Tuesday, October 02, 2007


Thanks to all of you who participated in the teleseminar. I hope my answers were as good as your questions.

Happy for any feedback in the comments section.

For everyone else, please continue down to the actual (hopefully) entertaining post.




Jim Endecott said...

Great fun Ken. I listened on the bus on the way home. Thank you so much for your time.

No specific comments other than the fact that you inspire me to write and keep writing.

Thanks again.


The Crutnacker said...

What I could hear was entertaining. It's my anniversary today and I had to bounce in and out. I had to log off before the end. Did you name any more names besides Linda Lavin and MTM?

Rob From Louisville

R.A. Porter said...

Thanks, Ken. I'm constantly amazed at how much time you put in for those of us who want to break into writing. The seminar was great.

I'm sure there's a clever ulterior motive in it for you. Maybe you're hoping if enough people are writing you can make the logical leap in front of the camera and be the next Adrian Zmed.

Dhppy said...

Well, I got my name mentioned good and early so after 8 minutes I clicked off. Was there are lot more? I kid. I kid. It was fun.

I thought the tips on farce were great. My favorite episodes of Cheers and Frasier are farcical: Woody and Kelly's wedding, the party with David Hyde Pierce as Cyrano who mistakenly thought Frasier had impregnated Daphne, and the Frasier episode where everyone was chasing after the wrong person on a ski weekend.

I'm also glad to hear some good words about Shelley Long. I just don't see that many actresses out there with her kind of timing.

Let us locals know when you feel like holding an impromptu discussion at the Starbucks on Wilshire and Santa Monica (I hear their sales are down since CAA moved, they must have plenty of room).

Diogo said...

Hi Ken

I got so thrilled when Dan actually picked my question about farce in comedy. you gave some very entertaining and insightfull answers. I only regret that I only got to listen to about 75 minutes of it before my cell phone went off credit. calling from Portugal, it costs a little bit more. I just got off when you were finishing praising Ted Danson and Alan Alda, and were about to name the "bad names". I guess there's a moral in there somewhere. I hope I didn't miss too much during the rest of the call, but it was certainly worth it. I'd love to be one of the 3 contenders for the new sitcom room (for the surprise hookers alone), but with the trip there and back it would cost me about the price of selling my mother and my grandmother, and I might have to throw someone else in the mix there. Anyway, It was a real treat to have you answer my question, and I apreciated all the insight and laughs I got during the call.

Sebastian said...

Thanks to Skype the whole thing cost me a measly 1€ to call in at 1am here from Germany.

I am almost through reading all previous posts since 2005 so I thought that you basically repeated what you said in previous posts (sans the writer's strike discussion) Unfortunately my PC froze around 55 minutes into the whole shebang so I missed the last couple of minutes which I fear contained stuff I hadn't heard before. I basically was interrupted giggling about the fee discussion considering TSR.

What I liked was the additional insight into the Sitcom Room.

I had a lot of fun and as a true fan of ye olde type sitcom I feel this hour of my life is more valuable than my whole 10 season DVD-set of "Frasier", which has absolutely no extras. This was basically what I would shell out 30 bucks for to get as additional stuff to a season box set. I am not much of a writer (I think) but still write for an online mag now and then about sci-fi. It's great that you take care of your fellow sitcom writers like this. I'd love to write comedy or fiction but basically I am too much of a nerd to write funny stuff :-/ (though I tend to be good with words). So I stick to blogging/articles about TV shows and that's why I like reading this blog so much. It is about what I love most on TV (sitcoms), it is critical about what's on TV and additionally it's about baseball, which I also love. Hell I even read the travelogues :-)

It's just a lot of fun and the teleseminar made me feel connected :-) Great stuff :-) I hope I didn't rob an aspiring writer of a slot, that's the only fear I had - but then again sometimes you have to be a little selfish to experience the great things in life :-)

Thanks again for hosting this. I'd love to get this posted as an audiofile so if you recorded it - you know how to post audio to the site, Ken ;-)

Wally said...

I thought it was a terrrific teleseminar, and while it didn't explain the Mets' Epic Collapse, there was a lot about writing and the business to be gleamed. So, a non-snarky thank you.

Oh, and Dan: Thank you for hosting. Best. Teleseminar. Hosting. Ever.

Dan O'Day said...

Ken: Wally to attend Sitcom Room for free.

Dan O'Day said...

(Sorry, guys: Computer glitch uploaded my message before I could finish.)

KEN: Wally gets to attend Sitcom Room II for free. I can recognize talent when I see it on a blog.

The Crutnacker said...

Sadly, there was no mention of Helen Mirren in the whole call.

the third coast said...

The teleseminar was great, Ken and Dan. I would love to do the Sitcom Room experience sometime in the future. It sounds like a blast!

Now I just have to get used to "hearing" Ken Le-Vine in my head rather than Ken Le-Veen when I see your name.

RAC said...

Didn't work for me, technical issues? So I hope it was recorded as an Mp3 by someone willing to share... anyone?

Dhppy said...

I, too, was surprised, to find out that it was Le - VINE. I also didn't know it was ES-pen-son. If I find that I've been pronouncing Dan (our great and talented host's) name wrong, then I give up.

rac, did you call in early then hang up when the recording said that the host hadn't arrived and so the conference couldn't start? I did that at first, but then held the line the second time.

Fred Garvin said...

I loved it... Thanks again Ken and Dan. If you do it again, I am in! Also, I am now convinced that I NEED the sitcom room, so I've decided to sell my major organs to raise funds... Anyone need a kidney? I kid of course, but I'm not beyond prostituting myself. If you have friends who need a male prostitute please send them my way…

The Crutnacker said...

Top Surprises from yesterday's call:

Ken calling Kelsey Grammer a no talent hack who slept his way to the top.

Ken saying that Eddie the Dog was the real reason Frasier lasted 38 seasons.

The story of MTM storming off the set of her show with Ken after a dressing room confrontation with Ken in which he wanted her to wear tight capri pants and say, "Oh Kennnnnnn!"

Ken changed his name from O'Flannigan to Levine in the early 70s.

Levine is pronounced, "Smith".

Ken still hasn't told his wife what he does for a living out of embarassment. She thinks he's a drug dealer.

Responsible for the horrible string of luck my beloved Baltimore Orioles have had since he announced for them.

Dan O'Day is actually Alan O'Day, creator of the possibly best song of the 70's, Undercover Angel.

In order to break into the business, Dan and Ken had to share writing credit on several of their early episodes with Morris Levy.

The part of Ken in the call was actually played by Ted McGinley.

The Sitcom Room will soon be replaced by Sitcom Fantasy Camp.

The original fee for the Sitcom Room was $10,000 up front, and a sliding payment for each time that you use something you learn there for the next five years.

sjwoo said...


The triumvrate was completed by Lauren Graham, of Gilmore Girls fame.

For the first fifteen minutes or so, I was in shock and awe. But in a non-bombing, non-Cheney sort of way, of course. I couldn't believe I was on a call with one of the two guys who wrote some of my favorite Cheers and Frasier and Simpsons episodes, not to mention the location manager for Jurassic Park and The River Wild.

I don't have aspirations of becoming a sitcom writer, simply because I'm not funny enough, but I love good TV and love the blog so I naturally loved the call. If you hold one a week, Ken, you'll be guaranteed of at least filling one of those 150 seats.

In preparation for the call, I watched the first two episodes of Back to You, just to get into the flow of the sitcom again, as I don't watch new ones (I do, however, watch syndicated Frasiers still). Solid show with solid laughs -- the goldfish bit worked over and over again in the second show, which surprised me when I think back to it. The shtick worked right up to the very last one (the door opens, the bowl goes flying), and maybe it worked the best of all of them because I didn't expect it.

I do have a suggestion for a future call, Ken -- that you have us all see a sitcom show and then you take it apart. I'm sure we'd learn from a good episode, and we'd probably learn even more from a bad one.

- Sung

J.D. said...

Thanks for pulling this together, for offering your time and experience. Incredibly generous of you!! The format worked well, Dan kinda acting as "interviewer" of Ken. I really appreciated the insights about the possible strike. I may be on the minority on this: I would rather have spent the last ten minutes hearing more meaningful questions and answers than the "naming names." Don't get me wrong, I wasn't offended by it. Just doesn't help me write a good show.

Anonymous said...


Great to hear your actual voice so when I'm reading the blog, I'll hear your voice (for better or worse). Next time though, can you use your baseball announcer's voice instead? Big baseball fan and DJ/MC as well....Think the Phillies have any shot?

It was insightful and I truly appreciate your dedication to helping others.

BUT...... Since nobody has any guts to actually say anything constructive, I will....

1) Shorter answers so there can be more questions...

2) 1 question per person - 1 guy got 2 questions answered and didn't even follow the instructions (City??? c'mon Dan...)

3) If something is/was covered in the blog, refer to that rather than rehashing everything again. Noticed that about 3 times....

Again, huge fan + very appreciative of your time + efforts.


John "the Polish Kielbasa King" of Philadelphia

Go Phillies!!!

RAC said...

Since no one seems to have a recording for me, could someone just give me Ken's home address? I'll go ask him some questions in person. Heh.

Ben K. said...

Thanks, Ken and Dan. That was fun and informative, as always.

I was surprised to hear that the second Sitcom Room isn't full yet. For anyone who's on the fence, I participated in the first one and I highly recommend it.

Juancho said...

Dan O'Day, you have a great voice. You should fill in on Fresh Air for Terry Gross.

I got a lot of inspiration on what to put together to send out for specs. I was a little surprised that you said not to write animation, because I feel like I've been living with the characters on The Simpsons for years, and I really wanted to something with them.

R.A. Porter said...

I'm with Ben K. I was also in the first Sitcom Room and could not recommend it more strongly. You'll find out in 36-40 hours if writing for television is for you.

Ken Levine said...

Some good thoughts and suggestions. Thanks.

Shorter answers, more questions: next time for sure.

And to think, we were worried that I would go through those questions and still have 49 minutes left.

As for repeating stuff that appeared in previous posts, as much as I would like to believe that people go back and read through my archives, the reality is very very few people do. Golden pearls from fifteen months ago are buried. And I've gotten a lot of new readers. So there are times when I'll re-answer questions from previous posts and even re-post some things during weekends, but never anything that wasn't originally posted at least a year ago.

As NBC used to say about its reruns: If you haven't seen it, it's new to you.

Thanks again everybody. Keep the comments comin'.

Dan O'Day said...


* Actually, Alan O'Day appears to live somewhere near me. Every now and then I'll get a call intended for him.

* As a disc jockey, I was forced...uh, had the privilege of playing that song many times.

The Sitcom Room will soon be replaced by Sitcom Fantasy Camp.

What a great idea! "Have you always wondered what it would be like to attend The Sitcom Room but couldn't bring yourself to pay the outrageous tuition? Well, now you can experience a simulation of what it probably is like, at just a fraction of the cost...."

Benjy K. said...

Thanks, Ken. I had a great time with it. It was definitely a unique experience. It's fun to tell people "I have to go, I have a teleseminar to attend."

It was really entertaining and very informative, which is great. The one thing I would change, if I were to change anything, is to name less names. I think someone else said this, but I'd rather hear more about writing than about who was easy or hard to work with.

My one regret is that I came into the discussion about three minutes late, and I think I missed my question! If it wasn't mine, it was definitely on the same topic. But ah well. The rest was still amazing, so it worked out just fine.

Foley said...

First, thanks for taking the time and the effort to talk to me/us. I really enjoyed it, more than I thought I would, maybe even more than I hoped I would.

It's nice to know which actor's hard to work with and which isn't (and nice to hear that one of my favourites, David Hyde Pierce, is the latter). But personally, I would've preferred more discussion along the lines of the building blocks of a farce and/or nuts-and-bolts how do you do this for a living type information (which there was a fair amount of this time, but I can always use more. Apparently established writing professionals taking an hour and a half of their time to talk to a bunch of strangers for free just isn't good enough for me...)

I also would've preferred to hear less about the Sitcom Room, not because I disliked it, but because it made me want to attend that much more, which just isn't in the cards at the moment.

On a related note, those who critize the price of the Sitcom Room...well, they can't have thought about the logistics of the thing in any kind of depth. I'm 100% certain you could charge substantially more for the experience you (and former participants) describe without losing much, if any, interest. That you choose to keep the price as low as you do just makes an already admirable endeavour even moreso.

Anyway. Thanks again to both you and Mr. O'Day.


Scott said...

It is not a great possibility that I will ever write the great American sitcom, or be part of a professional comedy writing room, but somehow Ken, listening to you, you leave the door open, the windows cracked, and the air conditioner running. Hope is still alive.
The teleseminar was great, and thankfully the kids stayed quiet for the hour. Very informative (and entertaining). And Dan did a good job of moderating (it's a thankless job)

Yes, I'm stilling hoping against hope that you'll do a SitCom Fantasy Camp in NY.
But until you do my invite to take you to lunch next time you are in is still open...


The Crutnacker said...

My thought for the Sitcom Fantasy camp was like Rock and Roll Fantasy camp, with a bunch of middle age white guys in sweaty headbands working side by side with washed up sitcom writers (and a member of Grand Funk Railroad) from the late 60s and early 70s(obviously, this isn't Ken) in a week of intensive training, leading up to a taping at the end of the week.

Lots of beer is consumed and everyone

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed it Ken, though as a regular reader to your blog, I too found myself having a touch of the re-runs, with some of the material being very familiar.

I was disappointed about your current intention to stay in LA. I'd be pretty sure you'd get a good turn out in London - with the Writer's Guild centre or the Soho Theatre being good suggested venues.

Anyway, thanks for your time in doing this, and I hope I get a chance to hear you again soon.