from Fox entertainment president Gail Berman, who was steamed about the situation for months afterward. Casting: Once the show settled at the WB, the highest priority was finding the next-generation Clark Kent. The Warner Bros.' casting department mounted a nationwide search. Our Clark had to have a lot of vulnerability. We wanted the proverbial fresh face. The young man who wound up carrying Smallville on his strapping shoulders was a former model from New York. On the resume pasted onto the back of his head shot, Tom Welling had only a handful of guest starring roles on CBS's drama Judging Amy, but it was clear to Miles and Al and us that he had the handsome, unassuming charm and macho strength of a young Christopher Reeve or Tom Selleck. Not unlike the girls of Savannah, Welling was cast as much for his muscular abdomen as for his acting chops, which improved markedly during the first few seasons. But he had enough skill, even during the pilot filming, to make a credible, conflicted Clark Kent, with the aid of a strong supporting cast that included a star from an earlier TV era, John Schneider of the Warner-Bros.-produced Dukes of Hazzard, and Michael Rosenbaum and Kristin Kreuk as Lex Luthor and Lana Lang. As we saw the group come together in preparation for the pilot, we were confident that our 13-episode commitment would prove to be a good bet. Pilot and ratings: On Wednesday, October 17, 2001, Peter Roth had a 6 a.m. phone call with Jordan Levin. The night before they had premiered the series Smallville, and the pair spoke to digest the overnight rating returns, which were very strong. It was barely a month after the September 11th terrorist attacks. Nerves were on edge. The WB had poured most of its fall season launch marketing budget into getting Smallville off in style. In the network's first season after Buffy, the heat was on Jordan to prove that the WB still had it. After all the stress, tension, and excitement, their labors boiled down to a Nielsen rating that translated into 8.4 million viewers, the highest debut for any WB show in the network's history. Young Superman beat the WB mark set nearly four years before with the premiere of Dawson's Creek. "We were screaming at one another. Just screaming with delight and joy," Roth recalls. "There was so much pressure." Because of the special effects, the pilot had come in at a cost of about $8 million - expensive by any network's standards. For the WB, it was a record breaker. But by all accounts, Warner Bros. Television never wavered in its faith that Smallville was worth the investment. The stakes were high, just like a good Superman comic adventure. TNT & TBS: The emergence of Smallville as the WB's next big hit provided an oasis of calm during an otherwise turbulent period for the network. As I watched it blossom from my unfamiliar spot on the sidelines, I was relieved that I'd dogged a speeding bullet of suffering the blame for letting the show get away to Fox. The success of Smallville was fabulous, but it also brought a new series of conflicts to the forefront. In Atlanta, Jamie Kellner was seeking to beef up TNT and TBS by having them run repeats of WB shows a day or two after the episode premiered on our network. Right around the time Jamie took over Turner, some studios saw those repeats on cable as a way to help them cover more production costs by collecting a little extra license fee money (usually $75,000 to $120,000) from a cable network happy to get a nearly new, highly promotable program. ABC had Alias encores, among other shows, running on its ABC Family cable network. Fox had the 24 clock ticking on FX. Universal Television had its Law & Order: SVU and Law & Order: Criminal Intent running on its sibling USA Network. Jamie believed repurposing episodes of WB hits on TNT or TBS a few days after their airing on the WB could help the networks and the programs by generating more advertising revenue, and greater exposure for the show, and better image-branding for the cable networks. After Smallville opened big, he sought to repeat that show on TNT within a week of each episode's telecast on the WB. Syndication hurdles: But Warner Bros. Television wasn't having any of it. Barry Meyer and Bruce Rosenblum were dubious about what all those extra repeats would do to the show's long-term syndication value. They were concerned that a show might wear out its welcome too quickly with viewers to have a long life in reruns. Worse, in their view, if those repeats drew low ratings, Warner Bros.' syndication sales guys would have an impossible time getting top dollar when they went out to sell the long-term rerun rights to the show if it lasted long enough to deliver 80 to 100 episodes. Barry and Bruce would not grant Jamie the right to repeat Warner Bros'. shows on the Turner networks... PHEW! I'll stop there. It's a start. More articles from other sources to come!