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Will Sassa Be an NBC Survivor?

"Is Scott Sassa, the president of NBC's West Coast division, in so much trouble with the network's management that he is about to be fired?

"...the New York Post published an article saying that John F. Welch Jr., the chairman of General Electric, NBC's parent, had criticized Mr. Sassa during a tense senior management meeting last Tuesday.

"... Mr. Welch was unhappy with the entertainment division that Mr. Sassa directs for not following the lead of ABC and CBS into the hot programming trend of reality shows like "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire" and "Survivor."

Bill Carter, New York Times

"Sassa! Get your network-ruining rear end in here!"

"You called, Chief? Boy, that's a sharp-looking tie you have..."

"Silence! That trick won't work this time. I suppose you've seen the papers this morning."

"Only 'Ziggy,' Chief. That guy's antics are something else. I never miss him and 'Garfield.'"

"I meant the trade papers, toad!"

"Another glowing story about the wacky contretemps on the top-rated Friends?"

"Hardly. Everything's Survivor this, and Who Wants To Be a Millionaire that. And now this new show, Big Brother, is grabbing all the headlines."

"Uh huh..."


"So what, Chief?"

"So where's our reality show, worm?"

"Are you kidding me, Chief? We have plenty of reality shows on NBC. There's the pulse-pounding reality of Third Watch. Many episodes of Law & Order? Ripped from today's headlines. And need I remind you, we offer four nights of Dateline NBC."

"Sassa... have you been sneaking liquor from my wet bar again?"

"Come on, Chief. We're NBC. We don't need to resort to tricks and chicanery like common Fox employees to get ratings."

"Have you seen the ratings for these shows, Sassa?"

"Well, I've had a lot of things on my mind lately, Chief. You can't expect me to know the ratings for every little show that comes along..."

"Who Wants To Be A Millionaire routinely finishes among the top-rated shows on TV. All three nights of it. Survivor's numbers are even better. And I don't want to think about what Big Brother is going to do."

"But I'm trying to tell you, Chief, our numbers are just as good. The top-rated sitcom? Friends. The most-watched drama? ER. And just look at some of our other 'Must See' shows... 3rd Rock from the Sun. Daddio. The Saturday Night Thrillogy. Uh..."


"I think I see what you mean."

"So what are you going to do about it, Sassa?"

"Well, Chief... let's take six beautiful New Yorkers. We'll have 'em live in the same apartment. Maybe Marta Kaufman and David Crane can write a couple of quips for 'em..."

"Think harder, Sassa."

"OK, OK. It's been done. How about this: people like millionaires, right? They like quiz shows, right? They like watching people trapped on islands, right? We have a quiz show where we ask people about 'Survivor,' and we give the winner a million dollars. Whaddya say, Chief?"

"You have five minutes to clean out your desk."


"Four minutes."

"Chief! I'm trying my best here."

"Sassa, do you think that once -- just once, mind you -- you could come up with an idea that isn't a carbon copy of something that everyone has done a million times before?"

"Um... just once, Chief?"

"Three minutes."

"Uh.... OK. We've got a tropical island. And we... uh... put people on it. But instead of competing against each other, they have to work together because... uh..."

"I'm waiting."

"... because they're being chased by savages."

"Savages... hmmmmmm."

"Really, really angry savages."

"I like the savages. It adds that element of danger. But the tropical island... too close to Survivor."

"How about Devil's Island, then?"

"Good... good. And instead of savages, we could have the contestants chased by paroled prisoners."

"Wouldn't that be too dangerous?"

"Nah. We'll get the contestants to sign waivers. And it helps ease the overcrowding in our prisons."

"That gives me a great idea, Chief. Instead of an island, we can stick the contestants in prison."

"I'm not sure I follow, Sassa."

"We frame someone for a crime they didn't commit. They have a week to clear themselves. Otherwise, we execute them by lethal injection."

"Outstanding! It's like Survivor meets 'Midnight Express' meets 'Hurricane' meets 'Dead Man Walking.'"

"And we can use a prison in Texas. They execute people at the drop of a hat there. The only thing left to decide is the prize money."

"Sassa, this is General Electric. Surely, you know, we'll spare no expense to reward the winning contestants."

"So $1,000 then?"

"Make it two grand. We don't want to look cheap."

"We'll get Tom Brokaw to host."

"No, no. Tom'll never do it."

"Geraldo, then."

"Sure... he'd broadcast his own bowel movement if we let him."

"That could be our midseason replacement show, Chief."

"Sassa, I like the way you're thinking. Why'd I ever doubt you in the first place?"

"Beats me, Chief. After all, I'm the guy who greenlighted Stark Raving Mad."

"You've got one minute to clean out your desk."


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