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Who’s Running the Show?

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On Set: Sons of Anarchy
Actors Maggie Siff and Katey Sagal with showrunner Kurt Sutter.  

THE SHOWRUNNER CHALLENGE

We asked our panel of creators the following question. “The network is pressuring you to incorporate five trends popular on reality TV into your show: pawnshops, sextuplets, an elaborate ice sculpture, rehab or addiction, and weight loss. How would you do it?” 30 Rock’s Robert Carlock, off the top of his head, came up with the loopiest solution by far, giving you a glimpse into how the wickedly funny and occasionally creepy world of Liz Lemon is created.

"It’s funny, the sextuplets thing touches on something we’ve been talking about all year and I’m hoping we’ll do next year. Which is that Jenna, when she was in Chicago, was constantly selling her eggs to get money to buy a Vespa, and over the course of a couple of days she meets twenty daughters that she has from having sold her eggs. Pawnshop? That would be a way for Liz Lemon to realize her earnest and heartfelt desire to adopt a child by buying a used doll with a crack in its skull and pushing it around in a stroller on the Upper West Side for the rest of her life, until she and Radio Man get married and raise it. Um, ice sculpture? Jack Donaghy is at a fund-raiser for a charity he runs for raising awareness among the poor about not calling non-French sparkling wine Champagne, and there’s an ice sculpture of a mermaid at the event, which he falls in love with and she comes to life. It’s sort of a Mannequin-Splash conceit. And then he’s torn because of his love for both the mermaid and his fellow millionaires at the rich-man club, who would like to serve the mermaid as sushi. Then it becomes sort of an O. Henry conceit, along with The Freshman. So it’s multiple conceits, and then it’s a conceit conceit. He eventually lets her escape into the ocean, never to see her again, after having eaten only a little of her. At the end of the day, Jack’s romantic tendencies get the best of him every time. He wouldn’t eat the mermaid, that’s the thing. He would let her go. At the end of the episode, we’ll discover that the entire series up until this point was a hallucination being had by a celebrity in rehab while straining a stool. So we’ll just pull out, like at the end of St. Elsewhere, on Gary Busey on the toilet. We’ll realize the whole thing was in his imagination. That takes care of rehab, and then for weight loss we’ll weigh every member of the cast before and after the show with their shirts off, because it does work. Especially with Lutz. We keep making him take his shirt off. It’s unfortunate."


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