They were written as television pilots, but they never quite got their shot at the small screen. Some were too original for conventional TV. Some were too bizarre. All are part of The Other Network. And they're now part of a traveling theatrical release making its debut in Washington, D.C.
As NPR's Susan Stone reports, The Other Network is "more of a concept than a format." It's the brainchild of Beth Lapides and her partner Greg Miller. Lapides is a Los Angeles-based comic (and occasional NPR commentator). She and Miller wrote a doomed pilot called The Couch a few years back, and decided to find a way to help comedy writers share good work that simply failed to find a receptive ear with TV programmers.
The Other Network capitalizes on the avalanche of pilots created every year. Among them:
Heat Vision and Jack, a pilot directed by Ben Stiller and starring funny man Jack Black as a really smart astronaut with a talking motorcycle (voiced by Owen Wilson).
Saturday TV Funhouse. A character called Prozo the Clown hosts the offbeat offering from Robert Smigel, who creates lively, satiric animated shorts for Saturday Night Live.
The Lewis Lectures: animated motivational training for dogs.
The Other Network began as a nightclub event, in L.A., with writers and creators introducing their work. Invitations to New York followed, and now comes the theatrical release.
Some of the best writers in the business cheer The Other Network as a means of validation. Judd Apatow is widely admired for the series Freaks and Geeks, which fell victim to low ratings after a brief run on NBC. The Other Network has shown three of his pilots.
Lapides and Miller are in talks with a cable network about finding a TV home for their creation in anthology form.