Continuing yesterday’s post, since a lot of multi-camera shows all shot on Tuesday – both at Paramount and other studios like Gower-Sunset, Raleigh, and Ren-Mar – the writing staffs and casts from these shows began stopping off at the Columbia Bar & Grill for an after-filming drink. The C-BAG (as it was known) is now Pinoit on the corner of Gower and Sunset.
But there was a golden period in the late 80s through late 90s where this was the Algonquin Table west. It was not unusual to be sitting with the show runner of FRASIER, creator of EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND, Ted Danson, Nathan Lane, the President of CBS, two producers from FRIENDS, director James Burrows, and Jennifer Aniston.
I’ve always believed that the best shows were the ones where the writers and actors worked together, not at odds. Being able to socialize with them once a week established a real trust. And their stories were always GREAT. Actor stories tend to be more colorful than writers’. Ours are usually horror stories, getting fucked over by networks or studios or spouses or doctors or American Express. Theirs are about hilarious anecdotes in the theater, filming mishaps, and who slept with who on what set. We would always try to steer the conversations in that direction.
The C-BAG was the place to go for juicy TV gossip and dish. If there was trouble on any set in town we learned about it. Anyone institutionalized, we knew it (usually because someone would ask, “Hey, where’s so-and-so tonight?”)
Interestingly, rarely were agents there. They were welcome. Anyone was welcome but Brett Butler. Agents were always present at the filmings. Why, I don’t know. They didn’t know either. There was nothing for them to do. They’d sit, bored to tears, and watch the monitors. I always found it ironic then when you needed agents you could never get them on the phone. And when you didn’t, there they all were at the ready in full-force. The only time I ever asked my agent for something he didn’t come through. Despite repeated pleas on my part he would not kill the network vice-president and his entire staff. So truly, what’s the point of even being there? But I’m guessing when the director yelled “That’s a wrap!” they bolted so fast they never knew everyone was invited to a post filming celebration.
Why did it end? The shows ended. And a new regime at Paramount placed far less value on writer/producers. The entire stable was either let go or encouraged to move on. But Tuesday nights for about a decade were magic. For any current showrunners, assuming there are enough actual shows in production, find a C-BAG of your own. And let me know if you need a designated driver.