For some reason, that lyric came to my mind during Friday (July 13) afternoon’s TCA press tour sessions, as first Steven Moffat and later Chelsea Handler took great pains in distancing themselves from some very public failures.
For Moffat, he could rest on the laurels that come from having written every classic (and the couple not-so-classic) episode of the British Coupling, as well as seminal moments of the new Doctor Who reboot and BBC America’s upcoming Jekyll. But when Moffat gathers with American TV critics, he can’t help but field questions about NBC’s version of Coupling, which died the most ignominious of deaths in the fall of 2003.
"I so enjoy answering that question," he says (and he has, indeed, been answering it for years). "I’ve only been asked it 24 times today. All right. I can answer it with three letters, N-B-C. Very, very good writing team. Very, very good cast. The network f***ed it up because they intervened endlessly. If you really want a job to work, don’t get Jeff Zucker’s team to come help you with it because they’re not funny. All right? There you go."
We in the room love this sort of thing, particularly when it confirms the sort of observations we tried to make ourselves four years ago. Fortunately, Moffat has more to say.
"I can say that because I don’t care about working for NBC. But I think I’m entitled to say that because I think the way in which NBC slagged off the creative team on American Coupling after its failure was disgraceful and traitorous. So I enjoy slagging them off."
He pauses, either for breath or laughter.
"That’s the end of my career in L.A. I’ll be leaving shortly."
Moffat’s career will probably be OK.
Similarly, Chelsea Handler is feeling pretty secure about her upcoming E! late night talk show Chelsea Lately, so when she’s asked about her truncated tenure as host of FOX’s summer reality dud On the Lot, she’s happy to answer.
"I actually quit that show," Handler wants to clarify. "I wasn’t replaced. I quit because I smelled the disaster happening before it did."
Handler appeared as host of the first two, low-rated, episodes of On the Lot. When the series lurched into its regular weekly episodes, though, Handler was gone, replaced by the frequently maligned Adrianna Costa. Ratings, not-so-surprisingly, haven’t improved in her absence.
"Absolutely, God’s honest truth," she continues. "No, I feel that that was probably one of the best decisions I have ever made. I actually have a lot more confidence in my ability to make decisions. But someone said, ‘You can’t quit a Steven Spielberg show. You can’t quit a Mark Burnett production.’ I go, ‘Watch me. Watch me quit.’ You know, it was also in conjunction with this show, and I care a lot more about this show. I think it’s a lot more representative of who I am, and so it was one or the other, and after a while I realized I wasn’t in a show where I was really going to be able to be funny or have a good time."
To Handler’s credit, nobody else has managed to be funny or have a good time on On the Lot either.