"That's an accepted part of the feature development process," noted Scott Siegler, president of Columbia Pictures Television, which is a partner in both "Rachel Gunn" and "The Powers That Be." "That's been less true in television, and I don't think any of us quite knew why. From an economic and professional point of view, it made no sense. You spend a lot of time and money developing these things, and the idea that they wouldn't be useful to other networks is a little crazy.
"The Holy Grail has always been: How do we make this business more economical? There are a lot of attempts, and I think this is one of them," Siegler said. "I think it also represents a maturing of the business. It's a more sensible approach to doing business. If someone sees a show that will work on their network, pride of development is a silly kind of egotism that most executives don't feel makes much sense anymore."
In addition to loosening trade restrictions for series under development, the networks are also developing more in-house series, commissioning fewer pilots during the development season and ordering fewer episodes once they've decided to pick up a series--all in the name of returning profits to network television.
"The network business is more businesslike now," Siegler said, "and it's not as much an old-fashioned monopoly. They're operating on more sensible business and creative levels."