Saturday, February 06, 2010

My Super Bowl tradition: The lost CHEERS

Every year on Super Bowl Sunday I present the "Lost scene of CHEERS". ( Tomorrow I'll review this year's Super Bowl.)

My partner, David Isaacs and I wrote those scene, it was seen by EIGHTY MILLION people, (almost
double the audience of the final episode of CHEERS)… then never shown again.. I may have tracked down a copy of the scene and when I do I'll post it. In the meantime, 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.

17 comments:

Doug in Dallas said...

Geat scene - man, I miss Cheers!

Scott Carpenter said...

Oops, Pete Axthelm is no longer pictured as he was last year. (http://kenlevine.blogspot.com/2009/01/lost-cheers.html)

I love this scene, and thanks for sharing stuff like this. However, I feel like I didn't get my money's worth. This *is* the web -- you could link to the old post and show us *new* lost scenes this year. I'll let it go this time, but I'm watching you.

KEN LEVINE said...

Scott,

When you say you didn't get your money's worth, you realize that means FREE right?

denzdenizens said...

For Pete's sake,Scotty...lighten up!(And yes,that includes your loose change in your pockets!)

denzdenizens said...

That should've been 'the',as opposed to'your',my apology.

Trevor said...

That was great -- and an awesome show. Thank you!

I'd heard that story about Cheers being dead last in the ratings for the season for years but someone else mentioned that it was just for the last week of the season.

Do you know for sure? I haven't been able to find the ratings for that season beyond the top 30.

Rodney said...

I'm not much into the Superbowl these days and I think it's basically retarded to celebrate commercials-it's that type of thinking that turns douchebags who sell useless products like Billy Mays into stars.

I've had a lot to say about a few recent columns of Ken's but haven't had the time so would like to do so now.

Ken was extremely lucky to get that Super Bowl spot for that Cheers segment (what-there's no DVD box set and that's not an extra?) and he is so right. Some shows take a while to find their footing-the same is true of Seinfeld, which has become one of the best loved series in history and practically turned Larry and Jerry into billionaires.

And it IS sort of a lottery, as Ken recently said. But it's also true EVERY great show or movie started as an idea in someone's head. From Casablanca to Avatar and before Casablanca. Of course it's easier if you have connections and whether you do ir not you damn well better make sure you treat EVERYBODY with as much respect as humanly possible (knowing you will fuck up royally at times and when you do apologize and acknowledge your mistakes)-for all you know the next person you talk to has the ear of Alan Horn at Warner Bros.-probably not, but you never know.

One recent example of a guy who had a real possibility to build something of an empire based on a book that generated interest is Tucker Max. Unfortunately, for him, Tucker Max doesn't care about being civil to people or about putting much work beyond the absolute minimum into his work. So the script for his movie based on the book I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell was universally panned by script readers and other insiders. That could have been fixed if he'd played ball and allowed other writers at the studio to tinker with the story. Instead, among other things he told Comedy Central President Jamie Tarases to fuck off. Well, that didn't go well word got around and that was the end of Tucker Max. No studio wanted the film it was released and tanked. And according to the people who saw it it was as bad as the script.

It's tough enough-and I mean it's REALLY, REALLY TOUGH-when you have a good idea or several without sabotaging yourself. Sure, the business is full of douchebags-just DON'T be one. Very few people have the type of financial freedom to treat people rudely. You, as a writer, are not one of them and likely never will be. And even if you are, you will be so much more respected if you treat others well.

Wanted to address that here because this is a current column and I've been so busy with things-including my new robotic arm (it's actually a dyna splint) I have now following surgery before Christmas so didn't get a chance to and I know this is going to be widely read today while that column is now archived.

As far as the Super Bowl spot, Ken was very lucky to get it but he and his partner delivered a very relevant piece for NBC-you can see that in the writing-that got the point across and the opportunity to introduce Cheers to a large audience that hadn't seen it beforehand.

Making the most of your opportunities. And knowing how to recognize them. An essential for success in any creative endeavor.

Rodney Peterson
Writer
Cutting Confessions-One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest meets Slumdog Millionaire (WGA 1218345):

www.myspace.com/370392338

gottacook said...

With respect to the value of having a good idea in creative (especially collaborative) endeavors: A few minutes ago I was organizing some old theater programs (there's almost 30" of snow outside and we won't be plowed out for days; I'm in the Maryland suburbs of DC) and came across a program for the first Broadway musical my folks ever took me to (we lived about 2 hours away): It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman in April 1966. The show lasted only a few months and was full of not-good ideas, such as giving the most prominent role to a Daily Planet reporter no one had ever heard of before, Max Mencken (played by the cast's only big name, Jack Cassidy). Yet the two writers of its book, David Newman and Robert Benton, more than a decade later were hired to script the Salkinds' first Superman movie, which as it turned out was a good idea. Does anyone know how they got the gig?

Perhaps the only good idea of the It's a Bird producers was to give Linda Lavin (in the role of Sydney, it says here) the song "You've Got Possibilities," the only tune from the show to endure.

A. Buck Short said...

OK, this Super Bowl concept popped into my head and I don't know how else to reach Doug McEwan with it in a timely manner as the one who might appreciate it most -- since when commenting on Tallulah's Sherlock Holmes review this morning, I noticed that last posting was almost a month ago.


MORMON SUPERBOWL - FLDS vs. LDS:
--- The Cults vs. The Saints.*---


* Wait, there's an explanation for the stretch. Evolution of a joke: Damnmit, would have been so much more cynical and wish this would have worked better as "BYU vs. Notre Dame." Actually using "Cults" for BYO would been so much more irreverantly and comedically, since FLDS probably wouldn't even mind. But that doesn't cut it, because BYU already has Saints in the prevailing belief title, and, although the team name evokes more that a schmeer of Catholicism, Notre Dame's front line never claimed any actual beatification to justify interchangeability of the designation.

And thus concludes are demonstration of how to take all the fun out of alleged comedy.

A. Buck Short said...

But not a very good demonstration of proofreading.

Scott Carpenter said...

dezdenizens: I hoped it would be clear that I was kidding, but I guess it's never obvious on the webs.

Ken: Of course. That's where I was hoping some humor would enter in. :-) Thanks for all the FREE entertainment!

denzdenizens said...

Scott:It's all in good fun,pal!

Paul Duca said...

Gottacook...I think it's more noteworthy to mention that David Newman and Robert Benton wrote BONNIE AND CLYDE.

Tom said...

Ken! My God, I remember seeing that when it aired. I remember thinking WTF, but it was the first time I saw Cheers, and I started watching after that. Must have worked!

Robin Raven said...

What a wonderful scene. As someone who has some episodes of "Cheers" committed to memory due to an obsession with the show as a kid, I really appreciated that scene. So funny. :)

Johnny Walker said...

Am I the only one who noticed:

"INT. BAR – EARLY AFTERNOON"

Then

"DIANE
Morning everyone."

I suppose, "Afternoon everyone" would not get across the idea that everyone had gotten there early. Lol.

Anyways, I really want to know: Did this promotion cause a ratings bump? Was it an important part of Cheers's history? Thanks!

Good Movie Guru said...

hey how can we watch "Uncle Sam Malone"?? thanks!!