Friday, December 07, 2007

Would you put MASH on your resume?

I’m always so heartened that my MASH posts are so well received.

A few years ago 60 MINUTES did a segment on writers facing ageism (ironic since the 60 MINUTES correspondents range in age from 65-211). One industry idiot suggested that if a writer had a MASH credit he should leave it off his resume because it made him appear too old. To me that’s insane. I could not be more proud of my association with MASH and the day I take it off my resume is the day I start selling Marie Osmond dolls on QVC. (But for the record, I was 9 when I started on that show).

How many television series have books and scholarly papers written about them? Although I must admit, I’ve read these and they’re a joke. They talk about the brilliant symbolism, our deeper philosophical and empirical meanings, the clever use of the Anti-Christ, affectionate homage’s to classic literature – none of that is true. We were just looking to come up with a joke so we could go to lunch or a story beat for Radar so he’d leave us alone.

But we knew this: we had the best job in Hollywood, worked with the finest people, and it’s nice to know that 30 years later the shows are still being seen and a whole new generation is discovering them.

My guess is a lot of today’s shows will also be around in 30 years. We may be watching them on chips implanted in our heads but they’ll be there. And the writers of those shows deserve the same security and compensation that we MASH writers have enjoyed.

Keep up the fight. It’s worth it.

Another thing I’ll never take off my resume: I’m a union man.




Thanks to Tom Straw and Alexis Fancher for the strike photos.

32 comments :

Phil H. said...

I'd love to put MASH on my resume, but since I'm not a writer (yet) it might be a little weird. Oh yeah, and the small part about how I never worked on the show. But I have seen jst about every episode, that's gotta count for something.

Thanks for the blog and keep fighting the good fight.

STBD said...

Everything is relative. Is the potential employer looking for someone with a winning track record and experience, or someone who appears to "get" modern tastes? Having MASH on a resume would tip that scale in one direction or another, most likely.

More bizarre, I suppose: people in Hollywood still ask for resumes? Odd. I'd think that would be the one area where reputation precedes a person...

Tim W. said...

That's funny, because I've been lying and putting MASH on my resume in hopes to get a job writing. Sure, I was only 13 when it finished, but it still looks good.

D. McEwan said...

I for one, am proud to have OUR MISS BROOKS, MR. PEEPERS, and DECEMBER BRIDE on my resume. I had nothing to do with them beyond watching them, but everyone who did work on them is dead, so there's no one to point out the credit is bogus. And assuming Betty White ever dies (Which I doubt will happen. If she were going to die, she'd have done so by now.) TIME FOR ELIZABETH goes on the next day.

Jim said...

Leave MASH off a resume? What kind of sicko... I mean, seriously. I'm sputtering over here. If I'd been a grip, or a caterer, or hell, I don't know, the props guy that kept the still in the Swamp in shape, that would be on my resume until the day I died...

Diogo said...

The irony of it all is, MASH is one of the less dated shows of the 70's/80's, because it was already set in the past when it started, and, the fact that it's in uniform does not date the show in terms of clothes and hair styles (although it helps that half of your cast was already bald(ing) I mean, even the first joke in the pilot makes fun of the time period, when it says, "Korea, 1950, 100 years ago". I also would be proud to have MASH on my resume, it carries WAY more class than those Aaron Spelling things that were starting on tv at that time, plus it is way more provocative than most sitcoms ever are today. (according to Belushi, anyone?). Although in many ways less graphical, because of the "cautious times" when it was done, MASH, is frequently compared to ER, (the good one, not the thing that's on right now), in raising issues, and statements, mixed in with portions of lighter fair, and even poignant tales. A class act all the way through (well, almost, those last years almost forgot the comedy at all, and that was not as good) but it nonetheless a testement to a show that can switch wffortlessly from a comedy to a drama, without missing a beat.

VP81955 said...

Great writing should always be something you keep on your resume. Play up "M*A*S*H," play up "Cheers" and "Frasier." Any producer who won't hire a writer because such credits "are too old" deserves to have their series canceled before reaching November sweeps.

Don't give up the fight, Ken.

Nathan said...

My last two jobs, nobody asked for a resume. They'd already printed my IMDB listing. And you know what? I've got almost 20 years as a successful Location Manager, and even though I've left it off my resume' for years, I can't get "Parking Coordinator" for Crocodile Dundee II off of my IMDB listing.

Its the first thing every producer asks me about these days.

blogward said...

As luck would have it, today I found 'The Complete Book of M*A*S*H' today, in what you US chaps call a thrift shop. It's a full-colour outsize souvenir album by Suzy Kalter, pub. Columbus 1984. Only problem is that someone might have got the spine bottom corner damp at some point, but it's fine now! It would be my pleasure to send it to you, Ken, if you would like to have it - it's got a 251-episode synopsis and loads of full-page photos. If you would like it, maybe you will send me a holding address to my G-Mail account. No correspondence otherwise expected! :)

A. Buck Short said...

Not to worry Ken. You look mahvelous!

RevJen said...

I have "part of a group that gathered each evening in the TV lounge for 'Vespers,' a service whose liturgy consisted entirely of MASH reruns" on my resume.

Ken Levine said...

Thanks Blogward, for that lovely offer. I do have a copy of that book. It's a neat coffee table book that actually does sit on my coffee table.

And I'm sure the author hasn't taken the MASH title off her resume either.

Thanks again.

Gail Renard said...

Not only do I include MASH on my CV, but my new nom de plume is Ken Levine.

Tom Dougherty said...

This reminds me of that quote from that nub that created Studio 60, damning you to obscurity for disliking his awful show.

It's amazing anything gets done in Hollywood.

blogward said...

No worries. I can keep it on my coffee table now - and it doesn't matter if I spill coffee on it either...

Andrew Wickliffe said...

I'm going through the Martinis and Medicine collection right now and damn if they aren't still great (even after seeing the early first season episodes about nine different times each). (Though I realize you didn't work on those).

I doubt anything in thirty years will be remembered quite like MASH will be.

RAC said...

I'd love to have MASH on my résumé. Hell, I'd love to have anything on my résumé at this point.

Dwacon® said...

I'm putting the Canterbury Tales on my résumé. I am a highlander, you know.

There can be only one.

rob! said...

i just finished watching MASH season six, which ends every show with your name, Ken.

i would imagine anyone looking to hire you that thinks writing for MASH is in any way A DEFICIT is someone you wouldnt want to work for anyway.

btw, we've all heard how much crap CBS put Reynolds, Gelbart, etc through during the first season when the show was struggling, but by the time you came aboard the show as a monster hit in every respect. did CBS ever give you guys grief over content or were they too busy counting the mountains of cash?

The Crutnacker said...

I have yet to figure out when older and funny were mutually exclusive. Many of the situations in Leave it To Beaver still seem fresh 50 years later. MASH still cracks me up 35 years later.

If I'm looking at a resume and see that a guy has a few dozen MASH episodes on his resume, and he's up against a guy with a a few dozen George Lopez shows, I'm going to hire the MASH guy.

Of course, it may end up like the Carrie Fisher story on 30 Rock a few weeks back.

Diogo said...

I seem to remember Ken Saying on an old post, that, as a joke on CBS someone decided to play a prank, in which they would make a show about trapper Passing away, after he already left the show, because after all they did not neeed the character anymore, and the CBS guy had a panic attack, because they were about to launch a show called "Trapper John, MD". Btw, I would love to know the story behind that show, because it sure does win the award for strangest spin off ever (ok, after the Tortellis). It's kind of insane even. I mean, the actors don't look alike, the setting is totally different, the plot is different, the themes of the show are different (I believe trapper John was set in the present time?), I mean, all they took from the original MASH was a name of a long departed character at that point. As far as I know none of the original MASH producers were involved in its writting, it was just market value derived from a somewhat obscure character at that point. it seems pointless.

RAC said...

Wayne Rogers was on a financial news channel this morning, and he came off as smarter than the other talking heads.

Just sayin'...

CarolMR said...

Wayne Rogers was on CASHIN'IN on FOX this morning, as he is every Saturday morning.

Beth said...

You bet I would put MASH on my resume. Personally, I would not claim any association with some of the newer sitcoms.

Anonymous said...

I forget who said that in Hollywood, you fail UP...so maybe people won't flinch from including credits from this season's crop of pre-strike groaners.

It's true that we worship youth, even when that youth is demonstrably stupid. On the other hand, Neil Young sang on SNL tonight and his band looked like the crowd that lines up for the early-bird dinner at IHOP in Boca, so there's hope.

Critical Palate said...

My 11 year old watched an episode with my wife and me the other night (the Christmas episode where Radar/Father Mulcahy get the toboggan (sp.?) cap for Charles.) At the end, he says "you're right, this show is better than Drake & Josh."

Now that's praise!!!

Go WGA, and Happy Hanukah from Massachusetts...

Malinda said...

MASH is kind of on my resume... hehe.... I was born on March 1st, 1983- which means my mom went into labor on February 28th- during the last episode of MASH. My dad was a long-time fan of the series, and didn't own a VCR. So they waited until the episode ended before heading to the hospital to bring their firstborn daughter into the world.

I have mixed feelings about the beginning of my life. And I felt resentment as a child whenever Dad watched MASH reruns- kind of like how one would feel toward the favored older sibling.

However, being the Christmas season, maybe you could help me find a sentimental, heartfelt way to say to my dad "Merry Christmas, and I forgive you for loving MASH more". Is there a way I could find something unique, special, and MASH related for him? I'm in the L.A. area, and my email address is littlestarshining@gmail.com. Let me know if you can help, and thanks for your writing!

Malinda

Anonymous said...

Was in Costco today poking around the books and DVDs when my eye spotted a huge-ass MASH box set that boasted a T-shirt and purple heart (or it could have been stripes -- I forget, it was a madhouse there). The set looked substantial and it listed all kinds of features which made me smile thinking about how much value and thought went into the MASH box set vs. all the others that are complete letdowns after we wait and wait decades for those golden oldies to be released on DVD. If the manufactures did a decent job and included everything they listed, I would pay the $199.99 CAN for it. In a heartbeat! They just don't make tv like that anymore. It's a crying shame, too.

Stacey

Karen said...

Okay, it's Karen Hall again. I have been told by agents -- NOT my present ones, I hasten to add -- to leave M*A*S*H off of my resume. I like telling that story because it's a good way to explain how insane show biz is in one sentence.

At this point, if I left off everything that dated me, I wouldn't HAVE a resume. Although I'm very encouraged by the fact that the late 20something execs who grew up with classic shows on Nick at Night actually have respect for writers who have such annoying traits as history and experience.

Carla said...

Wouldn't that be sort of like revisionist history to leave that off your resume? Now Me on the other hand I can't put Hickory Farms on my resume because they don't have stores anymore, well and it wouldn't really do me a lot of good....anymore.

Larry said...

Finally!!!!!! Thank you Ken for letting the truth surface. I called out my freaking High School English teacher when she started looking into symbolism of literature, movies and television shows etc... I asked how she could possibly know the intent of the writers (especially the dead ones) and she tried to tell me becuase scholars have written about it and agree on it... ha-ha! Victory is mine! My interpretation is just as valid as anyone else’s, I knew it!

angel said...

Ken,
Please don't ever take MASH off your resume. It was a quality show and that means so much more then ageism.

2 second story. When I came out to LA, I moved into an apartment building. Met a guy sitting with a bunch of people around the pool. He and I talk for a few days and one night he says as he goes to leave "I am going upstairs to watch MASH, want to come up with me?" (Yes, the modern equivalent of come up and view my etchings line.) So, it's all your fault that I am married for 28 years. :-)

Thanks.