Thanks to everyone who was on board for my teleseminar on Thursday night. I hope my answers were as good as your questions. One person wanted to know the worst network note I ever got. It’s hard to say because I’ve had quite a few to choose from. But these few just spring to mind.
On a pilot we once got this note about an actress: She’s too fat. Another actress note we received was: Her breasts are too big. It’s distracting.
Yeah, like we could just go back to the writers room and fix those things.
I was directing one of those TGIF shows that ABC used to run on Friday nights. In this episode the kid was caught stealing. The note: "Gee, do we like him when he steals?"
Another time I was directing the Al Franken sitcom LATELINE in New York. It was set in a big newsroom. For our network runthrough we set up a satellite hookup to LA. I had one camera and the poor operator had all he could do to just capture what was going on. The network note: "Aren’t we going to have any close ups?"
When I was doing ALMOST PERFECT the network wanted us to do stunt casting – bring in a celebrity for a guest appearance. Since Nancy Travis’ character wrote for a cop show we thought it would be cool to get Angie Dickenson (the original Policewoman). Our network liaison, who was maybe 25, was not excited. Her response: "Can’t you get somebody anybody’s ever heard of?"
On the ill-fated AFTERMASH the studio was pushing hard for stunt casting, wanting us to get Loretta Swit for a guest appearance. We told them we had spoken to her and she wasn’t interested. Their reaction: “So what? It doesn’t have to be Loretta. We just need somebody to play Hot Lips. “ I said, “Fine, I’ll place a call to Diana Ross right away.”
An actor once gave us a name note. There was a character in that week’s episode named Lana Lewis. During runthrough he said, “Isn’t that kind of stupid name? Can’t you guys come up with anything better?” I then introduced him to our assistant who was standing right next to him. Lana Lewis. In fairness, the actor is a good guy, and I think he’s still apologizing to her.
And finally, we wrote a pilot for CBS about a large family. We had a scene where they’re in one of those obnoxious Shakeys good time pizza parlors. The family gets into a big argument. At the height of their yelling the happy waiter comes over and starts playing his banjo. He is pelted with salads. That's the joke. That's the end of the scene. The studio note: “Did they eat the pizza?”
“Well they ordered this pizza and they don’t have a lot of money so would they leave without eating it?”
After my initial shock wore off I said, “They got it to go.”
“Okay, great. Thank you. Then we’re happy.”
I’m sure there are more stupid notes but I’m thinking about that actress whose breasts are too big and I’m getting distracted.