DO RUN RUN! Welcome to the hell that is Shaun Cassidy‘s life. Cassidy, the teen idol-turned-TV producer (American Gothic), made a drama pilot that combined comic and scary elements à la the wildly successful horror flick Scream. Titled Hollyweird, the show even had Scream director Wes Craven as its exec producer. With such a pedigree, Fox jumped at the chance to place the show on its fall schedule.
That’s when the trouble started. Apparently, not everyone at Fox was sold on the original concept — about camera-toting teens documenting L.A.’s evil underbelly — and the net (looking for more of a 21 Jump Street or The Mod Squad) asked Cassidy to tweak. Frustrated but game, Cassidy reworked the show not once, but twice. This, of course, delayed production, and put a big question mark where Hollyweird‘s debut date had been, leading to the inevitable buzz that the show was DOA.
Fed up, Cassidy quit. ”Having spent much of the last year trying to fix something I never viewed as broken … I am withdrawing from the process of deconstructing Hollyweird,” he said in a statement, adding ”The pilot that Fox bought was as fresh and original as anything I’ve been involved with.”
Shows die on the vine all the time (Fox and Studios USA, producers of Hollyweird, say they’ll proceed without Cassidy), but Fox is getting a bad rep for having second thoughts. Earlier this year, an already-in-production Dave Chappelle comedy fell apart when the net meddled in casting — its desire to add more white people to the mix led the irate African-American comedian to charge racism. Last year, two shows Fox ordered, Rewind and Secret Service Guy, also never saw the light of day. That’s an expensive way to decide you don’t like a show. (The way Fox sees it, it’s just saving the world from yet another poorly executed series.)
Hollyweird isn’t Fox’s only troubled new fall drama. Peter Horton‘s Brimstone is without an executive producer, and its debut has been pushed back. ”Fox has created an environment of fear,” says one studio topper. ”They’re not letting the creative people follow through on their vision.”
That is, unless your name is Chris Carter or David E. Kelley.