Monday, October 15, 2007

Misc-takes

Hollywood is blaming the introduction of the video game HALO 3 as the reason why HEARTBREAK KID tanked. It wasn’t that it was a terrible movie. It was that kids couldn’t pull themselves away from their Xbox for two hours. Other contributing factors to HK’s poor showing: Mercury in retrograde, global warming, pies half off at Marie Calendar’s, new Britney Spears crotch shots on the net, Halloween pumpkins going on sale, and Oktoberfest.

It appears we’re heading for a strike. The producers’ position of “Take what we give you which is nothing and like it you assholes” is not sitting well with the WGA membership. No one wants a strike but remember the producers in the past didn’t just “give” us decent fees, residuals, health and pension benefits, and protected credits. Darryl F. Zanuck had the best description of what the studios and networks really think of us. “Throw that writer off the lot until I need him again.

Let’s hope cooler heads prevail.

I'm thrilled the Rockies won the NL pennant. Even more thrilled that they did it in four games. No more TBS coverage.

Another good reader question: “you once talked about some of the stupid things writers have to deal with, one being actors saying "but my character would never say that". If an actor has played the same character for years don't they have a feel for this?”

Absolutely – most of the time. And their input is invaluable. But some actors confuse themselves with the character or use that excuse to get out of saying something they think makes them look bad. Also, sometimes characters are based on the writers so it’s possible in those cases that the writer knows best. My favorite story on this topic: On HILL STREET BLUES, producer Steven Boccho was summoned to the set. Daniel J. Travanti said, “My character wouldn’t say that.” Steven looked at the script, pointed to the speech and said, “Yes he would. See? It’s right here.

Finally saw PUSHING DAISIES. People seem to be split on this show – either love it or find it icky. I’m afraid I fall into the ick category. For me it tries waaaay too hard to be charming, and it didn’t help that I watched it right after seeing a Salvador Dali exhibit at the LA museum.

Jorja Fox has left CSI. The good news is the show will continue. Jorja is off to pursue other projects and dreams, which is another way of saying Lifetime movies in a year.

Comic Steve Landesberg had a great routine on how networks cancel shows. You get that call from CBS Berlin. Imagine Hitler calling saying, “It’s OVER!!” Any guesses as to which new series will get that Rhineland call first? KID NATION is a pretty good bet.

How many times does Tyler Perry have to have a number one movie opening before Hollywood takes him seriously? If only he had done HEARTBREAK KID.

The answer to the question SAMANTHA WHO? is Jenna Elfman. That's who Christine Applegate is trying to play. Pretty good job on the body language, still needs work on the funny voices.

Last week’s episode of MAD MEN was the best hour of television I’ve seen all year. I’m bummed that this week is the season finale. Please don’t be like the SOPRANOS and go away for two years. MAD MEN must be the only series in history where the cigarette budget is larger than the wardrobe budget.

Jay Leno doesn’t want to be forced out of the TONIGHT SHOW in 2009 for Conan O’Brien. Conan, I have just two words for you: Deborah Norville.

And finally…

October 16th is the day I celebrate Thanksgiving. It was on this date years ago that I reported to Army boot camp at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri. And no matter what crap I’m going through on that date I always take a moment to give thanks that at least I’m not there. Except the year I had to rewrite MANNEQUIN 2.

32 comments:

Carlo C. said...

Conan might be the new 'Tonight Show' Host? Aw, that cramps his style. :P

However, though I love Conan, he's been really unenthusiastic and unconfident lately. Has anyone else noticed? It's makingthe show a darg to watch.
I've watched some of Fergusen, though - I really enjoy him.

Mike Rinaldi said...

Conan is great in the slot he's in. I don't know how well he will transition to "The Tonight Show." On the other hand, a lot of people didn't think he would succeed after Andy Richter left and he actually got better. I like him a lot... but I suppose he deserves more confidence. After all, he was a "Simpsons" producer.

Anonymous said...

I went to the MadMen tribute at the Paley Center for Media last week and Matthew Weiner said he was hoping to have the second season on the air next June! And you're right, it is the best hour on television.

Muhlyssa said...

I was at the Paley Center (although it will always be the MTR for me) event for Mad Men too. Last weeks episode was stunning, it's been getting better with each week so I have high hopes for this weeks finale.

I'm not in love with Pushing Daisies, it's too cute for it's own good. I'm also losing interest in Back to You.

Jay said...

Saw you on TVtropolis (here in Canada) last night on a show called "Tube Tales" talking about MASH.

Was this for our little network or some US channel (like TV Guide)?

Diogo said...

is it official that Jorja Fox left CSI? I thought that was still up in the air. I guess this is not a good season for beloved characters named Sarah.

Tom Quigley said...

Liked the premise of Samantha Who , (almost seemed like it would have been a good idea for a feature, and was wondering if it had originally started out that way) and thought Christina Applegate did a good job, but always thought she was an excellent comic actress. It will be interesting to see the twists and turns in the upcoming episodes as she discovers her past life and who she really was.

Off-topic, but re: Steve Landesberg. I met him while working on a show once and told him that besides BARNEY MILLER being one of my all-time favorite shows, I used to watch him when he would guest on the old DEAN MARTIN variety show on Thursday nights. He told me that Martin's producers would bus the audiences in for those shows and then serve them liquor to make sure that they'd laugh at virtually anything. How funny and ironic -- Dean Martin was actually sober, and the audience was sloshed!

Anonymous said...

I think what's happening to Jay Leno is freakin' GREAT... he's being pushed out by Conan like he pushed out Johnny Carson... payback's a bitch, Jay.

(Actually, I take PART of that back... Conan is being way classier and upfront in his business dealings... he's not hiding behind a manager who he "claims" did everything without his knowledge. Leno is SO pathetic. He didn't even have the class to let Johnny go the extra 6 months to make 30 years. What a piece of crap.

A. Buck Short said...

Hollywood is blaming the introduction of the video game HALO 3 as the reason why HEARTBREAK KID tanked.

I once thought I was taking Aer Lingus to Connemara. The Farrelly Bros. were at the controls, and I wound up having cunnilingus with Ann Meara. Sorry not only OT, but -1 degree of Kevin Bacon removed. But do you know how long you have to wait to try to segue a line like that into a thread?

Finally saw PUSHING DAISIES…. For me it tries waaaay too hard to be charming.

For me it tries way to hard to be Desperate Housewives. Not that there’s anything wrong with that….

John said...

Slightly off-topic Ken - I thought this story on Joel Siegel's memorial service (and his Christmas card) from today's Page Six in the NY Post was pretty funny (yeah, I know about Page Six in the Post, but this does sound true-to-life):

http://tinyurl.com/246md2

Jon J said...

When I completed basic at Ft. Leonard Wood (AKA Little Korea), I swore I would never even set foot in the state of Missouri again and would avoid even flying over if possible.

Anonymous said...

I actually believe there is some validity to the Halo 3 theory, although the fact that Heartbreak Kid sucked didn't help its chances. I mean, The Game Plan isn't exactly Citizen Kane and it's still raking in the dough, so lousy films often do make money. Hollywood has recently been wondering where the audience of young men has gone and while video games took a big chunk, I think the unspoken truth is that the all you can eat porn buffet called the internet is primarily responsible. I know if I had the internet when I was a teenage boy I probably never would have left my room.

RAC said...

I like pie.

Jennica said...

The Mad Men writers & producers are getting going on Season 2 in November. Next June sounds pretty realistic!

tb said...

Yet they are doing another "Mannequin" movie, just saw the ad, what's it called, 'Josh & the Real Girl'
or something. I guess after the smash hits that were Mannequin 1 & 2 another was inevitable, huh?

Van said...

For me, the voiceover was what pushed Daisies too far. There was a nice scene in a morgue in which the two leads held their own hands (since they couldn't touch each other), and just as I was appreciating the moment, the narrator came on and did a hammy play-by-play.

Subtlety is not a bad thing. Really.

Anonymous said...

"The Mad Men writers & producers are getting going on Season 2 in November. Next June sounds pretty realistic!"

Strike. Next June is NOT realistic. For any show coming back from hiatus in November. Not if they're honoring the picket line. Which they damned well better be doing.

Actually Ken, the best writer's response I've ever heard of to an actor's "My character wouldn't say that" comes (purportedly) from David Chase.

They were shooting "The Sopranos", and an actor didn't like his lines, so he pulled that nonsense. Chase replies (I'm paraphrasing) "What makes you think he's YOUR character?"

--SD

Bitter Animator said...

Hasn't “Take what we give you which is nothing and like it you assholes” always been the position of producers?

Hey but aren't most tv producers these days the writers? I get so confused now that writers are producers, actors are directors and executive producers, and rappers are actors.

Anonymous said...

My favorite "character wouldn't do that" story was on the set of Being John Malkovich, when Malkovich made a suggestion and the director told him "Malkovich wouldn't do that."

Paul said...

We'll take Tyler Perry seriously when he makes a good original movie, not a bad ripoff of "Big Momma's House" or "I Think I Love My Wife" that goes number one because it's during a slow week.

jbryant said...

Though I'm inclined to think there should be a moratorium on amnesia-driven plots, "Samantha Who?" had some solid laughs thanks to the writing and Christina Applegate, who is quite terrific except maybe in her more frenetic moments (the AA meeting scene, for instance). More promising than I'd expected. In fact, I hadn't even planned on watching until I saw a couple of very positive reviews.

Re "Pushing Daisies," I guess they want the narration to help set the tone they're going for, but the busy visual style makes it painfully redundant. I think the only heavy narration I've ever loved is in the film "Kind Hearts and Coronets," which finds much humor in the way the voiceover counterpoints the visuals.

Anonymous said...

What are the chances that the same people who found Leno funny will appreciate Conan? I never took to Leno. And I never understood why Leno would talk over his guests, especially fellow comedians who are trained to be interesting. No matter, he'd blithely step all over their jokes.

However, though I love Conan, he's been really unenthusiastic and unconfident lately.
Well, the writing on his show has gone down a bit in the past year, so of course, it won an Emmy. Frankly, the incident last night where an alarm and loud intercom messages interrupted his show, was some of the liveliest stuff he's had in some time.

Daniel said...

There are probably bases in the United States Military that are situated in even worse places than Leonard Wood, but I'm having a hard time imagining them. Sweltering heat, frigid winters, hornets the size of light aircraft, spiders the size of light trucks and the base itself appears to be surrounded by unusually insane Christian fundamentalists. The part that isn't surrounded by strip clubs, pawn shops and liquor stores, that is.

D. McEwan said...

Oh I can top the "Malkovich wouldn't say that" story.

Some years back a playwright friend of mine wrote a play in which he based one of the characters in the play on me. I auditioned for the role, AND DIDN'T GET THE PART! They found someone the director (Not my playwright friend) found someone he felt played me better than I could.

And when I saw the play, God damn it, he DID!

Another film with a great voice-over narration is DOUBLE INDEMNITY. According to the making-of documentary on the DVD, the narration was Raymond Chandler's primary surviving contribution to the screenplay.

I saw Conan's alarm-sounding wig out last night. It was indeed lively, and his decision not to reshoot, but rather just air his own mini-tantrum was gutsy, as it did make him look a bit like a prima dona, although not without good cause.

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

I enjoyed the charms of Ft. Leonard Wood in Jan-Feb of 1967. It was cold. How... cold... was... it? The water froze in your canteens. If you touched metal with your bare hands you stuck to it. We wore four layers of clothes and still shivered. Cold.

I thought Jay Leno announced his retirement, not that he was being edged out.

mcewan: Raymond Chandler makes a cameo appearance in DOUBLE INDEMNITY. Look for the bespectacled man sitting on a chair outside the insurance office.

The Crutnacker said...

Heartbreak Kid. When your commercials can't make your movie look funny, you know you're in trouble. It failed because it was poorly promoted in my book.

Strike. I had a sitcom writer/professor in college who said that the problem with the writer's union was it was tough to take seriously a union where the only way they could break your knees was to use their typewriter.

I've never seen a Tyler Perry production, but my understanding is that most are excrutiating for anyone with any taste at all. Of course, he makes money, which you would think have the studios crawling up his butt.

Daniel J. Travanti. Boy he's made some great career choices, hasn't he?


Jay Leno can leave anytime he wants. The sooner the better. His laughing at his own jokes, disinterested interviewing style, and his reputation as a first class asshat make him unwatchable in my book. I'll take Conan, Dave, Craig, Jimmy. Hell, I'd even watch Chevy, Alan Thicke, Pat Sajak, Joan Rivers, or even Johnny's corpse.

Jorja Fox leaving CSI. Big deal, she's always been the weakest actor on the series.

BigTed said...

I thought "Samantha Who" had a decent premise (even if it was swiped from 13 Going On 30) and a good cast, but extremely unlikeable characters and terrible, terrible dialogue. If only all the actors had said, "My character wouldn't say that!"

Jay Leno is not funny on purpose. He clearly discovered that the largest segment of today's late-night audience would rather be lulled to sleep by a dull show than laugh at a good one.

Annie said...

I disagree. Halo is clearly the reason Heartbreak Kid didn't do well....kidding, but I do disagree about Pushing Daisies. I loved it. Though in Creative Writing for the Media there were complaints that it wasn't nearly as good as "Dead Like Me." Tell John on Saturday. He has a fan club here in Evanston.

RAC said...

Hmmm... apparently this "Annie" person (above) has an inside connection to the wacky show business world of Ken Levine. Note to self: must kiss up more often. Ha! Hey, Annie, thanks for backing up those of us who liked Pushing Daisies! You're a brilliant young mind... (What? Too obvious?)

Sebastian said...

Hate to break it to you Ken but "Rhineland", as the name says, is everything next to the Rhine (the river). Berlin is at the "Spree" river and about 500km east of there. Our former capital Bonn, south of Cologne, is at the Rhine.

I had to mention that because I guess you'd object if I put Sacramento... aw I don't know, let's say the Hollywood Hills or something like that. :-)

VP81955 said...

Hollywood is blaming the introduction of the video game HALO 3 as the reason why HEARTBREAK KID tanked. It wasn’t that it was a terrible movie. It was that kids couldn’t pull themselves away from their Xbox for two hours. Other contributing factors to HK’s poor showing: Mercury in retrograde, global warming, pies half off at Marie Calendar’s, new Britney Spears crotch shots on the net, Halloween pumpkins going on sale, and Oktoberfest.

Plus the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks.

How many times does Tyler Perry have to have a number one movie opening before Hollywood takes him seriously? If only he had done HEARTBREAK KID.

Now that would be something to see.

The answer to the question SAMANTHA WHO? is Jenna Elfman. That's who Christina Applegate is trying to play. Pretty good job on the body language, still needs work on the funny voices.

To play Jenna, Christina will also need higher heels. Much higher.

Anonymous said...

Despite the fact that the critics adore the smug, overrated Letterman, Jay Leno has kept The Tonight Show at #1 for the past 12 years. He deserves better treatment from NBC.