Time to blast through some Friday questions. What’s yours?
sophomorecritic starts us off:
i asked this before but i hate watching good shows get cancelled. why doesn't cable tv just pick up the good cancelled shows that have decent ratings but not good enough for cable readings.
tbs almost picked up my name is earl but greg garcia said that not enough money was being offered for a quality tv show? did that basically mean the show's stars were greedy?
No. Stars, even greedy ones, are just one part of a very large budget. Cable networks usually play to smaller audiences than broadcast networks deliver so the fees they charge to advertise are less. And yet the budgets for these shows remain the same or continue to grow. There’s only so much budget trimming you can do before it’s just Earl in an empty room with one chair.
It could be argued that studios traditionally spend more than the license fees they’re given to produce a show. But that’s on the hope that the show will amass enough episodes to go into syndication. And those opportunities are shrinking as well. So there comes a point where it just doesn’t make sense to keeping making new episodes.
Lisa j. wonders:
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?
If an agent is considering taking you on as a client he’s looking to see how stable you are, how you present yourself in social situations, and just what kind of person you are. When he sends you out on a job interview, is the show runner going to call him back saying he’s taken out a restraining order?
Agents are looking for little telling signs. Are you nuts? Do you bathe? Do you have an ego bigger than Simon Cowell and Quentin Tarantino’s put together?
The bottom line, they’re trying to assess how marketable you are. I would say just be yourself, don’t come on too strong, leave all weapons at home. Make him feel comfortable. Remember, you already have a leg up. He’s impressed with your scripts. He wants to like you.
Also, the first thing you should not say when you enter his office is, "Hey, how about returning a fucking phone call just once in your fucking life?"
Here are a couple of questions from Texas 1st:
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?
I’m ALWAYS rewriting my shows in my head. There are some I come across that I don’t even watch. Others I still like and will sit through again. If it’s an episode I haven’t seen in years I will usually stay with it. Every so often I’m pleasantly surprised and an episode I didn’t really like at the time turns out to be pretty good. And in those cases, I don’t know whether it was better than I originally thought or the bar has just been lowered.
I will only provide commentary if someone else is in the room. And usually that commentary is how late the rewrite was and how much of a pain in the ass that episode was.
Are you a fan of any of the work of Bruce Jay Friedman (who turns 80 this year)? If so, what do you enjoy best - his novels, screenplays, short stories, perhaps The Lonely Guy's Book of Life? For some reason it seems to me you would have come across his work.
Big fan of everything. And don’t forget A CHANGE OF PLANS, which became the movie HEARTBREAK KID. THE LONELY GUY is interesting because it’s non-fiction. It was fictionalized for the movie. His play STEAMBATH is another personal favorite – God as a Puerto Rican steambath attendant. Who knew?
Happy birthday, Bruce.
From Michael in Vancouver:
Despite your objection to the CHEERS 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."
I would only do it if the Charles Brothers and James Burrows got involved. Putting those three geniuses together again – that’s the REAL reunion.