Here are your Friday questions and answers and a note: For all those of you who asked me to go into more detail on my Moe encounter, I'm writing that now and will post it tonight.
Did you write any episodes with "Harry The Hat"? I'm reading his book "Games you can't loose", and the first one in his book is the one he pulled on Cliff - "I bet I can drink this drink without touching the hat".
“Harry the Hat” was the flim-flam character who popped up from time to time on CHEERS played by Harry Anderson (pre NIGHTCOURT and DAVE’S WORLD). Yes, David Isaacs and I wrote two – one in the first year and one in the last.
He appears in the teaser of “Boys in the Bar” from season one (the one where the bar regulars fear Cheers is about to go gay), and in the final Bar Wars (we wrote all of the Bar Wars episodes -- we're sick individuals) Harry helps the guys in the ultimate one-upsmanship of Gary’s Old Towne Tavern.
Harry really is a magician. We used him six or seven times in the first season and a lot of the scams were suggested by Harry himself. I would not play cards with this man. I would not give change to this man.
Matt Patton asks:
How much input, if any, would the writer of a show have on the casting of a role? I'm not necessarily thinking of the one of the main characters, just a guest role. Would a staff writer have enough pull to at least suggest an actor they like for a role, or is that entirely in the hands of the show-runner or network executives?
It always varies from show to show but most of the time casting suggestions are very welcomed by the writer. Or, for that matter, anyone on staff. The names can't be worse than the network casting suggestions. They once recommended an actor for a role who was dead.
But we used to kick names around in the room all the time. There's also a phone-book-size "Actor's Directory" that gives you names and pictures of just about everyone out there. We spend hours combing through that book.
Writers will sometime imagine certain actors or types as he writes a character. Knowing what was in his head can be very helpful.
On some dramas the writer of an episode essentially produces it. He casts the guest roles, supervises filming, and post production. Do try to get on one of those shows.
Anonymous has a question, which is ironic considering it’s about identity.
When hiring for new shows - how does the producer know that a "Written by" in resumes doesn't mean "Pizza-runner" or "slept with a producer" ?
Very simple. You read samples of his work and they MUST BE first drafts. If I receive a submission and it’s a shooting script I just toss it. I need to see the writer’s work BEFORE the staff gets a hold of it. And even then it’s hard to tell because the staff probably helped break the story and along the way pitched some good jokes that found their way into the writer’s original draft.
The plus side of the writer in question being on someone’s staff is you can snoop around and get feedback on how well he’s liked, how much he contributed, did he chew with his mouth open, etc.
If the writer is on staff of a show like BIG BANG THEORY that I know is room written then I want to see something original, not from the show.
By the way, if I do receive a shooting script as a submission I blame the agent, not the writer. The agent should know better. Often times the writer doesn’t know exactly what script has been submitted to whom on his behalf.
What is your question?