"I want to make great shows, or I want to make lousy shows. I don't want to just cruise along and make common denominator television," Bruce Paltrow told 'Knight-Ridder Newspapers'.
1988. 'Tattingers'. After 7 episodes, NBC took the show off the air.
Los Angeles Times: What went wrong?
Tom Fontana: "I've been musing what went wrong in my mind, and I don't think what we did was bad. I just think what we showed, people didn't want to watch. It was a conscious choice to remain open-ended. And so the show has been very schizophrenic and people got confused."
Bruce Paltrow: "The network really held up their end, and our competition wasn't so formidable. But the franchise ultimately was not realized."
Centered around an upscale Manhattan restaurant, 'Tattingers' was shot in New York City's Hudson River, West 23rd Street studio, piers 59 to 61 sound stages. By 1987, some 131 programs were said to be "made in New York City". It was understood the 'Tattingers' pilot had costed $2.8 million to make with NBC paying $2 million and MTM Productions $800,000. "The difference between what NBC paid MTM as a license fee and the show's actual cost was $3.5 million," it was made known.
'Tattingers' was intended to replace the departing 'St. Elsewhere' after 6 seasons on the air and 137 episodes. The pilot of 'Tattingers' attracted 25% share of the audience, the 2nd episode attracted only 17% share and after the 7th episode went on air, 'Tattingers' finished the first half of the 1988-1989 season the 62nd ranked show among the 78 on prime time network television at the time.
From the outset, Bruce Paltrow told 'Knight-Ridder Newspapers', "It took us a year to figure out how to make 'St. Elsewhere'. It's going to take us a year to figure out how to make 'Tattingers' . . . The shows are, in a way, about the people who make the shows. So what we're thinking about, what we're curious about, what we're wondering about, what we're afraid of, that all makes it onto the air."
Of the 4 remaining episodes, 2 were shown in January 1989 before 'Tattingers' transformed from the hour-long drama into a half-hour sitcom. Four episodes of 'Nick & Hillary' were made but only 2 went on air in April 1989. 'Nick & Hillary' was filmed at Pier 62 in the West 20's. The upscale restaurant would also be turned into a trendy nightclub. "The only reason they went for the idea was that Brandon (Tartikoff) had it as well," Bruce disclosed. "So far as I know, bringing a show back like this in a different form is unique in the annals of the industry,'' Brandon added.
Tom Fontana told Nikki Finke the 'Tattingers' pilot had to be reshot because Bruce Paltrow wanted to redesign the restaurant set and made changes to the cast, "What we should have done at that point is thrown the first script away and thrown all the film away and just start again but we didn't do that. So the first show was wobbly." What should have been the 2nd episode, the production team then changed that to become the 3rd (it was noted under pressure from the network) and started a whole new 2nd episode, "which probably confused the audience even more. So we tried to second-guess ourselves, the network tried to second-guess us, and we should have gone with our initial instincts."
Tom believed, "A lot of people wouldn't have been happy unless they got the second coming of 'St. Elsewhere.''' Bruce maintained, ''I think our last few episodes were getting better and maybe we might have found our audience but I accept that we didn't really have a sense of ourselves.''
Stephen Collins offered, "While Nick was an interesting character, he was all over the place, getting into all these misadventures. One minute Nick was in the East Village, the next he was helping his priest friend. People were confused. What was this show about?''
Before filming began, Tom told the press, "The wonderful thing about 'St. Elsewhere' was it kept evolving over the 6 years. I have the same feeling about 'Tattingers'. We will discover what the show is about over the years. The cast will help us find that. The audience will help us find that."