Eric Schaeffer
Theater director

Eric Schaeffer

Co-founder and artistic director for Signature Theatre in Arlington, which won the 2009 Regional Theatre Tony Award for sustained artistic excellence.


Roll the dice

Q: NBC's bold decision to move Jay Leno into prime time has been a ratings disaster. How often does a roll of the dice hurt instead of help? Are gamblers more likely to succeed than those who are cautious by nature?

The idea of Jay Leno in his own 10 p.m. slot is a good one. I thought it would be a huge success rather than the huge failure it turned out to be. But I think the most important thing was that NBC actually took the gamble.

We all need to do that, because without the gamble, nothing changes.

The smart thing is learning from the mistake and making changes now before it's too late.

When we mount shows at Signature Theatre, we want every one of them to be a big hit. We do world premieres of shows that no one has ever heard of. It's a huge gamble every time out.

But If Signature did not take the gamble to give these writers a place to have their voice heard, we would just be spinning wheels seeing the same shows over and over. How many times can you see "A Streetcar Named Desire"?

Sometimes the gamble doesn't pay off, and not all of the new shows turn out to be hits. But you learn from each new show and apply it to the next and continue to grow as an artist and person.

The one thing I realize is that years back, it was easier to predict hits and misses. In the current economic environment, there is no telling what will happen. To me, it just tells me we need to gamble even more and take the risk.

By Eric Schaeffer  |  January 14, 2010; 12:01 AM ET  | Category:  taking chances Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Passion and pride | Next: Smart risks, dumb risks


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if leno was willing to lose, it was a gamble

since leno wasn't willing to lose, everybody got covered in shite

some say that leno isn't to blame, but he didn't say no to displacing conan, did he ???

one word from leno could have avoided this situation

leno lacked the courage and moral fiber to say the word

and NBC died

gamblers know when to quit

people with gambling disorders lose everything

NBC isn't gambling, they have a gambling disorder

Posted by: nada65931 | January 18, 2010 3:24 PM
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But I think the most important thing was that NBC actually took the gamble.

took the gamble ???

what are you talking about ???

NBC put the chips on the table, LOST, and then tred to pick up their chips after the loss

what kind of gambling is that ???

NBC screwed up by putting leno on at 10:00

and then NBC doubled down on "The Stupid", destroyed the "Tonight Show" franchise, insulted an innocent man, and paid the innocent man 30 MILLION DOLLARS

so by trying to save leno, NBC killed leno, conan, and the tonight show

gambling is the devil's pasttime

NBC got their just rewards

gamblers should know when to quit

NBC needs an intervention, if they want to stave of bankruptcy


or not

Posted by: nada65931 | January 18, 2010 2:47 PM
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Only a moron would think 5 nights of Jay at 10pm would succeed. His bits are old/lame, and he throws softball type questions to guest. He will move back to 11:35pm and probably get half the ratings he had before, meanwhile NBC has very little to no following for primetime shows except for sunday night football. Whoever has been in charge has run them into the ground with columnist backing their moves. Seems like most comedians that I've read or listen to, back Conan. Jay had a good run, but he needs to walk away. He'd be considered a bigger man for it.

Posted by: larry40 | January 18, 2010 10:02 AM
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There are smart risks and dumb risks. A tenet of television program has, for year, been "lead-in" and "lead-out". NBC knew that Leno would have lower ratings, they even promised that to advertisers. (That would be made up for by lower production costs.)

But they ignored the risk to their affiliates late news, and they ignored their own research that showed Conan with a much narrower demographic appeal than Leno. They took not just a foolish risk, but an exceptionally stupid one.

I'm assuming that your theater offers a balance of shows, new and old, appealing to different audience types. Would it be a foolish risk to say "No, we're going to just do unknown, untried productions from now on, and the audience will just have to learn to like them?" (Hint: yes, it would be very dumb.)

Posted by: miffedone | January 16, 2010 12:34 PM
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