It’s Friday Question Day. I’m thinking of starting a restaurant -- TGIFridayQD. What do you think?
Dana Gabbard gets us started:
What should a newcomer look for in an agent? And what should raise alarm bells to avoid one?
I’ll answer the second part first. It’s hard for new writers to be choosy. Getting any agent is not easy. But if the agent wants money from you up front, if the agent wants you to take off your clothes, if the agent says he has an in on THE MUNSTERS, if his mailing address is Chino prison, or he’s not a WGA signatory I would avoid him.
Assuming you’re in the lucky position that more than one agent wants to represent you, see which one seems more eager, more willing to work for you. See which agent is more connected in the business, has the most contacts. See how many other clients he has. How much time will he have for you?
Get out your bullshit detector. Try to determine which agent is being more honest. Are his promises realistic? “I can get you in a room with the story editor of MODERN FAMILY” is realistic. “I can get you in a room with Spielberg” is not.
From David (not Isaacs):
Do you have a favorite Cheers season as a whole? One you think is the strongest from the first to last episode?
The first season. I would put the first season of CHEERS up against the best season of any sitcom. It’s rare that a first season would be the best. Usually a sitcom needs a season or two to really find its groove. But CHEERS had such great texture, sexual chemistry, and inspired writing by the Charles Brothers that it came out of the gate blazing.
Also, Shelley was amazing that season.
I remember being on the stage the night we shot the season finale – the episode where Sam & Diane finally kiss. The audience went absolutely insane. I turned to my partner David and said, “We’ve peaked. There’s nothing we can ever do with these characters that will elicit that kind of reaction again.”
I was right.
Some of the funniest and best individual episodes of the series took place in subsequent seasons but on the whole, nothing compared with year one. And of course, our ratings were never worse than they were year one.
Ironically, another show that I thought had its best season right at the very beginning of its long run was FRASIER.
Dawn Marie wants to know:
Have you ever done any DVD commentary tracks for any of your shows? And of course, if so which ones so I can rent them? Also, do you ever listen to DVD commentaries? What do you think of them, in general (given that the quality does vary)?
Yes, David and I did commentary tracks on our two SIMPSONS episodes – “Dancin’ Homer” and “Saturdays of Thunder”. Both are rent or buyable.
I listen to DVD commentaries sometimes but rarely find them insightful. Usually they’re just directors pointing out exactly what you’re seeing. “There I thought he should duck behind that car.” Wow! Who needs film school? Actor tracks tend to be the worst. They just joke around with each other, offering nothing, and you making you feel excluded.
You guys tell me, what are some great director commentary tracks?
And finally, two questions from Timothy:
First, whats the deal with the unseen announcer on MASH? Why wasn't it a regular character (like Radar or Klinger)? They even had those characters doing announcements from time to time.
The concept was taken from the movie. I think it just added to the strangeness of the place. I liked it actually.
My second question goes along with your failures theater. I recently stumbled across "The Fighting Nightingales", but could only find some archived reviews from obscure websites that told very little. Do you know anything more about it?
It was CBS and 20th’s attempt to do a female MASH. Sort of the like THE GIRL FROM UNCLE but with the Korean War. The Fighting Nightingales were MASH nurses. It starred large-breasted Adrienne Barbeau. Don’t remember her name on the show but if Alan Alda was “Hawkeye” she could have been “Twin Peaks”.
The pilot aired once and was a casualty of television war.
What’s your question?