Mike Klein (David Duchovny) is a television producer and writer who is overseeing the production of the pilot episode of his new show "The Wexler Chronicles". The show is a dramatic comedy about a man who returns to his hometown after the suicide of his brother. Throughout the production process, he is constantly dealing with two meddling network executives (Sigourney Weaver, Ioan Gruffudd) who want to change his show to better fit the demographics of the network's audience.
They go against Mike's choice for the lead actor and select another one for his looks rather than his acting ability. During the shoot, it becomes obvious to everyone that he can't act, but the executives think he's funny. They also want to change the name of the show and, incredibly, want to drop the suicide angle because it's too depressing. They insist that a second pilot be shot in which the mother has died and the brother is in prison. They will use audience testing to determine which one is the better one. Mike tries to influence the vote by putting together a horrible edit of the "mother dies" version and a great edit of the "brother dies" version. During the testing, however, Mike has to have emergency spinal surgery.
Several weeks later, the network tells Mike, who is still recovering from the surgery, that the show will be picked up and placed on the fall schedule. However, they will only do so on the conditions that it goes with a new title, "Call Me Crazy", and that the "mother dies" version is aired. A few weeks later, during the network's upfronts (when they promote their shows and debut their new ones to the fans and critics), Mike learns that the network's promotions department had put together some clips of the show without consulting him. He watches in horror as he sees that the clips make the show out to be a slapstick comedy. As the movie ends, Mike realizes that he has to come up with 22 more episodes of the program that barely resembles his original vision.