Here's how dire the situation is for Fox's "On the Lot": It finished behind a "George Lopez" rerun in the ratings last Tuesday — and that was actually an improvement on its Monday numbers. Fox responded by ditching the show's Monday edition altogether and reducing the show to just one hour per week.
Honestly, I'm not sure changing the show's format for a third time in just three weeks is the right way to find an audience for "On the Lot." If I were advising producers Steven Spielberg and Mark Burnett on this one, here's what I'd be telling them to do:
- Pick a format and stick with it. I want to like the show, but I'm not even sure what kind of show it is now. It started off as a "Project Greenlight"-type behind-the-scenes show focusing on contestants' personality conflicts, then became an "American Idol" knockoff that was strictly about the movies and the voting at home, and now I'm not sure what to expect when the show's new hourlong edition debuts tonight. The show felt so drastically different between its first and second weeks that I don't think I would have known it was "On the Lot" if the graphics hadn't told me so. Some people liked the first format and hated the second; others liked the second and hated the first. But now, Fox has managed to alienate both groups.
- Ditch Adrianna Costa. As I said last week, Costa's frenetic hosting style made me appreciate Ryan Seacrest. After watching her for two shows last week, I really wanted to put a fork through my TV screen. I don't know if original host Chelsea Handler would have been any better — after all, we barely got to see her — but I can't imagine how she could have been worse.
- Get a critical judge. It's a given at this point that Randy and Paula are going to make inane comments on "American Idol" — but at least Simon is always there to say something honest, snarky and occasionally surprising, and I've come to trust his opinion. I didn't think Carrie Fisher and Garry Marshall offered much in the way of constructive criticism on last week's show, and I'd love for them to hire at least one straight-talking judge to be a regular on the panel.
- Narrow the challenges. The one-minute comedy challenge resulted in such a wide variety of films that it was hard to see the objective differences between them. I'd like to see "On the Lot" use challenges like the ones from the Hollywood Boot Camp rounds at this stage instead, challenging directors to make films from the same logline or asking them to make a movie in the style of a particular trailer. The assignments then could get broader as the field narrows and we get more familiar with each director's work.
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Photo courtesy of Fox