Making The Perfect Exit

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Madeleine Brand consults writers and thinkers to come up with the perfect ending for Day to Day.


We called up two more people to talk a little bit about endings. First, Curtis Sittenfeld. She wrote the novel "American Wife." And get this. Our show, Day to Day, pops up on page 490.

(Soundbite of interview)

Ms. CURTIS SITTENFELD (Author, American Wife): (Laughing) The reason is, actually - I mean, I've worked as a journalist, not like a hard-hitting journalist, but I have, you know, written plenty of articles. And, you know, my first job out of college was as a reporter. And so, I definitely try to be factually accurate as much as possible. And at one point, the main character, Alice, is in Chicago during the afternoon, and she's riding in a limo. It's sort of a secret trip. But she - and she hears this father of a soldier who died in Iraq being interviewed on NPR. And so, I looked - I literally thought, OK, what time is it? What show would be on NPR? And it was you guys. And so, I thought OK, that's perfect. So…

BRAND: I hate to break it to you, but we were never on in Chicago.

Ms. SITTENFELD: You weren't?

(Soundbite of laughter)

COHEN: No. The station there didn't air our show.

Ms. SITTENFELD: Oh, my God. That's hilarious.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. SITTENFELD: That I pride myself - I'm like, totally incorrect. Factual accuracy …

BRAND: OK. So, it's never too late to rewrite, I guess. Her advice to us, write your own ending because…

Ms. SITTENFELD: You have to just trust yourself and write what you think should be written because it's your book. What choice do you have?

BRAND: I love that. But as we know, often the choice to end it is someone else's. Jason Katims is the executive producer of "Friday Night Lights." For the last three years, that show, about a high school football team in Texas, has faced cancellation because, although it has a rabid fan base, the ratings, hmm, they're only so-so. So, how does he write an ending without knowing the show's fate?

Mr. JASON KATIMS (Executive Producer, "Friday Night Lights"): In one way, you want to give a sense of resolution. I think, you know, we owe that to the fans of the show. We owe it to ourselves. But on the other hand, we don't want to, you know, write the show in such a way that we're finishing the show.

BRAND: Mm-hmm.

Mr. KATIMS: We want there to be a sense of, there's more to come.

BRAND: Maybe - I don't know, what ending would you craft for us? Do you believe in Hail Marys? I mean, it is a football show.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. KATIMS: You know, I was - you know, my suggestion is just show up to work next week and just keep doing it, and see if anybody stops you.

BRAND: I think they might because the show ends on Friday.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. KATIMS: Yeah, that's what I'm saying. It's like, what if you just kept doing it?

BRAND: Oh...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. KATIMS: You know, to me, that is the answer - is, you know, you have something great, and you just try to figure out a way to keep doing it.

(Soundbite of music)

COHEN: You're ready for it one last time?

BRAND: I'm Madeleine Brand.

COHEN: I'm Alex Cohen.

DAY TO DAY STAFF: Day to Day was the production of NPR News, with contributions from

(Soundbite of applause)

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