It’s Friday question time again.
Here are a few that a number of you have asked.
What's your favorite line that you've ever written?
It’s from a CHEERS my partner and I wrote called “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before”. Sam and the gang throw Frasier a bachelor party at the bar. He enters and says:
What's your favorite line that you've ever heard?
From an episode of MASH written by the great Larry Gelbart. It was the one where there were severe shortages in the camp. Radar approaches Col. Blake and says, “We’re out of toilet paper. It’s gotten so bad the men have broken into the fortune cookies.”
Of all the shows you have written for, which episode was the hardest to write; which one was the easiest?
The hardest was our first episode of THE TONY RANDALL SHOW. We were so thrilled to get the assignment. It was our first script for MTM. MTM was like Camelot back then, and this was our ticket in …IF we did a good job. So there was a certain amount of additional pressure we heaped upon ourselves.
We worked out the story with the producers and went home to write the script. Did the first scene, no problem. Then we started on the second and realized there was no story progression. An event occurs in scene one and in scene two Tony goes home and just tells everyone what happened in scene one. Not great storytelling. So we tried to alter each scene to somehow move the story along. This became the chair with one leg shorter than the others. Over the next four days we must’ve revised those two scenes twenty times. By the time we finally turned in the script we were a wreck.
The producers liked the draft so much they put us on staff. We were thrilled. All that hard work really paid off.
We met with them a few days later to get our second draft notes. One of the producers said, “What’s with these first two scenes? I don’t remember them being laid out like this.” I explained our problem. Something happens in scene one. Scene two just reiterates scene one. He said, “Shit. If we’re going to worry about shit like that we’re gonna be here all night!” The rewrite was a breeze.
The easiest script we ever wrote had to be the “Room Service” episode of FRASIER – the one where Niles sleeps with Lilith. The story was so solid and the characters were so well defined that we wrote the entire script in two days. And probably 95% of that original draft made it to air. But things like that happen rarely. As in once.
Thanks to all who have submitted questions. I’ll answer as many as I can. And I invite you to leave yours in the comments section.