Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The rewrite night that turned into morning

Here's another sticky writing problem. We had an episode of ALMOST PERFECT where Kim & Mike go off to a resort hotel for a romantic weekend. But she gets sick and hilarity ensues. At least we thought it would. It did not. The table reading was a complete disaster. Nothing worked... and we had some really good food poisoning jokes.

On those rare occasions when that happens we usually just throw out the script and replace it with next week's show. But we had spent a fortune on the hotel set. Two rooms and a hallway had been constructed. And most of our regular sets had been removed to make room.

So this was our task: come up with a whole new story and script, and it must be set in two hotel rooms and a hallway. And it must be completed that night. I'm getting a tic just thinking about it.

What follows is the end result. Much of the credit goes to our amazing staff. Mike & Linda Teverbaugh, Dave Hackel, and Drew Vaupin & Phil Baker. Without them we'd still be on page 4.

One other note: I bet you recognize the actor we hired to play her former boyfriend.





15 comments :

Fox Cutter said...

I guess when your charcaters work on a TV show life imitating art is a good thing.

Over all it was a good eppisode, not bad for a night rushed work. You guys made good use of the sets and did some nice character moments as well. I really liked it.

Lane said...

I just got turned onto Craig Ferguson (insomnia rules!), and he is GREAT on his talk show.

Larry said...

Off topic but of interest to at least Ken:

GW Bailey is interviewed in the Onion's AV Club this week, and has high praise for MASH.

http://www.avclub.com/content/feature/random_roles_g_w_bailey

Now back to our topic, already in progress...

Brian Phillips said...

I am impressed! This was one our favorite episodes of the show. To hear that it was written that quickly is astonishing.

A. Buck Short said...

Thank you. I don’t remember having seen that episode, and now I got to see it in context. KL you are like a TiVo with feet.

I know he’s killed in some serious roles, but what is it about Chip Zien that cries out to stick him into a Big Bird costume, or that Thanksgiving turkey SNL stuffed Paul Simon into years ago? Or a pumpkin, or one of those wieners or a burger busking some cheesy eatery? Might even have been a vehicle to let the guy sing?

You even saved the flu. It must have killed you not to have been able to have Kim give Mike the traditional setup line, “Wait, it’s not what you think,” without interfering with other story elements? Was Travis’ encounter with the coffee table a foley bump or did she really hit her mark?

Not that you asked, but the only disappointment I had was in your choice of porn music – although your selection was quite funny and the plot line had so much more subtext than the usual pizza delivery. Oh, am I revealing too much? You missed one of the few opportunities outside of actual porn, and perhaps Seinfeld, to employ those otherwise little-used and under-appreciated Jews harp chords. There are still Jews harp players in the union waiting for that call – even if they have to fake ‘em on keyboard.

Not in your league, but I once attempted a similar save of otherwise unusable video footage shot for a promotional film for the Wellesley, MA public library. They had a pro bono producer and two-man crew donated for only a single day to shoot a 28-page script. It was like “The Great Race.” Forget boom shadow, there was actual boom in every shot – which made it even more ironic that none of the sound was usable either. No shot cut smoothly into any other.

The one saving grace was provided by one of the unusual services of the Wellesley library. In addition to artwork and music, you could check out small pets including parakeets, goldfish, turtles, a guinea pig, a rabbit, and a pair of gerbils. I tossed the sound and rewrote it as V/O from the the gerbils POV, taking us on a tour of their home at the library. Really couldn’t make that work too well either, but at least it gave us an out. Of course the whole video was crap! It was shot by RODENTS for God’s sake. All the framing was also from their POV. What did you expect?

Pig & Sty said...

I'll never forget that night. It was the latest rewrite of my 15 year career, but in the end, a pretty funny episode came out of it. Even though,I spent most of that night in silent awe, I appreciate the nod to your talented staff.

Pig and Sty

Paul Duca said...

Is that Mr. and Mrs. Teverbaugh, or the Messeurs Vaupin & Baker?

Mr. Peel said...

No Lisa Edelstein in this one? Shucks. But I'd still watch this show if it ran today anyway.

Ger Apeldoorn said...

I agree with the last poster on everything.. did Lisa get paid at least? Over here in Holland we would hav been forced to used her as well. Still, no rersiduals for her. Promiss us that you'll do commentary when a dvd ever appears. How about a privately produced one just for us? That would be a web first the studio might just go for.

Was the part written for Fergusson or did he just ad his own cockiness to it? From a writing point of view: was the slipping away from under the arm of the boyfriend written or added in rehearsal? How much was rewritten during the week? Did you ever write 'joke to come' in a script?

And yes, I would watch a show like that. One might even consider 30 Rock a show like that. How about a show about a group of writers doing a spin-off of a popular crime show? But how to find a premisse as good as 'the day she gets the job or her life, she finds the man of her life - how is she ever going to manage both'. I may have one about the I want it all generation...

accentpedant said...

Terrific, and the backstory is fantastic, but what is it with your shows and 'English' accents? ('Manglish', more like). First this, then Daphne's brother. If ever you need a cheap voice coach...

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

I never realized just how hot Nancy Travis was until I saw her in that tennis outfit. Ngong, ngong, ngong!

Brian Scully said...

I have had the great pleasure of working on staff with Mike and Linda Teverbaugh on "The Drew Carey Show" and they made it such an enjoyable experience. Mike and Linda are first class writers, damned funny and great with story, and also, incredibly nice people. Ken, I'm glad that we shared the pleasure of their work and company.

Real Live Woman said...

I finally got around to watching this. The "Pretty Woman" exchange is one of my all-time favorites from this show. I didn't remember that it was from this episode and love knowing the backstory now.

*tarazza said...

Man, I love Craig Ferguson.

Sebastian said...

Who would've thought that her former boyfriend is Bing Hitler.

Hilarious :-)