The road to sitcom hell is paved with yucks galore in this sharp and sprightly Hollywood tale. Long had one of the best jobs in America. As co-executive producer of the sitcom Cheers, he was responsible for writing and running one of television's greatest cash machines. Then Ted Danson decided to leave, and the show was suddenly over. All of the power and status that Long and his writing partner Dan Staley had accumulated quite suddenly evaporated. The only way back was to start again, so after the feverish grunion-like courtship of a number of studios the two men signed a two-year development deal to create a television series. It was a marked change from the busy, meat-grinder schedule of Cheers. ``A development deal,'' Long explains, ``is one of those entertainment industry creations that when described, sounds suspiciously like goofing off.'' Eventually, guilt intruded into Long and Staley's late-to-work, long-lunch, home-early schedule, and they began creating a sitcom. That's when their troubles really began: endless meetings, duplicitous agents, lies and uncertainty, and, most of all, bureaucracy. ``The main reason television sitcoms are so bad,'' Long suggests, ``is that too many educated people are involved in creating them.'' Much of the book is taken up with hilarious conversations, not only with Long's agent, but with all manner of familiar Hollywood types. Long is preserved from the pitfalls of Hollywood clichÇ by his deft sense of timing and his keen ear for the industry's various tangled argots. Eventually, after any number of funny but frustrating travails, he and Staley produced a show that ran one unsuccessful season on a start-up network. Long will undoubtedly go on to greater successes, but those two years were hardly wasted. After all, they produced this finely wrought comic gem.
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