Dan Knauf Speaks About Carnivale's Cancellation
First of all, I haven't commented to the press yet, so these are my first thoughts on this matter, and I can't think of a better group of people to share them with. Lots of you guys have been there since the beginning, and I've enjoyed your analysis, arguments, cheers and occasional gentle (but well thought-out) jeers.
I've read all the posts since Beth announced the cancellation (Could somebody please tell me where this woman gets her information? Talk about jacked-in!), have taken heart and encouragement from your kind words, have shared your outrage and sense of loss.
If you're hoping I'll slam HBO, I'm afraid you're in for a bit of a disappointment.
The fact is, nobody—-and I mean *nobody*-—would have even considered financing and broadcasting a show this expensive, this different, this technically challenging, even if the creator was a seasoned television writer-producer. The fact that I was an untested talent makes their courage all the more extraordinary. I will always appreciate Carolyn's dedication and passion to this project, Chris's support, and
Miranda's steady, guiding hand.
True, like many of you, I am ambivalent: HBO giveth, and HBO taketh away.
I feel like a father whose baby was doomed in vitro, somehow delivered, treated and kept alive by a brilliant team of surgeons, only to see that same team yank the child off life-support just as she began to show improvement.
Do I think their decision was boneheaded? Yes, absolutely.
Do I understand why they made it? Again, yes, absolutely.
Carnivale was an expensive show. Costs-per-episode have been guessed at on this board, and in every case those estimations have been low. Way low. Carnivale, in fact, represented one of the most costly—-if not *the* most costly—-pattern-budget ever invested in a weekly series in television history. If anybody has any resentment toward HBO executives, consider this:
• They have a fiduciary responsibility toward their stock-holders;
• The show was hugely expensive;
• The reviews were mixed.
• The audience was not large enough to support it.
Game. Set. Match.
Was Carnivale thrown into a hopeless time-slot? Definitely. Could we have done better with more promotion and support? Probably. Were marketing opportunities missed? Undoubtedly. Would we have broken out had we gotten a third season? I'm absolutely sure of it.
Would I bet my career, my reputation and--more importantly--tens of millions of stockholder dollars on it?
I sincerely do not know.
I'm not here to play apologist for the network. Far from it. But in fairness, these things need saying, so there they are.
HBO taketh away, but, damnit...
... HBO giveth.
I was fortunate enough, for a too-brief, shining moment, to be part of a project in which every last contributor believed with all their hearts—-from the production assistants to the network executives.
Everybody on the show knew we were doing something special. Nobody delivered less than their best work. This is an exceedingly rare thing in the television world, where talented cast and crew are, quite frankly, wasted on pabulum. When asked what they're working on, the all-too-routine answer is "Some piece-of-s—-t cop show (or doctor show, or lawyer show)."
Meanwhile, we all got to work on Carnivale.
Now *that* is cool.
And you guys watched it. And got it. And appreciated it.
You guys counted down to Sunday nights.
You reveled in the show's mysteries, its characters, its world. You taped it, you TIVOed it, you played and replayed it. You caught every blooper and anachronism, every real and imagined flaw in our internal logic. You praised its authenticity and historocity. You researched our mythology. Unlike many of our critics, you not only welcomed the show's intellectual and narrative challenges, but embraced them!
Not one teeny, tiny shred of our time, trouble and work was wasted on you.
And that is very, *very* cool.
Folks have been asking what I want them to do in the face of this, Okay, then. If there's one thing I want from you guys, it's to simply know this:
Carnivale is not dead
Raymond Chandler was once asked by a reporter how he felt about Hollywood ruining all his books. He simply pointed at a shelf behind him and said, "Hollywood hasn't ruined my books. They're all right there."
Similarly, I might point at my boxed set of Season 1 (and soon-to-be-issued Season 2) and say, "The network didn't kill my show. It's right there. Wanna watch a few episodes?"
Carnivale, and this wonderful community that's joined to celebrate it, will continue to live as long as the work is viewed and enjoyed. It's pretty clear now that, for whatever reasons, we never found our audience.
But it's not too late.
Lend your DVDs to friends. Get them out there into the world. Capture eyeballs, collect converts. Donate sets to your local libraries. Throw viewing parties. Start discussion groups.
For God's sake, organize a Live CarnyCon!
And maybe—-just maybe—-in the (hopefully) not so distant future, some bright young executive will say, "Hey, remember that show Carnivale? You know, people are still talking about that! There's a monster fan base out there!" Maybe they'll order a season. Maybe a series of films...
Who knows? Stranger things have (and do) happen.
You can bet I, as well as many in our cast and crew, will be ready to support you in any way we can. As for me, I'll be weighing in on the lists, participating in chats like always. I'm not going anywhere. You guys are stuck with me.
Granted, it'll take some effort, but as a very wise friend of mine named Samson once said, "When it comes to livin, dyin's the easy part." And everything's impossible, til it ain't.
Fans, the ball's in your court, now. Take it and run with it.
I love you guys.
(As posted on the CarnivaleHBO yahoogroup)