Friday, June 16, 2017

Friday Questions

Who’s up for some Friday Questions?

Steve is.

I was reminded of by the mention of 'Goodbye Radar' but I assure you is not meant as a criticism of those episodes: Why do so many two-parters seem to be so padded out? Do they start life as one script that can't be edited down to the proper length?

In many cases that’s true. I’ll be honest – most two-parters – at least in sitcoms -- are really part-and-a-halfers.

And usually this crystallizes at the script stage. There’s just too much story to tell in one episode so the choices are to cut elements, which sometimes really short-changes the story, or expand to a two-parter, which often results in some padding.

Sometimes the decision is made after a show is shot – add a few scenes and make it a two-parter, but usually not. It’s expensive to shoot way more than you originally need so usually that’s addressed before it gets to that stage.

But I will say this, and it’s happened to my partner and me a couple of times – there’s nothing greater than turning in a first draft that’s a little long and hearing the showrunner say, let’s just make it a two-parter. Suddenly we get paid for two scripts. And even if we have to do another draft to fill out the two-parter, that’s just a few scenes. It’s a beautiful thing.

In the case of GOODBYE RADAR, CBS wanted the show to be an hour so they could promote it during November sweeps over two weeks. And there is a little padding in there, I will admit.

slgc asks:

The film MOVIE MOVIE had been in heavy rotation for a long time, but now it is nowhere to be found. Why does that happen to some films? Why do some of them simply fall off the face of the Earth?

This all has to do with distribution rights. Movies are syndicated to stations in packages. A station might acquire a library of say fifty movies that they can air for three years. Over time these distributor deals with studios change, and as companies are purchased by other companies sometimes titles fall by the wayside.

MOVIE MOVIE is a very funny film, co-written by Larry Gelbart. I believe it’s available still on DVD. If so, check it out.

cd1515 wants to know:

Friday question: recently watched the John Cleese episode of Cheers, one of the finest ever IMO and I noticed you didn't write it.

Respectfully, have you ever worked on a show, seen an episode someone else wrote and been a little jealous of how good it came out?

Not per se. There are a lot of episodes I wish I had written because they are so freaking good, but those inspire me, not make me jealous.

That John Cleese episode, by the way, was written by Peter Casey & David Lee. And it’s one of my all-time favorite episodes of CHEERS.

And finally, Toby O'B queries:

If 'Brockmire' came calling, would you appear as yourself on the show [if there's another season?] Have you ever worked with any Jim Brockmire types in your broadcasting career?

You bet I’d appear as myself. It’s a great show. Can I have a love scene with Amanda Peet?  From what I understand there will be a season two. 

I have known a couple of Jim Brockmires, but only in my minor league days. I won’t embarrass him by revealing his name, but one clown actually sounded like him. I remember listening once and this was his call (and imagine the Brockmire delivery): “There’s a line driiiiive to deep right field, off the Pepsi sign, and hey, wouldn’t an ice cold Pepsi Cola taste great right about now? Mmmmm mmmm. And he’s in with a double.

You can’t make up shit like that.

Have a great weekend, and I hope it includes catching my podcast this week with Kevin Smith. Just click on the big gold arrow at the top of the blog. Thanks. (See I can squeeze in a plug as good as any Brockmire.)

14 comments :

thirteen said...

I loved Movie Movie, but I see that the b&w film about the boxing manager is now being shown on TV in color.

This is exactly why you don't shoot b&w films in color and print in b&w.

Justin Russo said...

Friday Question:

I am re-watching "Cheers" for the umpteenth time (after binging "Frasier" again) and two questions come to mind:
-Firstly, as I am sure it did with the audience in the initial run, it takes me roughly half a season to fully get used to new major "replacement" characters (i.e. Woody and especially Rebecca; I always miss Diane). Was there ever an idea as to how the show would proceed had these changes not occurred (granted Nicholas Colasanto's death was untimely)? Do you think that introducing these new characters brought new life to the show?
-Secondly, was there ever a story arc or episode you regret doing?

Michael said...

One time I saw a stand-up comic who did a routine about sponsors on baseball broadcasts and said we're headed for something like this: "There's a Metamucil ground ball to the Milk of Magnesia third baseman. He throws to the Trojan condom second baseman for one, back to the Immodium first baseman for an Ensure double play."

I know that Mel Allen once inspired the powers that be to ask announcers to cut back on the plugs. To do an ad was one thing, but Mel could build a commercial out of anything, and on a football game would say it was a first down by the length of a bottle of Ballantine.

Lindsey Nelson's big complaint was the "home run" inning where the announcer would say, "This inning, Ken Levine is batting for Susan Stone." And he said the listener wondered, "What position is she playing and why are they pinch-hitting for her?"

Fred Nerk said...

It worked, an ice cold Pepsi would taste great right now.

marka said...

Friday question:

We've been watching Friends and I'm pretty amazed at how well they give all the actors an equal amount of screen time (well, it's not exact but....).

When writing how do you work that out? Do you count lines to make sure that over five episodes it comes out pretty even? Do actors (or their agents!) do that?

What about episodes for secondary, but regular characters - are they decided before the year that Radar will get one episode and Klinger will get two and the other episodes will be "normal?"

Brad Apling said...

Frasier spun off of a character in Cheers; Empty Nest spun off of an episode in Golden Girls. What's the thought process that makes this happen? Was there ever a character or story you and your partner spec'd out for a spinoff, but the network didn't share the same 'this would be great!" vision?

Liggie said...

FQ based on your podcast with Randy Thomas (yes, I'm behind on all of my podcasts). If you wanted to be a public address announcer for a sports team, what skills and qualifications would you and she recommend?

Johnny Walker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Doug said...

A Friday Question: Do you have any good Padres stories that you haven't already used here? You were with the team when they had an abundance of unique individuals on the field and in the booth.

LouOCNY said...

Bet that guy had all the Pepsi he could handle, too..

Those 'Hometown Home Run' contests are strange - you never heard Mickey Mantle, roger Maris and Yogi Berra being up the next inning, instead, it was always, Bobby Richardson, Phil Linz and a pitcher like Jim "Cancer Bat" Bouton (lifetime BA.092) due up.

Speaking of Bouton, one funny story in BALL FOUR involves one these promotions: The Seattle Pilots radio setup included one called, "Home Run for Money", and one day, pitcher Fred Talbot, whose BA was as bad as Bouton's, somehow hit a grand slam at just the right moment, and guy in Nowhere, Oregon won $25,000 - which in 1069, was a really tidy sum of cash. The guys in the bullpen immediately decided to send Talbot a telegram from the guy thanking him, and saying he would send him a check for $2,500 in appreciation. Talbot actually falls for it...for a little bit as least. Of course these are the guys who also sent Talbot a letter from a lawyer threatening a paternity suit...baseball players could be rough in those days.



Donald Benson said...

On the DVD that portion is in B&W. In the extras they note that the studio insisted it be shot in color for the TV sale; which meant a lot of special lighting work to assure it looked good in both formats. The first director of photography was fired by the studio because of the extra time spent lighting that segment.

Curious: The second half somehow has the look and feel of a 1950s movies about the 1930s.

Mark said...

One of the interesting things about the emergence of the terrestrial superstations (starting with Weigel's MeTV, Movies! [With Fox], and Decades [with CBS]) has been the way they pulled once well-known movies (the Flimflam Man, the Italian Job, pretty much anything starring Randolph Scott or directed by Billy Wilder or Roger Corman) and TV shows (Mannix, Police Story, Man from Uncle) back into heavy rotation.

Michael said...

Pat Hughes, the radio voice of the Cubs, does CD tributes to baseball broadcasters (Ken, if you don't have them, you want them). He did one to Uecker, with whom he worked for 12 years, and there's a "home run inning" where the fan is a little old lady named Myrtle Steele, and there's a home run, and Uecker yells, "Hold on to your gear shift, Myrtle!" Hughes talked about her, too, and it was sweet--and classic Uecker.

Dennis said...

Chevy Chase and Michael O'Donoghue collaborated on a screenplay similar to MOVIE MOVIE. It was to have presented a feature film -- a parody of sci-fi cheapies -- and a full slate of short subjects: cartoon, two-reel comedy short, travelogue, newsreel, coming attractions, etc. They sold United Artists on the idea, but the film ultimately was never made. The screenplay came out far, far too long and UA had their doubts about audiences being willing to sit through the thing at a length of three hours plus. Neither UA nor Chase was able to persuade O'Donoghue to consider shortening the script. O'Donoghue was notorious for insisting that his screenplays be filmed exactly as he wrote them. No editing and no changes unless he made them. Which is why O'Donoghue wrote a lot of screenplays that never got filmed.