Saturday, January 31, 2009

The "Lost" CHEERS

This is my Superbowl tradition (even in Hawaii where the pre game shows began at midnight) -- to present the "Lost scene of CHEERS". It's especially apropos this year since NBC is carrying the game.

My partner, David Isaacs and I wrote it, it was seen by EIGHTY MILLION people, (alm
ost double the audience of the final episode of CHEERS)… then never shown again.. I’m not even sure if a copy of the film still exists. And after being buried for over twenty years, here’s the lost script of that scene.

Backstory: People forget but Cheers wasn’t always an enormous hit. The first season’s ratings (1982-83) were terrible…as in “dead last”. In today’s world both the CW and Univision would kick our ass. In an effort to get better exposure NBC asked if we’d do a special scene to be aired sometime during the Superbowl pre game show. Pete Axthelm (pictured), the distinguished sports columnist for Newsweek and gambling tout for the Peacock agreed to appear. David and I banged out the scene. NBC aired it…right before kick-off. Talk about a good time slot.


Enjoy, trivia buffs:


FADE IN:

INT. BAR – EARLY AFTERNOON

CARLA, CLIFF AND NORM ARE AT THE TABLE WATCHING TELEVISION. SAM IS AT THE BAR. DIANE ENTERS.

DIANE
Morning everyone.

EVERYONE AD LIBS HELLO’S.

DIANE
You boys are here early today.

NORM
Superbowl Sunday, Diane. The only reason for living…not found in a mug.

CLIFF
We’re early because we gotta catch all twelve hours of the Superbowl pre-game show.

CARLA
Started off this morning with the Superbowl Mass. Moved right into NFL ’82.

SAM
The next hour they’re going to trace the family tree of every player on both sides.

DIANE
Ah, the big game. An American tradition. These athletes will test themselves for all they’re worth. They’ll spit farther than they’ve ever spat before. They’ll scratch in places no man has ever dared to scratch. That is entertainment.

CLIFF
Yeah. Superbowl Seventeen. Or as the French would say it, (IN JOHN’S UNIQUE FRENCH ACCENT) “Superbowl Seventeen”.

PETE AXTHELM ENTERS AND APPROACHES THE BAR.

PETE
(TO SAM) Excuse me. Do you have a phone here? I’ve got the only bookmaker on the planet that I can’t get in touch with on Superbowl Sunday.

SAM
Yeah, it’s down the hall.

CARLA
Hey, you’re Pete Axthelm.

PETE
That depends on whether you want to thank me or hit me for my selections this year.

SAM
Welcome to Cheers.

EVERYONE EXCEPT DIANE ACKNOWLEDGES HIM.

CLIFF
Hey, how come you’re not out there in Pasadena?

PETE
I should be. It’s the last time I book a flight through Jimmy the Greek’s travel agency.

DIANE
Excuse me my ignorance, but I don’t know this gentleman. Will you introduce us?

SAM
This is Pete Axthelm. Pete’s the NBC house tout. Picks all the big games. He’s even right every now and then.

PETE
Actually I’m always right. It’s the players and referees that screw it up.

DIANE
Oh, I see. You predict football games.

PETE
That’s right.

DIANE
Oh what a worthy profession. I hope they pay you more than scientists and judges.

EVERYONE REACTS TO DIANE: “HEY, THAT ISN’T FAIR”, “LIGHTEN UP”, “COME ON, DIANE”, ETC.

DIANE
Pardon me, but it just seems ridiculous how you people place so much importance on the outcome of one silly little football game.

THEY CHIDE HER AGAIN: “AW, YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND”, etc.

NORM
So Pete, forget about her, tell us who you like.

PETE
Well, I’m still feeding it all into my delicate computer – it’s a tough one, but I gotta start with that great Miami defense…

DIANE
Miami?! Are you crazy?! That Thiesman person will pick them apart. You call him a prophet?

EVERYONE STARTS TAKING SIDES. A GIANT ARGUMENT ENSUES ON WHO’S GOING TO WIN.

PETE
What’s going on?

NO REACTION.

PETE
Hey, what’s the name of this place?

EVERYONE
Cheers.

THEY ALL GO BACK TO THEIR ARGUMENT.

PETE
(INTO CAMERA) Lots of abuse. I love it. My kind of place. You only find true peace at racetracks and saloons.

FADE OUT.

12 comments:

Nat G said...

Wasn't there also a Cheers segment done for showing in Post Offices? What other cute li'l bits might we be missing?

(Verification: capotelv. It's near Truman, NV.)

Anonymous said...

Great scene. You could use it today without changing a word. (Of course you'd have to find a show with characters named DIANE, SAM, NORM and CLIFF.)

I love this line:

DIANE
Oh what a worthy profession. I hope they pay you more than scientists and judges.

Just think, when you wrote that Hawaii had only been a state for 23 years. Have fun.

Jim said...

Anon- You might also have to change the line "That Theisman person...." ;>). What a great Diane line. I think I remember this skit, actually.

(WV: exoilin- a laid-off petrolobbyist.)

Jeff said...

That's good stuff. I wish I had seen it. Thanks for sharing it.

Anonymous said...

Ken,
I remember that scene vividly. For years after, every Super Bowl Sunday when my friens and I would get together for a game, somebody would always mention starting the day with the special Super Bowl mass. (Come to think of it, we are still getting together for the game and somebody -- me -- wil still say that line!)

Dave Mackey said...

Somebody's got it on tape somewhere and should YouTube it posthaste.

My WV is "mosivei" - a mild Yiddish oath. As in "Mosivei, what a scrape I'm in!"

Joe said...

Ah, yes.

I (dimly) remember this. That year the Miami Dolphins got spanked like a toddler at WalMart.

charlotte said...

Did writing a scene like this constitute writing a promo (and pay accordingly)? Or, because it was promoting a WGA primetime show, did it pay differently/more than a promo-writing rate?

I ask because promos for live-action WGA kids' shows, shot on the show's set with the cast all written for in character... still pay the same as writing plain ol' assembled-in-the-edit-bay promos. And all done by non-WGA writers, not the show writers.

How does it work in primetime?

Dan Fiorella said...

You mean they didn't even include it as an "extra" in the "Cheers" DVD box set? How is that possible?

KEN LEVINE said...

As I recall, we didn't get paid extra at all. We just sort of considered it as part of our responsibilities as producers. And we were thrilled of course for the promotion. We were probably idiots.

j gillespie said...

Aside from its "YouTube" existence- has the Letterman anniversary opening been released anywhere other than the 2 times it was on?- the 1993 Letterman NBC finale being the other

Mike said...

You mean they didn't even include it as an "extra" in the "Cheers" DVD box set? How is that possible?

Paramount, that's how. They have not given Cheers good DVD treatment. The first three seasons had a few interviews and/or clip montages (and Season 2 had a blooper reel; you can't tell me there weren't blooper reels in any of the other seasons), but that's it, and Seasons 4-11 had no extras at all. No commentaries. No interviews with cast and crew. No deleted scenes or specials like this Super Bowl scene or the "Last Call" special that aired before the last episode.

If this was just some average TV show, I'd say fine, at least all the seasons were released. But Cheers was one of the most-honored, longest-running smash hits in history. I've been baffled at its treatment. Paramount's gone the bare-bones DVD route with most of its shows (from Andy Griffith to Happy ays to Frasier), but with Cheers, it just seems to sting a little bit more.