"The Webster Report"
Created by Theresa Rebeck

The Webster Report was going to be a character-based P.I. CBS pilot featuring a reluctant New York City gumshoe. It was developed by directed by Barry "Get Shorty" Sonnenfeld, and tentatively scheduled for the 2004-05 season. It flopped -- in fact, I'm not even sure if it was even completed, or ever aired.

I certainly never saw it...

To which a sharp-eyed viewer replied:

I must report that a pilot was completed, I did see it, and it would have been a truly great show-- a direct inheritor of Rockford's legacy.

I'm currently pursuing a screenwriting MFA and recently they brought in Stanley Tucci and one of the show's writers to screen the unaired pilot and discuss it.

The show was a revelation. Tucci, Bobby Canavale as his brother and Ben Gazarra as their dad -- they were all great. This was an old-fashioned, character driven lived-in NY show about an ex-cop who just wants make a few quick, cynical bucks but knows the system is rigged and can't help standing up for the little guy.

The talk afterwards was very revealing. The things that kept the show off the air (barely, apparently) were maddening. During production CBS kept asking for Tucci to collect a lot of evidence and nail the bad guy with it, a la CSI. One executive prefered Dr. Vegas so, when Webster tested better, he retested both shows -- in Las Vegas. The writer also spoke about how maddening it was writing for Law and Order: CI, where they perp had to suddenly spout a (totally inadmissable) confession every week. the writer wanted a return to the good old days and, after seeing the pilot, so did we.

I've probably said too much --These talks are supposed to be confidential-- but I wanted to let somebody know what a great lost opportunity p.i. fans had with this show.

EDITOR'S NOTE: ALL of CBS's testing is done in Las Vegas now. They haven't used the LA Preview House in years.


Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith, with a very special thanks to our source.

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