Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

Above is a photo of real MASH doctors.

Several times studios and networks have come to my writing partner, David and me asking us to create another MASH. Well, that can’t be done. MASH is unique. It’s a comedy. It’s a drama. It’s a life and death situation. And the entire premise is built around insanity. The insanity of war, the insanity of doctors treating patients who never should be there in the first place. Comedy that comes from pain, from futility.

When you watch MASH, as well as hopefully being entertained, please appreciate the sacrifice these young soldiers and all American soldiers have made for their country.

Our thanks and prayers go to them and their families on this Memorial Day.


Tomorow:  My response to Roseanne's angry rebuttal of my article about her.    Warning:  it will be a very short response.   But first, here's what she wrote about me in her blog.  Ouch. 

47 comments:

rchesson said...

Ken - Why would you want to get in a "pillow fight" with someone who is unquestionably CRAZY? Like the old saw..Don't wrestle with the pig in the mud, you both get dirty and the pig likes it.

sephim said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brian Phillips said...

I send a thank you to you from my late father, who served during the Korean War.

John Brown said...

You know, the rumor about Roseanne Barr is that she lifted her whole "domestic goddess" routine from Judy Tenuta.

Some would call it stealing, or maybe sampling. I am sure that she would own up to it. Seeing how upset up she is about others taking credit for her work.

Simon H. said...

Does replying in this thread about your upcoming reply to Roseanne automatically make me a sexist pig? Or do I have to wait until commenting on the reply post to become one by her logic? And who knew out of all the people here that read and participate in discussions that 100% of us are sexist pigs. Even the women. Thank you for showing us the light of truth Roseanne.

Simon H. said...

Also, Happy Memorial Day to all the veterans out there. You all deserve it.

Simon H. said...

Re-reading that, I hope that didn't read as chipper as I think it did. Many thanks to the great service of Veterans and the sacrifices of those we lost.

benson said...

Ken, you've probably heard this line, but others might not. Baseball legend Jimmy Piersall (immortalized in celluloid by Tony Perkins in "Fear Strikes Out") said it best. "I'm crazy and I've got the papers to prove it."

But the one thing that jumps out from her blog reply is, she obviously had her original piece ghost written. It sounded too polished and had too many big words to be Rosanne's voice. The blog post is more her own words.

And sitting here on the sideline, this is gettin' good. Go get her, Ken.

GRayR said...

As a Nuclear Sub Vet (boomers 6 years) I want to especially say thanks to the men of the Submarine Service that lost everything. Especially to the men of the Scorpion and the Thresher and the brave lads of the Soviet Sub Service who have lost more even more men on nuc subs.

We cruised the oceans to keep our freedoms so people like you and Roseanne could speak their minds. (although we did threatening to blow up the world) That part of which I am not really proud of, thank god we never had to.

I read Roseanne's blog and my mouth dropped. Ken she is really out of it, flame wars are fun to watch, but bad to be in.

Thanks for your blog and your writing skills. MASH really helped people understand the absurdity of war.

Thanks again from an old cold war warrior.

Gary

Anonymous said...

benson - You've got the Piersall quote wrong. Back in the 1970's when he and Harry Carey were the White Sox broadcasting team, Piersall would say some wild thing and Harry would tell him he's crazy. Piersall would then respond " No I'm not and I have the papers to prove it."

Rich said...

Ken -- I love the blog. Never realized why until I read Ms. Barr's screed.

I once heard Eric Idle define humor thusly -- "A lot of people go through life thinking the world makes sense. Humor tells people that life doesn't make sense, but -- good news -- it doesn't make any difference anyway." In other words, keep it light. Laugh at it all. Have some fun.

Your blog features the kind of humor I grew up with. My father's bookshelf groaned with the volumes of Robert Benchley, Max Shulman (forgotten genius), Perelman, Thurber. He introduced me (via LP recordings) to Jack Benny and Fred Allen (another forgotten genius). I moved on to Stan Freberg, Bob & Ray, Bob Newhart, then on to the Firesign Theatre and Monty Python.

What you do -- in your tv work and in this blog -- has a kind of generosity and 'we're in this together' quality that's almost been lost in this culture. Compare Bob & Ray to Howard Stern, or Art Buchwald to Glenn Beck.

Ms. Barr's yowl is what passes for 'cutting-edge' humor now --mean-spirited, vitriolic, proudly defamatory, filled with gleeful hate.

Just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy what you do. Keep going.

Gary said...

My thanks to all vets and especially to the families of the veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Mac said...

I think a very short response is best in this case. Maybe just the number of a good therapist.

Mac said...

More importantly, Happy Memorial day to all veterans. Cool photo.

Mary Stella said...

Honestly, Ken, don't you think you had this attack coming? I mean, really. Where do you get off saying you admire her show as truly groundbreaking, naming her as the creative voice, and saying she's an enormously talented woman?

Call me naive, but I don't think wardrobe scissors are an effective tool for conflict resolution.

William said...

@Rich:
"Ms. Barr's yowl is what passes for 'cutting-edge' humor now --mean-spirited, vitriolic, proudly defamatory, filled with gleeful hate."

Umm... no, I don't think Roseanne Barr's blog post would be regarded as cutting edge by anyone. First, Roseanne's schtick is over two decades old at this point. She's before my time (I'm getting this information from wikipedia), and I'm already old enough that I don't have any idea what the kids are doing these days. (Howard Stern is also a dated example, BTW). Second, the internet is filled with poorly written and punctuated rants. If there's anything I can tell you about "now", it's that good writing is important.

Ken, I don't think you need to reply to Roseanne's post. It speaks for itself.

extex said...

So you are or would be protected because you are Jewish?
Didn't that kind of stupidity get Mel Gibson in trouble ?
Why is Roseanne getting a pass on her anti -semitism from readers on her blog?
elaine

Barefoot Billy Aloha said...

Roseann called you an "asshat."

My question is, if I go out and buy an asshat, will it look good covering my bald head or will it look like I just grew another skull?

DodgerGirl said...

Love the photo of the real MASH physicians. Thank you for sharing it!

Re: Roseanne's blog: the first thing that jumps out at me is the poor grammer and spelling. The second thing is the constant harangue on your religious heritage (ethnicity?). Didn't she always claim to be jewish herself? And why is that important in this argument?

And having read your blog every day for years now, I've never seen anything remotely sexist and your advice for aspiring writers (and radio/sports announcers) has come across as sensible, specific and realistic.

John said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John D'Oh said...

This may be a 'war of words' where silence wins.
Just a thought...

Brigadude said...

Ethel Merman's memoir contains a chapter about her 32-day marriage to Ernest Borgnine which is a single blank page. Surely you can come up with the blog equivalent of that as a response to Roseanne.

John said...

All you have to do is look at the trajectory of Rosanne's show as she gained more and more control over it to see that Lord Acton's quote about power pretty much applies to diva sitcom stars.

Rosanne may not have appreciated being treated (in her mind at least) like the hired help during the early seasons of the show, but the final season, when there was no one in the room to tell her 'no', was one of the most epic final disasters for a long-running show in TV history (and of course, her ideas of "funny" when it came to singing the national anthem in San Diego showed she might have benefited from a little pre-game consultation with some others, including the executive producer of her show who owned the team and might have told her at least to lose the crotch-grabbing bit).

Ms. Barr's not a woman who takes to the art of compromise or collaboration easily, and plays the gender victim card against anyone who doesn't see things her way. Which is why unless one of the cable channels decides to do a reality series about Hawaiian nut farming, the odds are she's going to have to be satisfied with ranting in magazine articles and on blog postings to keep her name in the spotlight.

scooter said...

This teapot tempest is a little amusing, given that both Roseanne and The Simpsons (which Ken did such great work for) were such amazing shows on at the same time: both about working class families; both having their humour solidly grounded in the reality of not being spiffingly well off; both stopped being funny when they stopped connecting to that reality.

Obviously sexism (in the entertainment industry and everywhere else) was and is a huge problem, and Roseanne and her show were part of trying to change that.

But it's sad to see from her initial article and her reaction to Ken's post that she's setting herself up as a martyr. I get why she's angry about the creator credit, but as Ken pointed out, she still *owns* part of the show, makes money from it, and everyone knows it's hers - one of the greatest shows in TV history, in my opinion. No one can take that away from her.

Dan Spelvin said...

Obviously this is one fight you'll regret picking, because Barr has invited all women who worked on any of your writing staffs to spill the beans on how vilely they were treated under your vicious, Jewish man regime.

That was yesterday, and already....Okay, so far the flood of "Ken Levine pulled me into the stairwell and thrust his tongue down my throat" exposés hasn't begun.

But just you wait.

And if no one comes forward to reveal the details of the hostile work environment you, a white Jewish man, created for funny women writers, that will serve only to demonstrate how terrified those funny women writers remain of your white Jewish vengeful wrath.

Great Big Radio Guy said...

Hmmm. The link is broken and there's nothing I can find on her blog. Guess she felt some remorse? Or someone advised her to knock it off. Either way, her blog is a mess - like a ransom note run amok.

Back on topic - the best tribute to our fallen troops is to no longer create new fallen troops. We pray every day for that event.

@IFeedUrTV said...

Roseanne's blog post seems to have gone 404. Hmmm...

Word verifier: "Fatti." No comment.

Roseanne said...

this guy and every one of his commenters loathe women--check it out--I'm just the only one they dare to call a cunt and a bitch in public, as they trip over their own feet to gobble Hollywood knob.
Ken Levine is a farily respected sit-com writer, and yet he has no respect for me as a fellow writer in any way. Why would a writer have no respect for another who accomplished far more than he ever did? Because that person is female, that's why.
Why would he insult me for wanting credit for my writing, when he himself is a writer and a member of a guild that protects him from being ripped off, or having his work published under someone else's name? He would howl like the balless little bitch that he is if that happened to him, but it wouldn't because he is a white jewish man who has thousands of peers who would take his side with him if that happened to him. It happened to me, Ken. You purposely mischaracterize my words in the New York magazine article that I WROTE. I took responsiblity for bad behavior, but explained that the bad behavior was during a nervous breakdown brought on by having to work in a hostile work environment, and I am pretty sure that women who have worked for you in the past (if indeed there were ANY) worked in a hostile work environment. Let me know, women writers out there--how were you treated on Ken Levine's staff?
He uses a racist term "gypped" in his ignorant article about me--so I am sure if there were ever any people of color on his staff that they worked in a hostile work environment too--sexists and racists are not nice people.
I did not have fawning guys up my ass trying to get a future job out of me like you do, Ken, I had only contempt, like the kind that drips from your article about me and denigrates my work, and gives a man credit for it. My work was stolen from me, and I will never get over, and neither would you, if that happened to you.


Word Verification: bolls - sometimes you just can't make this shit up

RCP said...

I just wanted to mention my older sister's boyfriend Will, who I remember as being tall, fair-haired with a crewcut, and always playing the harmonica as he and my sister strolled around the blocks of our neighborhood. Will was killed within weeks after shipping out to Vietnam.

* * *

Roseanne: In case you actually are reading these comments, I was probably one of a relative handful of 12-year-old American boys whose heroes included Bella Abzug and Eleanor Roosevelt - and have always been more a champion of womens' rights than a number of women I know. I also grew up gay, so I know a thing or two about discrimination, and being judged by idiotic stereotypes. My criticism dealt solely with your behavior, not your gender.

chris said...

As my folks would say "Consider the source".

In a war of words you would be the victor, but over what exactly...take the higher ground.

Cap'n Bob said...

Barr's illiterate screeching underscores why I can't stand her and that's all the attention she'll get from me.

Calling someone a racist for saying "gypped" is preposterous, even if it refers to gypsies, who, by the way, claim they have the right to gyp people by Biblical fiat.

Johnny Walker said...

From Roseanne's point of view, Ken has taken a very personal shot at her, and it's completely understandable that it would hurt. Likewise, some of the comments on the previous post were below the belt, IMO. How she's dealing with that hurt is a different matter, but I don't think anyone here could deny that it would hurt if you were in her shoes.

That said, I'm glad to see that _most_ comments her have remained civil and intelligent. I'm a huge fan of both Ken's and Roseanne's work (Roseanne and Cheers were shows I grew up watching and loving as a kid and teenager). I don't know either of them personally, and I think they know each other, either... Which kind of makes you wonder what everyone is arguing about.

Roseanne offended Ken. Then Ken offended Roseanne. Now where do we go?

Ken, this is another vote to put aside your emotions and take the high road.

D. McEwan said...

She championed gay rights on her show a good deal, yet she feels that she's made an hilarious comic coup by calling Ken, and all we commenters, "Hollywood Knob Gobblers", which is a lot worse that using "gyp," as well as wide of the mark for Ken, and I speak as a proud, actual Hollywood Knob Gobbler.

Isn't an "asshat" pants?

media_lush said...

I thought I would never say this but...... I actually feel retrospective sympathy for Tom Arnold

Rupert Jones Soda said...

Ken, it's scientific observation that the M's win more games when you're in the radio booth, so.......forget the Roseanne feud and stick around KIRO for the rest of the season. You and Ricky Rigoletto make a great team!

thomas tucker said...

When you respond to Roseanne, could you please educate her about the use of the phrase "could care less" versus "couldn't care less?"

Phillip B said...

"Follow the frantic lives of a military hospital's resident doctors and nurses as they navigate the relentless life-and-death battles that arise from working in the war zone of Southern Afghanistan."

So ABC describes Combat Hospital, a new show that looks like it will have more soap opera than comedy. Figures - Afghanistan could not possibly be as funny as Korea...

l.a.guy said...

I think she's just pissed because when she saw the title of your book "Where The Hell Am I" she just naturally assumed you had ripped off her life story.

Anonymous said...

She sure doesn't have a lot of responders on her blog and the ones that do seem just as wacked out as she is.

SeaSpray said...

I have been watching the MASH marathon on TV Land during the weekend and the 30th anniversary reunion and about to go watch the movie I tivoed - final episode.

I loved that show when I was only 18 and my husband (Vietnam vet) and I have always been fans.

I appreciate it even more now than I did when it was on. The humor was exquisite - still is ..but older and wiser ...I am all the more appreciative of what they were trying to convey about war. They honored the soldiers ...portraying them as brave yet demonstrated the inevitable brokenness that comes as a casualty of enduring the horrors of war.

Brilliant writing!

Brilliant acting!

BRILLIANT show!

I wish they could all come back. :)

PS When I worked witht the ER staff ...I used to say that working with them was like working in MASH, because when it's crazy ..you work like heck and when it's not they're all crazy. :)

Frank Paradise said...

Being called an asshat is a real crack up!

Breadbaker said...

What was wonderful about M*A*S*H is that it showed respect for the troops without giving a pass to those who put them in that situation.

1996 Chevrolet Impala AC Compressor said...

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cshel said...

I find it an ironic coincidence that one of the last names of the men written in on the Korean War photograph just happens to be Barr.

BDodd said...

Once in Cheers, Carla graciously offered Lilith a room in her attic to hang upside down in.

After reading Ms. Barr's rant, I can't imagine why that line suddenly came back to me. Anyway, for the record, I'm a woman who wouldn't be reading your blog daily if I sensed you were the least bit sexist or racist. Her's was the first time I've ever had the misfortune to witness that in spades.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand this "credit-stealing" issue. I'm a fairly low-level writer, but I've optioned a couple of series to networks. In both instances, I signed a contract acknowledging that a showrunner would take control, BUT I was contractually guaranteed to at least co-write the pilot and get a minimum of a "co-created by" credit.

Did Roseanne's agent drop the ball? Or has the industry changed for writers in the past 20 years? Or did my agent just get me amazing deals?

Johnny Walker said...

@media_lush, I know! I have newfound respect for the guy.