As I head off to do another SITCOM ROOM seminar, here are a few Friday Q’s and even A’s:
From Sammy Glick (I love THAT name):
Who is Syd Field and what prompted him to write screenplay instructional books? Do you know of anyone who read the book and went on to write a successful screenplay? What did would be screenwriters do before Syd published his book(s)?
Of all the how-to screenwriting books, his have risen to the top. Not sure what he did before. He doesn’t have a lot of credits. Now he teaches at USC and Harvard and makes a shitload of money conducting seminars.
His three-act structure for screenplays is very sound. If you’re looking for a book on the subject, it’s as good or better than any of the others out there. Certainly better than those goofy “How to Write a Screenplay in Eleven Minutes” books.
According to Field’s website there have been a number of former students who have gone on to write successful movies including John Singleton, Kevin Williamson, and Randi Singer just to list three (of the six).
One word of caution: This goes for all screenwriting books. Use them as guides not the gospel. You do need sound structure but don’t slavishly squeeze your vision into one format.
unkystan has a TONY RANDALL SHOW question:
I was wondering why Devon Scott was replaced by Penny Peyser for season two.
Honestly, CBS wanted someone more attractive. Now usually the trade-off is looks for acting ability but I have to say, with no disrespect to Devon, that in this case Penny was better and funnier.
This year, Rob Thomas remade his show Cupid, and although that didn't work, do you think a show like Almost Perfect could be more successful if remade now, with perhaps a more sophisticated audience (if you believe that to be the case in the first place)? And would you ever want to revisit a previous effort that you were proud of and felt didn't get a good enough chance?
Actually, Robin Schiff, David Isaacs and I tossed around the idea of rebooting ALMOST PERFECT but it’s a very hard sell. Networks would much rather try something new. We also wondered if it would be as timely now as when it premiered in 1995. A highly successful career woman trying to balance work and a personal life was novel back then. This was even a few years before ALLY MCBEAL. Now there are any number of them.
The other problem for us was casting. Nancy Travis was just so wonderful and special in the role it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing that part. You spoiled us, Nancy, damn you!
There are a couple of unproduced pilots from our checkered past I’d love to see get another shot. I’d also like a subway on the Westside of Los Angeles.
And finally: From Alan Coil:
In regards to the number of writers on a movie (as opposed to a television series), I'm generally of the opinion that a movie with a large number of writers is likely to be a bad movie.
Does this seem to be true, or am I making a generalization based on anecdotal information?
More often than not it is true. There have been exceptions but what you usually end up getting is a mish-mash of styles. And if a LOT of writers are involved that generally means the script is in trouble.
What you lose is a singular voice and vision. You can argue that writers assigned to rewrite are better and more experienced than the original writers and in many cases this is true. Especially when a studio buys a spec. But ultimately, when is art by committee ever much better?
What’s your question?