Hello from our nation’s capital. I guess they don’t answer questions here; they have “press briefings”. So here is your Friday “press briefing”. Hands please.
Yes, you sir. l.a.guy.
Do you still actively look for episodic work or did you make a conscious decision to focus your energies on other projects?
I’m having way too much fun hosting Dodger Talk on 790KABC and that’s a seven-to-eight month commitment (depending on whether the lads get into the playoffs). So no, I’m not actively pursuing staff work or assignments -- by choice I’m happy to say. But my partner David Isaacs and I have a few projects under the radar, including a pilot.
And I’m mounting an LA production of my play for this winter so who knows? As I like to say – I have a lot of irons in the freezer.
Who’s next? Jeff Badge in the back row there.
How many table reads are there on a sitcom, and how animated are they? Is there a lot of laughing? Is laughing/not laughing a political thing? (Any other general thoughts on table reads appreciated.)
There is usually one table read per episode although for pilots so much is riding on the table reading and so many important executives (“important” meaning the ability to fire people) that often times now there will be a pre-table table reading for just the producers. This seems insane but it’s not. It gives the producers a preview of what to expect and a chance to patch some holes going in. That said, I’m sure the day will come (probably next week) when pilots will have pre-pre-table readings before the real pre-table reading.
In theory they’re supposed to be just part of a five-to-seven day process, a way for everyone to hear the script for the first time and begin to shape the show. But now, Jesus. One show I worked on a few years ago was IT’S ALL RELATIVE for ABC. It was a co-production of two studios with a pod (non-writing) production company attached. After each table reading the producers got separate sets of notes from the pod producers, two studios, the network, and standards & practices. That’s about seventeen different people with seventeen different opinions, many contradicting each other. How can anybody do a good show under those conditions?
Hopefully there are a lot of laughs. The writers are analyzing what works and what doesn’t. The laughs are just one aspect of the show. Does the story work? Can we make a trim here? Does a character seem to drop out of the story? Are story turns confusing? Are big moments earned? Is this guest actor up to par? You get the idea.
I don’t expect actors to perform full-out at table readings but at least give a reasonable performance. Don’t half-ass it, don’t mumble.
And that brings me to my two pet peeves: actors that don’t read the script beforehand and worse, actors who EAT during table readings. It’s rude, it’s insulting to the people who worked very hard to make them look good, and it’s useless as a source of input.
You can’t believe how helpful it is to writers to actually “hear” the script performed. If you’re writing a spec, round up some actor friends, hide all food, and have a table reading. Or at least a pre-table reading.
As usual in these press briefings there’s only time for a few questions. But you are welcome to submit yours in the comment section. Thank you for your attention. Good day.