This, sadly enough, is real.
In 2010, Disney Channel came out with a show by the name of Good Luck Charlie. It became popular fast and is big with pre-teens and young children. It had very bland humor, but they seemed to like it. But what you may not know is that the show was originally written with a much darker premise.
It was 2006, and I had finished with my 3–4 years of college and received my major in Screenwriting/Television Production. I was very anxious to get my name out there so I could begin a hopefully lifelong career. I applied for jobs at places like Nickelodeon Studios, Orlando, and WGN, but I was rejected from several places. A little while after that, I got a call. It was from Disney Channel Studios in Burbank, CA. They called and informed me that they had an internship opening if I was interested. I was upset that it was all they wanted me for, but I agreed, realizing it was an OK start. Hey, it could've been worse right? Nope. They hired me and I came out to Cali to start my new job.
I was the 3rd floor intern to the company's CEO, he was demanding but hardly around, so it was easier than I expected. Sometime after I'd been hired, I heard that they had to start preparing new shows, due to the fact that Miley and the Suite Life kids were growing up and would soon stop being interested in doing children shows. They needed a backup plan to fall back on. Disney had called out some of the best producers to create Disney's next pointless television show. I was excited to hear this! For a little while I thought this could be my big chance to prove myself as a writer. I wanted to make myself a name but I just didn't know how. So I gave it up and went back to my lowly internship.
In mid January of 2008, I was fetching coffee for my dictator of a boss when I noticed an open door with a do not disturb sign on it. My curiosity got the best of me and I quietly walked in. There was a waiting room and then a main conference room, I stood in the waiting room listening quietly against the door. As it would turn out, it was a private meeting consisting of about 25 people. I wondered what they were there for so I continued to pay attention. A stout women stood up and announced that the pitches would continue after a short recess. "So that was it, the writers had come to pitch the new sitcom!" I thought. But then I was screwed because I'd be caught. They began to exit the room one by one, I hid in the room's bathroom. I came out and blended in the best I could. A man saw me come out and assumed I was apart of the creative staff, he told me I'd missed the introductory part and I should get back in there, his boss didn't take too kindly to tardiness. Apparently one member of the creative staff didn't show up and I was free to take his place and listen in on them. I was excited obviously. I'd always wondered what goes on in those brainstorming sessions for new shows. Maybe this was my start. Nope.
When everyone returned to the room two men were preparing a storyboard and readying their concept. They went by the names of Phil Baker and Drew Vaupen. I recognized the names because they worked on ABC sitcoms but not much else. I could see why Disney would call on them for this kind of job. They began by explaining that Disney's audience consists of young children and they should try to appeal to "older" audiences. Mr. Vaupen started off by explaining the story board. The show was originally called "Love, Teddy" which you may or may not have known. "We begin with 16 year old girl Teddy Duncan. She has it all, Popularity, a Boyfriend, Good Grades and everything. But what happens when our bad decisions take all of that away?" I felt tension in the room, I wanted to leave but I was interested to see where this was heading.
"One day our little miss Teddy is walking home late at night after visiting a friend. She is approached by a strange older male. He convinces her that his daughter has been harmed and he needs her help. Teddy being of kind nature agrees to come along with him, grave mistake. He kidnaps her and brutally beats her, eventually raping her and leaving her in the streets to die. She regains consciousness and returns home with bruises all over her face. She tells her parents (known back then as Amelia and Robert Duncan) that she has been violated and needs their help. They don't believe her and instead think she was out drinking and punish her for lying. 2 weeks later she comes to find she is pregnant. Devastated, she runs to her parents thinking they'll help her, Instead they become furious. But being strong Christians they demand she do not get an abortion. They then agree to pose as the child's biological parents under the condition she stay confined the house and be home schooled to save the family from embarrassment. 9 months later, when the child (back then named Grace Duncan) is born, Teddy is heartbroken to know that her child will never know how much she truly loves her because her parents have forbidden any close contact for Teddy and Grace. The series will focus on Teddy writing letters to her child and trying to maintain a distant relationship with Grace while fixing the shattered remains of her life (thus explaining the title)."
"Dear Charlie," the letters would begin. "Your Loving Mother, Teddy" the letters would always end.
He went on to explain further details regarding the series. Like how Teddy's parents were both emotionally and physically abusive or how when she returned to school her boyfriend left her for another and everyone had forgotten her. She befriends a large African American girl by the name of Ivy Wentz who gets her into all sorts of trouble due to the time frame of the original show. Love, Teddy was set to take place during the 1960s, they never mentioned where though. There was also no mention of Teddy's two brothers PJ and Gabe, she was an only child. The series was planned to be extremely serious and much darker than anything Disney would ever dream of.... The presentation had finished and I was blown away, so was the rest of the room. The head of staff immediately shot down the idea and calmly asked everyone to leave. I then realized I'd forgotten the CEO's coffee. I was caught and not long fired after that.
In 2010 I went back to my hometown and got a small job writing children's educational shows for my hometowns local television station. Not great, I know. When my roommate turned on Disney channel, I caught wind of a bumper for Good Luck Charlie and was in disbelief. I found that this show was the cleaner version of the storyboard I saw at my internship. I called up an old friend from the studio and he told me that Disney had picked up the show. He said that the executives and producers tweaked with it so much that it was dumbed down to the average Disney levels. He went on to tell me that original script was scrapped.
However, as it turned out Disney did create the original pilot for Love, Teddy. It featured most of the current cast except for Jason Dolley & Bradley Steven Perry who were not included into the show until the premise was rewritten. Very few people have seen the original pilot because it was soon after locked away in what is known as the "Vault".