Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip/The Option Period
The Option Period is the ninth episode of the first season of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, and the ninth episode overall. While Tom and Simon confront Harriet about posing in her underwear for a magazine, Jordan attempts to make Danny compromise in the face of budget cuts and Matt is faced with the potential loss of both co-executive producers.
Directly following the Jessica Simpson hosted show, the cast and crew deal with the bits of the show that went wrong: Cal berates Ricky for causing the show to run nearly 40 seconds short, Matt is up in arms about the effects fill-in not using the amount of fake blood he asked for and Harriet is confronted by Simon and Tom about her intention to pose for a magazine. In Matt's office, Jordan breaks the bad news that, because the TMG deal with China is going forward, there will be massive budget cuts across the board to compensate for the billions of dollars of debt they'll be put in. For Studio 60, this means that Danny is going to have to fire 15 people from the office or crew to compensate for a 6% cut in the budget. Alternatively, Jordan offers the idea of product placement and sponsorship deals with advertising companies, an idea that revolts Danny. Before a decision is made Cal enters the office and explains that Ricky and Ron are the cause of the runtime short. When Danny asks why they were using a different format for the scripts, they slowly realize that they were writing for a 30-minute format because they're writing a pilot.
In return for having a serious conversation about product placement, Jordan offers to look into Ricky and Ron's contracts to see if they are actually allowed to write a pilot because it could potentially take material away from the show. While she attempts to get their undivided attention, Simon and Tom continue to bother Harriet about the magazine she plans to appear in. Although they have no problem with the idea of Harriet appearing without clothes in a magazine, they see it as their responsibility to make her realize that even though she's looking to be objectified by the photoshoot, she's not going to get the desired result because the pictures are more about getting "skanky photos of the church girl" than looking sexy.
Jordan gets a call back from her assistant, Kevin, who tells her that Ricky and Ron are exclusive to Studio 60, but they have an exception for optioning Peripheral Vision Man. Because the option period for existing properties is up in a hour and a half, they realize that the co-executive producers are likely going to quit so they can go forward on their pilot. Matt goes in to ask them what the deal is with their pilot and argues with them over them taking the pilot to FOX without bothering to talk to either him or Danny about it. He tells them that he's still deciding on whether or not he's going to let them go through with it and leaves.
Meanwhile, in the empty backstage area, Simon and Tom continue to try to convince Harriet that posing for the magazine would only hurt her career because she has so many opportunities that they outweigh her potential gain, whereas the magazine stands to profit hugely. They manage to convince her slowly, but Tom blows it by saying that the show needs her to remain "pious" as cover.
In Matt's office, Matt asks Jordan to tie up the option and shut down Ricky and Ron's pilot so that they won't have an "ugly stepchild" while Studio 60 is making a comeback. Before she can make the call, though, Danny tells her about Jack's comments on the plane, including that the board wants her gone. In this time, Matt changes his mind and asks Jordan to put off the call for a while. As Matt wanders the studio, Harriet runs into him and they rehash the conversation about her potentially upcoming photo shoot when the truth comes out; Harriet isn't considering the pictorial because of another actress, she's considering it to get back at Women United by Faith for disinviting her. He tells her to call the group and work things out instead of degrading herself as vengeance. She takes the advice to heart, but Matt isn't done dispensing advice for the night.
Matt goes into the writers room to tell Ricky and Ron that they can go forward with the show, but he wouldn't suggest it because the show will get cancelled and they'll be out of work. This prompts Ricky to blow up at Matt and tell him that they're going to take the entire writing staff with the exception of Darius and Lucy with them when they're gone. In Matt's office, Cal presents Danny with an idea that will solve the budget problem: they'll redesign the "home base" set to look like the sunset strip, which conveniently is almost entirely billboards.
- Peripheral Vision Man: Ricky and Ron have written a pilot for their recurring sketch character, Peripheral Vision Man. They shopped it around quietly and were given a deal by FOX. The series would be a midseason replacement with an initial run of six episodes.
- Exodus: The entire writing staff has left the show in order to exercise an option to work for Ricky and Ron in their contracts. The only two writers who did not have this option are Lucy and Darius, who have never had a sketch on the show.
- Redesign: The set is going to be redesigned with the actual sunset strip in mind. This is both functional as a symbol and as a profit-making tool.