Warner Bros. TV Boss Channing Dungey Would Consider Rebooting ‘The West Wing’ One Day — But Not ‘Friends’

Channing Dungey
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It’s probably not the right time for a new version of “The West Wing,” but never say never, Warner Bros. TV Group chairman Channing Dungey told an audience on Monday at the Banff World Media Festival. “Perhaps there would be a point in the future when you might want to try to do that,” Dungey said of a new take on “West Wing.”

Dungey said a “Friends” reboot is still unlikely. “I think it would be very difficult to do another ‘Friends’ and call it ‘Friends,’” she said. “There have been so many shows that have been inspired by ‘Friends.’ That is such an iconic series and is constantly still running, so the idea that you would try to introduce a new Monica, a new Rachel and a new Ross, I don’t think that that would work.”

Among I.P. titles that Dungey would be interested in is “Ocean’s 11.” “That kind of a caper film, which is a great two-hour romp, what we might be able to do with that in a limited series format might be kind of fun.”

Still, Dungey said she’s very strategic when it comes to reviving a library title. “You have to think about, why why are you doing it? What’s the reason to do a new version? Is there’s something about the world that has changed in a way that makes take tackling it again fresh and interesting? I wouldn’t just do it for the sake of doing it…. I’ve definitely worked over the course of my career on reboots and reinventions that absolutely did not work, and probably have no reason to be done in the first place.”

Dungey had no update on whether a new evolution of “Ted Lasso” was any closer to happening, but she reiterated that creator Jason Sudeikis “is open to the idea. But I think he wants to have the right idea, which I which I appreciate. You don’t want to go do more, just for the sake of more, you want to go do more because you actually have something to say.”

The reboot/revival mania accelerated in recent years as a part of the “Peak TV” boost in volume at the networks and streamers. But with those numbers now declining, perhaps the end of “Peak TV” will be a good thing for the shows that remain, Dungey said. “Peak TV wasn’t really great for the business when you have 600 shows being made,” she told the audience, who acknowledged that the decline in production means a decline in the number of job positions on shows. “But for the consumer, 600 shows is untenable. There’s no possible way that you can keep up with all of it. That lack of critical mass is is frustrating and disappointing.”

From a creative standpoint, fewer shows also means less competition to try to break through in a crowded marketplace. “So you have a showrunner and a team of writers and directors and actors who labor for 18 to 24 months to make something that is then viewed by relatively few people and then cancelled after a single season,” she said of the peak days. “That’s totally disheartening. So, in a world where you don’t have 600 shows, you have 300 shows, then hopefully this shows that you do have are going to be seen by more people, embraced by more people, run for longer seasons. I think that’s a positive change.”

Dungey opened her conversation at Banff by noting that her four years at Warner Bros. TV has been marked by a complicated time in the business. But a year after the Hollywood strikes, “we feel like we’re back in action in every area — scripted unscripted and animation. And in terms of the broader business stuff, that feels like these are the challenges that everyone’s facing. The business is at a really critical period of evolution. A lot of things are changing — the way consumers find and consume media continues to be disrupted. The economics of the situation continue to be difficult, and you have a lot of companies that are going through consolidation and a lot of change. For us as a studio — and we’re an independent studio that sells everywhere — the buyers keep shifting and changing and morphing.”

When it comes to economic pressures and finding ways to make more cost-effective programming, Dungey noted that “you have to be crafty. We think about all the different ways to try to get the most bang for your buck. For us in the States, that means shooting in states that offer tax incentives to produce the shows,. There are many shows that we do here in Canada and elsewhere, where those same kinds of incentives play into it. Some of it is about planning. Where we might have been, let’s say, five days out on a show and three days in, now we’re going to try to find ways to be three days out and five days in. You just try to be creative and smart about how you do it.”

From Variety US