HOLLYWOOD, CA–Danielle Pierce, 33, an assistant producer at Access Hollywood, told a friend Monday that she "could never and would never" work for Entertainment Tonight.
"Work for ET? No way. Never," Pierce told Liz Sharkey, a production assistant at Castle Rock Entertainment, over drinks at a Melrose Avenue bar. "Have you seen that show lately? They're so derivative over there. And slow. They didn't show a first look at the Charlie's Angels trailer until a week before the premiere. We hit air with it–and a bumper piece on Cameron's comic roles–10 days after ShoWest."
Scanning the bar in search of what she called "Extra Terrestrials," Pierce continued: "ET has no voice of its own. One minute, they're doing an E!-style fashion bit. The next, they're trying to be Extra. Our press kit says we're brash, up-to-the-minute, and wholly unique–and it's true. We lead, ET follows. It shows in everything we do, from the exclusive on-set peek at M. Night Shyamalan's latest thriller to the report on Angelina Jolie's controversial Oscar dress, to our coverage of more difficult subjects like the rumored friction on the Friends set."
"Sure, Access doesn't pay as much as ET. But we don't have to," said Pierce, squeezing a lime slice into her margarita. "People know they've stalled and that the culture just isn't the same. I met an ET researcher at a party last month–slightly phony guy–and, anyway, it was clear he didn't believe in the job. It's much more of an assembly-line mentality over there: Just churn it out. And that's really not helped by having [Bob] Goen and [Mary] Hart at the desk. Bob's a poor man's John Tesh, and Mary, she couldn't say her name without a cue card. [Access Hollywood anchor] Pat [O'Brien] is trusted and really knows his stuff. We could go live if we had to."
Pierce offered a specific example of what she believes to be Entertainment Tonight's lack of "freshness, savvy, and insight."
"I was watching their show last night, and they were doing a spot on the breakout new shows of the fall season–almost all of them were Paramount shows, of course. Shameless corporate tie-in. Okay, we do it sometimes, too, but not that bad. Anyway, at the start of this thing, they had a 'produced by' line, and there were three names. How can it take three people to produce this one segment unless you're really overstaffed and stifling people's creativity?"
As a result of the shows' radically divergent philosophies, Pierce said that Access Hollywood and Entertainment Tonight draw different types of viewers.
"They're half a ratings point above us in the average week, unless we land some kind of Tom Cruise exclusive or something. Survivor helped them, too, since they've got so many CBS carriers," Pierce said. "But their demos are for shit. I mean, we absolutely cream them among 18-to-35s. The only ones ET scores big with are people too old to know or care what's truly going on in Hollywood."
Added Pierce: "The difference is apparent in the names of the shows. They're all about the surface aspect of entertainment. We've got a deeper, far more insider angle, yet are still accessible to the casual fan."
"No, Liz, I could never, ever work there," Pierce said. "Not unless they changed their entire way of doing things. Why? Have you heard anything about that executive-producer position? Not that I'd be interested or anything."