The official kick-off to the Labor Day Weekend is reading Friday Questions.
Joey on the 8s has a couple of CHEERS questions.
1. Our tour guide took us by "the tank" on Paramount's lot, and I found where you mentioned it in a previous post. This guide told a story about how it was used in Cheers in the "Sam proposes to Diane" scene where Diane is supposed to end up on "Boston harbor." His story went that when the scene was first set up, Shelley complained that the water was too cold and she wouldn't go in, so they spent a few days pumping in warmer water ... and then she still balked at going in. The guide implied that's why she was off the show shortly thereafter. Any comments there?
I wasn’t there for that but friend-of-the-blog and super mensch David Lee was. David graciously answers:
Totally false. I remember it clearly because Peter (Casey) and I wrote the episode.
The water was heated to a certain temperature because that's what the actors' union insists upon (rightly so.) Shelley never complained about it as there was nothing to complain about. It was heated at the time we began shooting. She also never balked at going in, in fact she was always quite game for that sort of thing. She left the show because she wanted to move on. No other reason. Sorry to mess up a good piece of gossip with the truth.
2. The guide also told a story how, as a result of some bet, Woody and Ted streaked across the lot, including past a spot near the stage where some fresh concrete had been put in. Guide showed us where Ted and Woody signed there names in the concrete. Any recollection of this?
I remember Ted pantsed (panced?) Woody in front of the audience once, but don't recall any streaking episode. Maybe after I left? They did sign their names in some wet concrete, though. I seem to recall it was near the day care center. There is some resonance to that I suppose.
Thanks, David. I probably owe six dinners by now.
I was wondering whether your personal relationship with an actor/actress ever affected what or how much you wrote for a character - either positively or negatively.
David Lee? Oh wait. I guess I can answer this one myself.
More important than how we felt about an actor was how well they delivered. There were actors I was not enamored with personally but were sensational performers. So we wrote as much for them as we could and drank a lot of scotch. Other actors were Oscar winning people in real life but Razzie winners on the set. We would either trim their material as deftly as we could or at least made sure we didn’t place the comedy burden on them.
As for actors using sex to get more lines, I’m reminded of that old Polish joke. “Did you hear about the Polish actress who tried to get ahead by sleeping with writers?”
Drama writers have it a little easier than us sitcom scribes when it comes to dealing with bad actor behavior. If there’s an actor they hate they can always just kill them. One producer on a one-hour show said to me they had to stop doing that. It was getting to the point where by midseason there would be no one left in the entire cast.
And finally, from Jonathan:
Do you write with an actor's/character's voice in mind, or is that something that emerges in rehearsal/shooting and is more a product of the actor and director?
David Isaacs and I always write with either an actor or someone we know in mind, even if we know we’ll never get them. This is especially helpful when you’re writing in a team. That way you can both hear approximately the same voice. And I have to tell you, George Clooney just kills in our scripts!
Happy Labor Day Weekend. Drive safely and leave your comments.