Newsgroups and TV blogs have been buzzing about the reported $10 million budget for J.J. Abrams’s Fringe pilot—about twice as high as most TV pilots. “That’s a movie budget!” gasped one fan-site poster. Well, that’s certainly where things are headed. One of the paradoxes of the TV business has been that even the most eye-popping budgets are peanuts compared with those of feature films. (Variety called the $25 million price tag for Abrams’s Cloverfield “shoestring.”) But according to longtime producer Marshall Herskovitz, the cost of TV pilots in general has shot up, to more than $5 million an hour from $3 million several years ago. And for Fringe, Abrams shot a two-hour action show that opens with a flesh-eating virus set loose on an airplane. “Viewers are a lot more sophisticated now,” says veteran director and producer Harry Winer. “They demand greater production values, more-complex stories, and higher-quality special effects. And now, with HD, there’s no room for error.”
$10 Million for a Pilot?
- Toni Morrison’s History Lesson
- The Return of John Updike and Philip Roth
- The Semi-Gothic Debut Novelist: Hannah Tinti
- Amitav Ghosh Creates a New Language
- Match the Subject to the Biography
- Is Roberto Bolaño's Final Novel His Greatest?
- Memoirs Tackling Addiction and Mental Illness
- Vulture's Recommend-o-Matic: Books
- Marilynne Robinson Returns to Gilead
- The Season in Books
Classical & Dance
- Counting Down to the Premiere of Doctor Atomic
- Which Venues Are Closed for the Season
- Daniel Barenboim Is Keeping Busy
- Carnegie Hall Honors Leonard Bernstein
- Doug Cuomo Trades SATC for Sanskrit
- Alisa Weilerstein Joins the Family Business
- String Quartet Ethel Turns Music Into Theater
- Chopin Inspires Benjamin Millepied
- The Season in Classical & Dance
- Rachel Weisz Tries Comedy
- What You Should Know About The Road Director John Hillcoat
- Q&A With Josh Brolin on Playing George Bush
- A Guide to The Season's Bro Movies
- Q&A With Catherine Keener on Being Charlie Kaufman's Nightmare Muse
- Benicio Del Toro Won't Make Fun of Your Che T-Shirt
- Why Beverly Hills Chihuahua Is a Stoner Classic
- Vulture's Recommend-o-Matic: Movies
- The Season in Movies
- Oasis and the Verve Refuse to Go Out Quietly
- Will America Go Berserk for Glasvegas?
- Leona Naess Comes Back From the Depths
- Young Jeezy Isn't Cutting Back
- Motörhead Returns With 21st Album
- Brian Wilson Explores the California Dream
- The Jazz Event of the Season: Festival of New Trumpet Music
- Big Bands Make a Comeback
- Deerhunter Turns Down the Noise
- Sigur Rós Dresses Up
- TV on the Radio Comes Through Loud and Clear
- Q&A With Free Blood About "Sex Party Music"
- The Season in Pop
- J.J. Abrams Tries to Play It Straight
- $10 Million for a Pilot?
- Simon Baker Makes Us Watch a Telepathic Quack
- Can Two Commonwealth Comedies Import Funny?
- Where New York–Based Shows Left Off
- 90210 Returns
- Christian Slater Is His Own Worst Enemy
- Vulture's Recommend-o-Matic: TV
- Will Michael Scott Find Love on The Office?
- The Season in TV