Thursday, April 16, 2009

Did Hawkeye marry Hot Lips?

Here are some Friday questions. What’s yours?

rita asks:

It's "did-they-or-didn't-they"-time on the German MASH-forum again. this time the big question is, did Margaret and Hawkeye marry *each other* or did they marry *someone else*?

They married other people. We don’t know who. If I was Hawkeye I would have gone after Nurse Marcia (pictured). Hot Lips probably married Dick Cheney.

Someone who didn’t leave his name but should wondered:

Were you were inspired by something that happened a few years before your great "Cheers" episode where Sam pitches Piels.

A few months after the Yankees' 1978 comeback against the Red Sox, Luis Tiant signed with New York as a free agent.

He did an ad for the short-lived, barely FDA-approved Yankee Franks where he exclaimed "It's great to be with a weiner!"

Actually, no. We gave our casting director a list of possible names and Luis was available. Or at least sort of available. He was pitching winter ball in Puerto Rico and flew in between starts. The scene in question from a first year episode called “Now Pitching: Sam Malone” (that David and I wrote) was a TV commercial that Sam does with Luis, a parody of a then-popular beer campaign. Luis had maybe three lines. It took at least forty takes. Afterward, we gave him a little tour of the set and he said (at least this is what I think he said, it was impossible to understand him) “Hey, I’m going to give this acting a try”. He’s currently in between representation if any agent is interested.

And finally, from Dave Sikula (with parentheticals inside parentheticals):

I've gotten hooked on "Green Acres." Other than the production values (they seemed to have a budget of about twelve dollars, and everything is overlit [but then everything was in the 60s]), it holds up and is still an extremely funny show.

That said, I'd guess that all but a handful of the 170 episodes (over six seasons) were written by Jay Sommers and Dick Chevillat. (I think I've seen only three eps not credited to them, and we're well into Season 4.)

Would it be possible today for a team of two writers to have that kind of productivity? Most shows I see now have a huge staff of writers, assistants, and "producers." I suppose it's possible, but could you and David, say, maintain that pace for six seasons and still keep up the quality, or would you just burn out?

David and I could easily write five or six years worth of television by ourselves. The only thing is – they’d be shit. By season three think Jack Nicholson in THE SHINING. David and I wrote or rewrote practically all of season 7 of MASH and it damn near killed us. Contrast that to Larry Gelbart who essentially wrote the first four years of MASH himself and the show was never even remotely as good after he left.

It takes a very special talent to write an entire season of television considering the time pressures involved. David Kelley can do it. So can Aaron Sorkin. A few others too. Josh Schwartz I believe. It's a real gift and I hate and admirer them for it.

But having a staff of other writers is not a bad thing. Having fresh eyes, different perspectives, and different strengths can only produce a richer show. And keep the show runner out of the UCLA Medical Center (or at least delay his stay).

27 comments:

Rebecca said...

First there were lurkers, now there are invisible readers. We read on feeders and don't click through, so we don't even show up on your site stats. We also don't know what's being said in the comments.

So I just wanted to let you know, in case your other readers are ingrates who don't tell you often enough, that I really enjoy your blog.

cherry2000 said...

Spike Milligan wrote every radio show of The Goon Show, and it REALLY almost killed him. He tried to kill himself.

Kenneth said...

Ok, has nothing to do with today's post but since your a baseball fan hope you saw the new Yankee stadium. The old one was "The House that Ruth Built". The new one is "The House that 'Roids Built".

Richard Jensen said...

The one example that hits me is J. Michael Straczynski who single-handedly (Except for a non-arc episode in season 5 by Neil Gaiman.) wrote the last three seasons of "Babylon 5". And four TV movies for TNT.
When a friend who hadn't seen him in years looked at him and said "What happened?" He said "Babylon 5".

rita said...

thanks, ken! i knew i could count on your expertise. that settles another argument. and also breaks the hearts of all the hawkeye fangirls. well, such is life and in the meantime i continue enjoying your blog.

cheers!

majorburns said...

Oh no!!!! How can you do that to me! The world is shaking. They didn't? Are you sure? ;)
Please -- Pretty Please: They did!
Hawkeye must have married Hotlips!
or this is the end of the world ... the sky is already getting pitchback (or is that, because it is 1 in the morning) . ..

hawkeye4ever said...

I do agree with majorburns. How disappointing. I was arguing on the side of those who said they married each other. My rose-tinted glasses just slipped off my nose and shattered on the stony ground. ;-)

DrBear said...

No, I see Hawkeye as one of those who goes through two or three short marriages, keeps on chasing, then at about age 45-50 finally gets it out of his system and settles down with somebody you would never have predicted who just happened to catch him when he was ready to be caught.

By the way - a question for your sportscaster life: what does it mean about me that when John Madden announced his retirement yesterday my first thought is that Frank Caliendo's career is over?

Edward Copeland said...

I know they probably aren't necessarily things you know the answer to but there are two questions I've always had about M*A*S*H.

1) If Klinger's overriding goal was to get a Section 8 and get out of the Army, how did he get promoted to corporal in the first place?

2) Why did Klinger have his own tent when all the surgeons had to share a tent?

emily said...

To paraphrase the legendary Chico Escuela, "Basaball been berry berry good to you." But then again, so has TV. Is more comedic writing on the Levine horizon.
Say yes, please.

WV: sume
An invitation to litigation, "You don't like it? So sume."

Nathan said...

There are people who thought Hot Lips and Hawkeye got married? Silly people.

In truth, they carried out a torrid affair for 12 years and always caught the action on film (recorded on a wind-up, Revere, double-eight camera with horrible lighting). The results were always sent to Major Burns. Oddly enough, in later years, he said he had "treasured the fact that they kept in touch".

John said...

"Cheers" probably paid Louie Tiant less money for his guest cameo than it costs to buy a hot dog at Yankee Stadium this year.

(Want to have some sticker-shock related fun? Go to the Yanks' website and punch up a day they're at home and click on the ticket search option. See which tickets are the ones on the first page of the list.)

growingupartists said...

Do you collect baseball cards, do you resent having to repeat yourself in your blog, who's your favorite commenter because Rebecca obviously needs to know, and um...how long does Earl have to live?

Thanks!

Nathan said...

John,

I bought tickets yesterday for the May 4th, Red Sox/Yankees game on Stubhub. They show a range of available ticket prices for every game.

May 4th had tickets starting at $49 and going up to $17,500. Pardon me, but who the fuck pays $17,500 for one seat at a baseball game?

Chavez Levine said...

Hi Ken - Time for a Friday question.

The other weekend I watched a wonderful old John Wayne western. They say the Duke was always the perfect cowboy hero, but in this movie he got so angry that he attempted to murder an innocent young girl.

What kind of girl could possibly inspire a decent hero like Wayne to draw his gun and ... ?

Gilmore gal said...

Amy Sherman-Palladino wrote or rewrote all of the Gilmore Girls episodes seasons 1 - 6, with the exception of the ones written by her husband in the later years. This is why the tone and voice of the show remained the same.

Ralph Hitchens said...

The Sam Malone/Luis Tiant light beer commercial was way funnier than any of the light beer commercials I saw then or afterward. You guys missed your calling.

Joe said...

Riffing on that note, what, in your Official Expert Opinion, does it take to write eleventy zillion seasons by yourself?

Also, I noted that when X seasons of a given show were written by the same person, it's ALWAYS one guy, and never a twosome.

Discuss.

John said...

Nathan:

Did the $17,500 show up as the first price on Page 1? I did the Yanks-Jays series on Fourth of July weekend on the team's website, and the top-priced $2,725 tickets (no clue what the Stub-Hub resale price is) were the only thing showing on the first page (i.e., they're probably hoping someone really, really stupid or non-Internet savvy thinks those are the only seats remaining and actually shells out $10,900 -- plus Ticketmaster surcharges -- for four hours of fun in the Bronx with a four-seat box.)

Nathan said...

John,

Just skip the Yankees website...they only offer the most expensive. Go straight to Stubhub. You can mouseover every section, see how many tickets are available there and what the price range is. Much easier than starting over every time the Yankees tell you you need to pay $375/ticket.

(I got mine in one of the waiter-service sections for $65/ea.)

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

I think he did, and she was so hard to live with that one week a year he'd sneak off to a seaside resort to have a tryst with Ellen Burstyn.

WV: Punif. A pope who makes bad jokes.

Anonymous said...

Ken, it's refreshing to see a celebrity answering questions from public!! My question follows.

I've always credited the success of a role such as Hawkeye to the writing of the writers and the talent of the actor but NOT necessarily to the sense of humor of the actor himself (or herself) (i.e.) the actor needs to be able to appreciate the humor in the writing and bring it out well but necessarily be capable of coming up with jokes himself. No doubt it would help but it's not necessary.. Is this true? Did Alda joke around a lot, especially after the first few years in the series? [Was he nice/ easy to get along?!]

Douglas said...

Hotlips can't have married Dick Cheney; she's about 20 years too old for him. (Assuming she was 30-ish during the Korean War...)

If George H. W. Bush wasn't already married then, they'd be a perfect match. As it is, she's probably Mrs. Edwin Meese.

Anonymous said...

"Hawklips"... "Hoteye"....nah

The Kenosha Kid said...

Arthur Digby Sellers wrote 156 episodes of Branded. The bulk of the series. Not exactly a lightweight, Dude.

jbryant said...

Nice Big Lebowski reference there, Kenosha Kid (lest someone chime in about there really being only 48 episodes of Branded, and no imdb listing for Arthur Digby Sellers). :)

Anonymous said...

Just because Hawkeye and Margaret aren't meant to be together now doesn't mean they aren't meant for eachother ;) *ignores the facts and keeps on dreaming*

Bah they were the perfect match with the perfect love/hate chemistry *keeps believing* ;___;