Here are some terrific Friday questions from "Ruth". They're directed to my kids. So my daughter Annie has graciously agreed to respond. Thanks, Annie!
Just wondering if either of your kids ever visited on any of the sets of the shows with which you were associated in their younger days; if so, do either of them have any specific "stand-out" memories of those visits that they'd care to share? (Talk about a "Take Your Kid to Work Day" that would make the other kids green with envy!!)
I’ll take these questions because my brother is busy being successful and doing things that I don’t understand. All Red Sox questions still need to go to him.
Matt and I have been on set of most of the shows that my father has written or directed. I used to rate each show by which one had the best craft services table. In case you’re curious, Everybody Loves Raymond was the winner. There were a lot of weeknights where I went to TV tapings and worked on my homework in between takes. Some assignments were easier to do on set than others. Anytime I had to practice an oral report, it didn’t go over so well.
When I wasn’t doing homework, I was heckling the warm-up guys. There was one in particular that seemed to be at every show my father directed, so I picked on him mercilessly. Little angel that I was, I may have yelled things like “You did this joke last week!’ or “You’re already screwing it up!” That guy probably still has a voodoo doll of me hidden somewhere.
My brother and I also spent time on sets during rehearsals. When Matt was little, he went around the Cheers set selling raffle tickets for our elementary school’s big fundraiser. The tickets were a dollar apiece, and you could win a big screen TV or something thrilling like that. When Matt asked Kirstie Alley if she’d like to buy a raffle ticket, she handed him a 20 dollar bill. Matt looked at the money in shock, and then looked back at her and said “But Kirstie, you might not win!”
When I helped out on the set of Conrad Bloom, Mark Feuerstien asked my father if he could marry me. Mark seems to have moved on, which is fine. Really. I’m over it. I only die a little inside every time I watch Royal Pains.
A lot of time “Take Your Daughter to Work Day” consisted of me hanging out with the PA’s while my dad slaved away in the writers’ room. We ate junk food, watched cartoons and drove the golf cart around. The PA’s probably loved when their assignment was babysitting me and not digging through the garbage for a lost earring. One of those PA’s is now the head writer for WWE wrestling. But I don’t take all the credit.
Did either of them ever make an appearance on any of your shows ... and, if not, would they have wanted to do so on any show in particular?
Matt and I were not allowed to be in any of my father’s shows when we were young. My mother wisely decided that we should have normal childhoods.
Dad directed an episode of Dharma & Greg that involved shooting in San Francisco, and he brought my brother up north with him. While they were there Matt was an extra in a huge crowd scene. Dad decided (unwisely) not to tell me assuming that I would never notice. He did not take into consideration my powers of observation. In a crowd of one thousand people, I instantly saw my brother. Yes, I’m good at Where’s Waldo too.
Our names also make appearances in my dad’s shows. In the pilot of Big Wave Daves, the three guys meet at “Matt’s Bar.” Indignant seven-year-old that I was, I told my father that this was completely unfair and that in his next show he needed to use my name. My father kept his promise and the first scene of Almost Perfect takes place in “Annie’s Restaurant.” That became the hang-out spot throughout the show. So my name is often seen in shots of the restaurant.
I don’t know that there’s any show I would have wanted to be on in particular. I’m sure any show would have been a lot of fun…except AfterMASH.
Did you ever "consult" them if you were writing "kid-centric" dialogue, to get a reality check?
He didn’t “consult” us when we were little kids, but he often consulted us when we were teenagers. Particularly with the use of the word “dude.” I can’t say that I was always a huge help. Going to a private high school in Brentwood didn’t really make me an Ebonics aficionado.
More often, my dad would ask me music questions. It usually went like this: “I need a song that is the modern day equivalent of ‘If You Wanna Be Happy For the Rest of Your Life/ Make an Ugly Woman Your Wife’” So I would search through my CD collection, and play him a bunch of different options until he found one he liked. Come to think of it, this still happens all the time.
Hope I covered everything.
You absolutely did. Thanks again, Annie. I love you.
What's your question? And to whom?