December 06, 2004 at 05:00 AM EST


TV Show
Current Status
In Season
Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Michael Richards, Jerry Seinfeld, Estelle Harris, Wayne Knight, John O'Hurley, Jerry Stiller, Patrick Warburton
Andy Ackerman, Larry David
NBC, Syndicated


Spent afternoon lolling around the DreamWorks animation campus in Glendale, Calif. The place is like Berkeley, warm and full-blooded with youth and grass and dreamy.


Wheel around: It’s Jonathan Berry, junior member of the three heads of DreamWorks Television.

”Peter, I was going to call you. It’s almost pilot season.”

Ignore the rumors. L.A. does have four seasons: earthquake season, fire season, riot season, and the most ravaging — pilot season. Network TV keeps groping to win over an America it despises — a viewing public it sees as a blurry, fat, brainless blob of uninsured, Hemi-powered, God-fearing Wal-Mart clerks. I’m paid to entertain them.

”When should I come by your office?”


Jonathan races off. I turn, walk, and bump into Jonathan’s bosses, Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey. Both are mid-30s, sharp, and smart. Makes you wonder why they chose not to contribute to society. I wonder that about myself. But that’s our America: Harvard grads once wrote speeches for Jack Kennedy. Now they write dialogue for Jim Belushi.

We chat about ratings, producers, agents, and a guy who fell victim to identity theft. I say, ”No one has to steal my identity. They can have it.” Darryl laughs: ”You gotta put that in a script!”

Sure. A funny line that doesn’t end up in a sitcom. What good does that do anyone?

Justin says it’s time for me to think up a new sitcom idea. Since the sitcom is like a terminally ill patient hanging on for no apparent reason, I want to say I’d rather be a travel agent on the Gaza Strip, but Justin gets a cell call.

I get an idea for a sitcom: 77 Gaza Strip.

Two-thirty. Jonathan’s office. ”Oh, Mehlman, you didn’t have to come over. Darryl and Justin told me they saw you. That’s all I wanted to talk to you about.”


”I’m sending you the Network Landscape.”


”The listing of what kind of new shows the networks are looking for. I send it to you every year.”

”Do I ever read it?”



Today starts out as the kind of day I love. No plans. No meetings. Nothing. Still, I feel hemmed in, like the world will pop in at any moment. I have no wife, no kids, no responsibilities, and yet 40 times a day I mutter to myself, ”Christ, it never ends.”

Outside a Starbucks in Santa Monica with my dog, Izzy, a mutt with so many warring instincts ping-ponging through her head she never knows whether to beg for treats or sniff suitcases for anthrax. At the next table are a man and four women.

Idea for sitcom: A woman gets divorced from a polygamist and collects alimony from one man and three women.

Turn the other way. A young girl is reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X.

Idea for sitcom: The Autobiography of Malcolm in the Middle.

You May Like