Friday questions anybody??
James gets us started.
How was it writing for The Simpons vs. live action shows? I take it you didn't have to deal with stars asking for rewrites, and you could write a story about Homer having a pet hippo in his back yard if you wanted to. Was it better, worse, or just a different circle of Hell?
There certainly is more freedom when you write animation. It costs just the same to have Homer at the Million Man March as it does to have him sit in the kitchen. But sometimes that freedom can be a trap. When you can do anything, selecting the best thing can sometimes be difficult. THE SIMPSONS always serve the story first, which to me is why it’s still so great after 67 seasons.
I can’t speak for all animated series but on THE SIMPSONS we had table readings just like live sitcoms. So if the actors had a problem they did have an opportunity to express it. And although it always pains me to say it, often times they were right and the script improved because of their objections. Doh!!
My musings asks:
I very recently started blogging (just moved from New York to Zurich, so there's plenty to write about), and was wondering about your approach to blogging. How much in advance do you plan your posts? Do you have a general idea about what you want to write on a weekly basis, or are you more spontaneous than that and pick your topic on a daily basis?
It depends. The idea is to post as much as I can without the blog becoming a burden. The zero income I get from this endeavor makes that policy easy to follow.
I try to post something new each day but there are days when I’m just too busy or just don’t feel like writing. So I try to have a few non-time-specific posts in the bank. Stuff like excerpts from my 60s book and general writing advice. But most of the time I’ll write about what’s currently going on. That’s the beauty of a blog – you can serve it while it’s hot. I watched the AVN awards last Sunday and knew THAT’S my post for Monday. And of course reviews of AMERICAN IDOL get posted immediately. By Thursday no one even remembers they saw the show.
The challenge is to keep thinking of new things to write about. I’m surprised I didn’t run out of topics by 2007.
A lot of you have said you really like when I answer questions so I decided to devote Fridays to that. Otherwise, I don’t want to restrict myself and be locked into daily features. This isn’t the MICKEY MOUSE CLUB where every Monday is “Fun with Music Day” and Thursday is “Circus Day”.
And finally, from Scott:
It seems like a lot of people who have been in the business for a while say that this is the worst it has ever been for writers. I am just wondering Ken if when you were writing and producing shows, did you have older writers saying that things were much better back in their day and that it just seems to be getting worse?
Writers always think that things were better back “in their day”. They have selective memories. It could not have been fun being on MY FAVORITE MARTIAN and getting the network note: “A Martian wouldn’t say that.”
Today’s writers will be saying “You kids don’t understand, but back in our day we still had broadcast networks!”
However, I will admit that writers of TV westerns did have it better in previous decades. Same with variety show scribes.
As for the business being the worst it’s ever been, that’s just cyclical. In the early 80s everyone felt that sitcoms were dead. The future was in light dramas like MAGNUM P.I. but the strict half-hour form was quickly heading for extinction. And then COSBY came along. Ten years later between the networks, cable, and first-run syndication there were something like 60 sitcoms on the air. Thanks to terrific new shows like MODERN FAMILY , the half hour comedy appears to be making a comeback yet again. Thank God.
As Carly Simon once said, “These are the good ol' days”.
What’s your question?