Thursday, March 25, 2010

Will there be a CHEERS reunion?

For you new readers: every Friday I answer your questions. And if I don't know the answers I'll either seek out someone who does or just make something up. Leave yours in the comments section. Thanks. One thing I ask: please use a name. Don't be Anonymous.

Anonymous wonders:

Hey Ken, have you heard anything about the Cheers reunion rumors?

I hadn’t heard but I can say this – not a chance. (I wonder if Anonymous is really Cliff Clavin???) And I’m glad. Reunion shows are always sad. Much better to remember the characters for who they were… and what they weighed.

Plus, good luck getting NBC to put on a series (ANY series) starring a cast of 60 year-olds. You’ll see Conan back there first.

From Dawn Marie:

I was lucky enough to see Harriet Harris recently in 'Present Laughter' in New York, and was wondering how her character of Frasier's agent Bebe came about. Was it written especially for her? Those were some of my favorite episodes. Thank you!

First off, I LOVE Harriet Harris. I was not in on any of those FRASIER decisions, so again I turn to series co-creator and this blog’s best friend, David Lee who graciously fills in the details.

No it wasn't written specifically for Harriet. We just wrote the part of a piranha-like agent and held a usual casting session. I had seen the play JEFFREY in NYC the year before and had thought Harriet was terrific. As it happened, at the time we were casting the part it was playing at the Westwood Playhouse (now the Geffen) here in LA, and Jeff Greenberg had her in to read. She of course was perfect and knocked it out of the park as you baseball folk say. She scored so well that we just kept bringing her back again and again.

As a side note, we used almost the entire cast of JEFFREY that first year on "Frasier." There was something about the style of actor needed for the Paul Rudnick play that seemed to mesh perfectly with our show. Harriet, Edward Hibbert (Gil, the restaurant critic), Richard Poe (Chopper Dave), Patrick Kerr (Noel Shemsky) and John Michael Higgins( a guest spot that eludes my memory) were all in that play. I think Bryan Batt was the only one who somehow escaped us.

Thanks again, David. Note: If you're in LA, David directed a brilliant production of FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM for the Reprise program at UCLA. Go see it.

DrBoodleQuakers asks:

On MASH, how did you guys come up with all those brilliant "Potterisms"? Were they pulled out of the ether? Researched?

No matter how many times I hear them, I'll never get tired of lines like "sufferin sheepdip!" or "What in the name of Sweet Fanny Adams!"

Most of them we made up. I believe Jim Fritzell & Everett Greenbaum created that character trait for Potter, and I suspect some of the original ones were old time expressions or bastardizations of old time expressions. Those two gentlemen had such an ear for Americana, colorful slang, and euphemisms for shit.

And finally, from DwWashburn:

I notice that some of your daily posts gets scores of comments while others may only get 5 or so. Do you ever get upset or feel like you didn't "reach" the audience when the number of comments are low?

I never equate the popularity of a post to the number of comments it receives. Certain topics will generate more comments than others. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re better topics. If I wanted a ton of comments every day I would just make daily mention of Patty Heaton.

Sometimes comments are generated by the threads you guys start. I often feel like a hockey referee. I just drop the puck and let the teams play… although I do reserve the right to send any of you to the penalty box if you get out of hand. No personal attacks or high sticking.

But I invite you to read the comments and comment yourself. Sometimes they’re more entertaining than the posts themselves. I both love and hate that.

What’s your question???

48 comments:

emily said...

High Schticking?

MisplacedLonghorn said...

One of my favorite Potterisms: "monkey muffins"

Dave Haber said...

I very distinctly remember Col. Potter once exclaiming, "Horse hockey!"

Was that in your mind while you were writing the paragraph about Potterisms and then immediately afterwards made the hockey references?

Cameron D. said...

It's usually the D-listers who've faded into obscurity who want to do the reunion shows and re-live past glories. I don't think Ted Danson would have any use for it, and no chance Woody Harrelson or Kelsey Grammer would have the time or the inclination to appear. But as for Diane, Cliff, Norm ...

Michael in Vancouver said...

Ken, let me ask you this. Despite your objection to the reunion show, if they did it anyway and asked you to write, what would you do? Would you say, "I want no part of this" or would you say "Well, if they're doing it anyway, let's do it right."

benson said...

For a guy who has claimed, at best, indifference to hockey, you sure do know your hockey terminology and it's proper usage. Probably a closet Kings fan getting on board the bandwagon.

Pat Reeder said...

I agree, reunion shows are sad. I still remember a horrible "Andy Griffith Show" reunion movie with Aunt Bea dead, Opie bald and Barney half-blind. I wanted to borrow Barney's gun with the one bullet and put it in my head.

BTW, I'm glad that you insist that people leaving questions not do it anonymously. I want to know their real names, like DrBoodleQuakers.

VW: "tutel" - How Paul Lynde used to say goodbye.

Simon H. said...

Dave: "Horse Hockey" was the very first Potterism used in Harry Morgan's introductory episode, in reaction to Klinger barging in and trying to convince him he was crazy. Unsuccessfully, of course.

D. McEwan said...

I remember seeing JEFFREY with the ortiginal cast in Westwood, but I've lost the program, and had forgotten some of those fabulous folks were even in it. To think I saw Harriet Samson Harris live from the front row, and for got her. what's wrong with me? (Short list, please.)John Michael Higgins and Patrick Kerr I remember seeing in it.

We all know what generates the longest lists of comments. It's when I make some innocent comment, and it pisses someone else the hell off, and the battle ensues for days.

sephim said...

Cameron - Let me guess, you're somewhere under the age of 17? D-listers? Faded into obscurity? Yes, this is why John Ratzenberger has done one voice in every Pixar movie since they've been feature length, because nobody knows who he is.

LD said...

Oh man, did you all forget about the "reunion" show on Frasier? It was Cliff, Norm, I think Carla, and a bunch of other also-rans from the bar that had otherwise not appeared as guest stars yet. They couldn't use the Cheers set so they came up with some flimsy excuse about the bar being closed for a private event and set the episode in a hotel party room or something. Pretty terrible.

Louise said...

I'm a huge Frasier fan, best sitcom ever. Harriet Harris as Bebe the agent was one of several instances of casting made in heaven.

However I thought the Cheers 'reunion episode' was pretty awful. I never return to it. It just felt forced. I'm wondering who thought it would be a good idea? It feels like a network decision.

Vermonter17032 said...

Reunion shows are usually sad, but that is mostly because nobody bothers to write any decent material for them, believing the sideshow aspect is enough to draw an audience. NBC may not go for a show full of 60-somethings, but then again, this is the network that canceled a good show like Life, and replaced it with the Jay Leno show.

Dawn Marie said...

Thank you Ken and David Lee for answering. The casting and characters of 'Frasier' were so perfect. I also always loved the idea of having the brothers being so much alike and exploring the possibilities of that, and playing off the father as the opposite type.

I'm trying to think of one reunion show I liked, but I can't.

Posted this in the wrong thread originally - sorry!

howie14 said...

I agree, reunion shows are sad. I still remember a horrible "Andy Griffith Show" reunion movie with Aunt Bea dead, Opie bald and Barney half-blind.

...and Otis on the wagon and selling ice cream to children.

One of the Dillards, the band that played the Darlin' Boys on that show, said that when it was time to shoot their scene in the reunion Andy walked in, looked around and said, "I guess we better do this before one of us dies."

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, we're all too familliar with how much Kristie ways, due to her never shutting up about it!

Barefoot Billy Aloha said...

NBC launched Golden Girls in the '80's with a bunch of 60 year-olds, and that worked out pretty well. But a reunion show or relaunch for Cheers? Heck, I guess not. But I know a Emmy-winning writer, producer, director and show runner who'd make it work great!

Tom Quigley said...

Ken said...

"(I wonder if Anonymous is really Cliff Clavin???)"...

Nah, if Anonymous were Cliff Clavin, instead of the idiotic crap he leaves on your blog Ken, he'd hopefully be leaving such things as "It's a little known fact there that once you take out the air pockets, Cheese Doodles are one of the heaviest substances known to man," and "Turns out that these days among the aboriginal tribes of New Guinea the most valued gifts bestowed upon a happy couple on the day of their nuptials include a bag of fertilizer, an electronic bug zapper, a bathroom plunger and your ever-popular monitor lizard in a jar... I figure the odds are about fifty-fifty that they all show up on Woody and Kelly's wedding register."

Just a couple of "Clavinisms" I came up with a long time ago (in a galaxy far away) when I used to write CHEERS teasers for myself as an exercise...

Mike Bell said...

Did somebody mention Patty Heaton?

Anonymous said...

How about a Cheers reboot with younger actors?

Michael said...

Buffalo bagels and mule fritters were my Potter favorites behind horse hockey. I do think in MASH's later years, though, they made Potter a little too cutesy with the phrases beyond the euphemisms for shit. It was almost as if there was one per show.

That reminded me of Jack Benny, and here's why. When we think of Benny, we think of a lot of different skits--for example, the Maxwell automobile or the vault. Benny used to use each one rarely. He said if you use a trademark too often, it wears too thin. Good lesson for anyone in any line of work, I'd say.

Trip Darvez said...

Ken - enjoy your work on Dodger games (and this spring training)...wondering who to e mail with the team to ensure you replace Eric Collins for this season. I'm guessing time is of the essence for this decision as well.

Anonymous said...

I'm a Cheers fan but don't care to see a reunion for all the reasons you mentioned. I wished paramount would've let writers and producers do commentary on the Cheers DVD, though.

Brian Doan said...

"How about a Cheers reboot with younger actors?"

Or, to go back to the earlier post, a CHEERS reboot starring the cast of THE HILLS?

Any thoughts on Robert Culp, Ken? I was reading on another board about his tireless work as a speaker and marcher during writer's strikes, and wondered if you'd ever had a chance to meet him?

Pamela Jaye said...

I read your last blog post, I did not read this one (yet)

I just had to say something which is totally off-topic, but you might appreciate.

but before I do, let me note that all episodes of Grey's Anatomy are song titles. (except for one ep in season 1)

This afternoon, after reading Grey's Writers' (the blog of the Grey's Anatomy Writers), commenting, and then realizing something, I was so reassured to see a post from another reader who ALSO did not catch the fact that

last night's Grey's Anatomy's episode's focus on Physician Assisted Suicide completely distracted more than one of us normally quick viewers from the fact that the episode, which including scene afterflashback scene of Dr Hunt's bad experiences as a medic in Iraq (complete with incoming choppers) was titled Suicide is Painless.

Now, after you hopefully stop laughing (i'm hoping you started) I should point out that I saw the episode title weeks ago, when the ep first got a press release. I just never - EVER - read the ep descriptions anymore. I hate to be spoiled *that much.* So I saw it, found it amusing, and forgot it for a month or more. Somehow last night, on my DVR, it escaped me.
This afternoon, I copied my comments from the writers' blog into Notepad *just in case* (they vanished into cyberspace before being approved) and deciding to save the file, went off to find out the title of the episode so I could title the file.
And then, of course, is when I got it.
I had to call up @_Baylink (who is still trying to figure out where he put down his MASH full series DVD set, btw) and tell him. Unlike my friend Kay, who I had to tell twice, he got the humor. In fact, I think the people three offices down from him are aware that he got the humor.

I pretty much only have one MASH related story in my life.
When I was a teenager and not yet watching the show, a woman I babysat for, who know I knew all songs and who they were by, asked me if I knew the lyrics to the theme from MASH as her niece wanted them. Sadly, I had not yet even heard the song.
And that's the whole story.
I started watching the week before Tom Sullivan guest starred.

Pamela Jaye said...

ps - I haven't thought of Potterisms in a long time. and now I am smiling.

I never really liked Cheers (at the time it seemed to me like they talked about sex too much. for all I know now, they barely talked about it at all. but I was very innocent back then) but I really loved Almost Perfect (although I did miss the fact that Gary's annoying wife was Lisa Edelstein, estwhile accidental call girl and woman with a penis on two of my other shows, and the reason I tuned in to House to begin with)

My tapes are scattered about the house, sadly. I may never again see Gary directing (and saying Now at just the wrong time) or the episode where Mike (?) was an Extra. I loved that scene.

Kirk Jusko said...

I remember the Dick Van Dyke reunion a couple years back. Morey Amsterdam, Richard Deacon, Jerry Paris had all died, so they attempted to pad the show with Jerry Van Dyke, who only appeared on a few episodes of the original series. But I enjoyed it anyway.

About that Andy Griffith reunion. I thought Don Knotts was funny in it, but Howard Morris just couldn't recapture the hilarious magic of his Ernest T. Bass character.

Kirk Jusko said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeffrey Leonard said...

The reunion show for "Kukla, Fran, and Ollie" was delightful. Great writing...

KEN LEVINE said...

Trip,

Thanks for your lovely sentiments. You can drop a line to Josh Rawitch or the Dodgers.

Trinity Moses said...

Uh, Sephim, you seem to be suggesting that the reason John Ratzenberger does a voice in every Pixar film is because there is some sort of popular demand for him. I don't think so. It has more to do with demand from one particular fan: Pixar boss John Lasseter, who likes his work, and seems to regard him as a sort of good luck charm.

Jim, Cheers Fan said...

I think the award for the all time sad/bizarre reunion show was the My Three Sons/Partridge Family Reunion (1977). So bizarre I had to google it to make sure it really happened. There's a long write up of it at TV dot com, but what they don't explain is how the hell these two shows were brought together. I can only assume that Fred MacMurray and Shirley Jones had the same agent and coincidental need for some quick cash.

Audrina Patridge said...

A "Cheers" reunion with the cast of "The Hills" would be great. Besides the fact that I need a job, Spencer Pratt wouldn't even have to act to play Woody.

Joey H said...

Doubt Fred MacMurray needed quick cash. He was said to be one of the wealthiest people in Hollywood.

D. McEwan said...

"Anonymous said...
Unfortunately, we're all too familliar with how much Kristie ways,"


You mean like her Scientology ways? Or did you mean how much she weighs? and who is Kristie anyway? On Cheers there was a now-fat actress named Kirstie.

Anonymous said...
How about a Cheers reboot with younger actors?


Oh my sweet heaven, what a terrible idea. The show worked due to a combinaiton of great writing and cast chemistry. A new cast would be a different show, and pointless. (I hope you're a different "Anonymous." I'd hate to keep picking on the same one. On the other hand, with that suggestion, I can understand why you'd want to remain anonymous.)

So were4 all the Potterisms really attempts at charms? We know Sherman Potter was Harry potter's muggle American uncle.

I remember the Dobie Gillis reunion movie Bring Me the Head of Dobie Gillis. It was a bit sad, and lacked the style of that great show (Please someone bring it out on DVD!), but it was kinda funny, and I loved that title.

D. McEwan said...

On the other hand sometimes I'm just full of shit.

D. McEwan said...

Okay, I didn't write that one. Some coward forged my name.

charlotte said...

Most bizarre concept for a reunion show ever? The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island.

Texas 1st said...

What is your reaction when you sit down for some good old-fashioned mind-numbing thanks to the boob tube, and one of your shows comes on? Have you found yourself rewriting scenes or making commentary (like on a DVD) to no one in particular?

on a serious note, What is your take of the new Web-only shows that have become popular, such as "Riese the Series" (why do they include "the series" in titles?) or "The Guild". Do you see them as worthy of notice, or since they are not on TV, do they fall beneath your notice?

Lisa j. said...

When a lit agent likes a new writer's script enough to meet with them (I'm thinking of tv writers), what is the agent looking for? How can a writer blow it/nail it?

Mac said...

Question:

I was curious if you'd heard about this ... a 'remake' of Cheers:

http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/showbiz-fraud-plotted-for-sex-20100328-r558.html

Yep - he pretended he was doing a remake of 'Cheers' so women would have sex with him.

And the sad thing is that it worked.

Mac

Wendy said...

Thank you for the hockey reference! If I remember correctly, you've made some small hockey-related comments before. Are you a fan of the game? If so, NHL or NCAA?

Chalmers said...

I still use "You wanna put your dinero where your dinner goes?"

The heavy in "The Harlem Globetrotters Go to Gilligan's Island" has an Oscar on his mantel.

Martin Landau was the coach of the "New Invincibles" robot team that played the Globetrotters on the island (by that time, a resort). Extra points to Sherwood Schwartz for casting Barbara Bain as his moll.

Inspiring work by Scatman Crothers as the Globetrotter coach. After being routed in the first half while playing "straight," he figured out that the robots would be confounded by the classic Globetrotter shenanigans.

ShawdyWhatItDo said...

People are constantly asking John Larroquette to reprise his role of Dan Fielding on Twitter and every reply gets a "no". A Night Court reunion would never work because there were too many cast members who were either messed up or went into permanent hiding.

Now if Larroquette could just get past playing a lawyer all the time, I'd be a happy fan. He's been disappointing me a bit since McBride and whatever else low-level network crap he's done.
I don't care what people say, Boston Legal was BENEATH him. He was too witty for that show.

Heather Moore said...

Ironically the MASH reunion show (or was it just a show where they reminisced about the show? What's the difference) was excellent. I thought it was great.

sophomorecritic said...

Why don't cable tv shows just take over cancelled shows with a healthy fan base but have slightly lower numbers than what's on network television?

i remember with My Name is Earl and Arrested Development they said that the show would have deteriorated in quality with the lack of money a network like Showtime or TBS wanted to give them, but that sounds like BS to me.

Sarah said...

I know that reunion shows are a mixed bag of emotions for everyone but I would love to see one for " Cheers". I started watching the DVD's again and I feel like enough time has passed for an update to the story. I do agree that it will be hard considering the age of the cast now but I would like to think that if the script is right that at least some television company will take a chance.

Sandy Elliott said...

I have been watching reruns of Cheers lately on the Hallmark Channel and I love it! I just watched the last episode that Diane was on today! So sad.

I think there should be a reunion with Sam and Diane finally getting married. They all look great still to me. They could run into each other on the street and old feelings start to flame up! C'mon, you know you wanna do it! ;)