Saturday, September 12, 2009

Photo: The greatest writing room ever

So I made this big 45 minute promotional video/webcast/shameless informercial to introduce everyone to the SITCOM ROOM seminar. Registration opens Monday. But in light of Larry Gelbart's passing it just didn't seem right to post it. "We now pause from our time of reflection to SELL YOU SOMETHING!" But if you're curious, here's a link to it.

And here's a photo of the greatest writing room ever -- CAESAR'S HOUR. The gentleman on the far right with the glasses is Larry. The other writers are (from the left front row) Gary Belkin, Sheldon Keller, Michael Stewart and Mel Brooks, and (from the left back row) Neil Simon, and Mel Tolkin. Even though they're not household names, the writers you don't recognize here are just as sensational as the ones you do.

I'll post my attempt at a tribute to Larry on Sunday night. I sure wish he were here to punch it up.

14 comments:

Mark Evanier said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark Evanier said...

You lie! That is not a photo of the writing room of YOUR SHOW OF SHOWS. That's a photo of the writing room of CAESAR'S HOUR. Belkin, Gelbart, Stewart and Keller never worked on YOUR SHOW OF SHOWS.

KEN LEVINE said...

I made the correction. They wouldn't hire me on either so I didn't know. Of course I like to think it's because I was an infant not that I wasn't talented enough.

Bob Claster said...

Begging to differ, but that was the writing room of CAESAR'S HOUR, which followed YSOS. YSOS was better-known, and more successful, but the legendary writing room (also including Danny Simon, Lucille Kallen, Aaron Ruben, and at the very end, Woody Allen, and maybe one or two more I can't think of at the moment) was CAESAR'S HOUR.

The show came on the air at a time when the only people who had TVs were the early adopters of technology, the rich, and the intellectuals. As more and more of the lower classes and uneducated got the sets, the audience share for Caesar, with his parodies of Japanese movies and sketches about psychoanalysis dwindled.

However, it's a great photo, even if it is mis-labeled! Thanks.

--Bob Claster
host, CAESAR'S WRITERS

Alec McNayr said...

Love the photo. I want to buy it and put it on my wall for inspiration.

It brings up a question, Ken... what would be YOUR "greatest writing room ever?"

You could answer that two ways: 1) name names, or 2) describe character types -- what mix of skills, personalities, and egos would make the best room experience?

Keep up the good work!

ks said...

Ken,

The comments following your post from the other day about Mr. Gelbart's passing are in themselves a beautiful tribute to him.

Great Big Radio Guy said...

@Mark Evanier...

I'm now going to yell that every time Ken's name is mentioned at a rally. :o)

Really looking forward to your piece on The Man, Ken. I'm sure he'll be proud.

Kevin B said...

So no picture of the AFTER MASH room?

RIP Larry.

Mary Lou Wallace said...

I'm sure your description of the photo is the only time that Larry Gelbart was said to be on the far right!

R.I.P. elsig (as we knew him on alt.tv.mash).

Kirk Jusko said...

That may not be a photo of YOUR SHOW OF SHOWS, but Larry Gelbart did indeed work on it. About a year ago I watched the 1973 compilation film TEN FROM YOUR SHOW OF SHOWS and remember seeing Gelbart's name in the closing credits.

Tom Quigley said...

Bob Claster said...

"...the legendary writing room (also including Danny Simon, Lucille Kallen, Aaron Ruben, and at the very end, Woody Allen, and maybe one or two more I can't think of at the moment) was CAESAR'S HOUR"...

Had the good fortune to take a comedy writing class from Danny, who sadly has also passed on. Both Neil and Woody Allen credit Danny with teaching them their style of comedy, and having had the chance to listen to him and pick his brain during class sessions (which he taught out of the rec room of his condo in Sherman Oaks -- and rewarded us all on the final night with cheesecake from Trader Joe's), I can see where a lot of the great comedy writing that went into shows like DICK VAN DYKE, MARY TYLER MOORE, MASH, TAXI, CHEERS AND FRASIER evolved from -- the geniuses in Sid Caesar's writing rooms.

TE said...

Somebody here might not know this, but The Dick Van Dyke Show, My Favorite Year, and Neil Simon's Laughter on the 23rd Floor were all based on the Caesars Hour writing room.

wv: doeiso -- order from a dyslectic square-dance caller

Harold X said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

That's the wittiest writing room since Ambrose Bierce sat at his desk alone.