Some Friday Questions coming attcha. What’s yours?
Anonymous starts us off. (Please leave a name. Thank you.)
I've always wondered about the scenes filmed to be part of a musical montage. Knowing the dialogue will never be heard, are the actors actually speaking scripted lines, or are they just improvising? Or are all the scenes shot with dialogue, and the scenes for the montage chosen later?
Sometimes scenes with dialogue will be compressed into a montage for time purposes, but if a montage was the original objective then no, specific dialogue is not written. Actors are asked to improvise or just move their lips (which in some cases is the same thing).
There’s a great Hollywood story (which of course may be apocryphal) about the filming of the movie HEAVEN CAN WAIT in the late ‘70s. It starred Warren Beatty and Julie Christie. Apparently he had a brief fling with her during filming which ended badly. They then had to do this scene where they walked together in one longshot. In the scene they’re starting to falling in love so the body language is romantic and intimate. You figure they’re cooing sweet nothings to each other. But no dialogue was to be heard – just walking arm-in-arm with music over.
So the cooing that you didn’t hear was Julie Christie ripping him a new asshole, MF’ing him up one side and down the other.
After one take Beatty said to co-director, Buck Henry that was enough. He wasn’t going to re-shoot it.
GM has a question, which relates the post I did earlier in the week about network presidents bemoaning the state of the industry.
Do the British have it right? Lots of 3, 6 and 13-episode seasons where the writers get their best out and then have nine months to think up new episodes. I'm really enjoying the shorter season series on a lot of cable networks more than the often padded attempts at 22 on the traditional networks.
That model doesn’t work over here. U.S. audiences are used to more than six episodes. (At one time series churned out 39 episodes every year. I'm exhausted just writing that.)
As for the networks, it’s hard enough for them to get people to tune in to shows now, much less asking viewers to try something else every two months.
The truth is it’s hard to build a following when you only have a limited number of episodes. The audience sometimes needs time to find certain shows (they’ve heard good things, etc.). For someone to discover s show and then it’s gone two weeks later defeats the purpose.
Also, the real payoff for American sitcoms is syndication sales. And for that to be meaningful, they need at least 100 episodes. It would take an English hit comedy a dozen years or so to accumulate that.
Harkaway has a question about what happens after a U.S. broadcast network cancels a show that is still in production?
These days in the UK we sometimes see series with episodes that never aired before due to cancellation in the US. Those episodes may also be used on a DVD, or now, streaming.
How do you maintain morale then?
Once a show is canceled in the US production generally stops. If they’re in the middle of filming an episode they will usually complete production of that show, but then that’s it.
Morale is usually horrible. Either everyone is in tears or they can’t wait for the damn week to be over. I myself, have directed several last episodes of series and it’s an ordeal. Try staging a comedy when everyone is crying.
And finally, this from birdie:
Why would a show like THE ODD COUPLE that not do well in the ratings when on the air, do huge business in syndication? Where were all of those viewers during the original run?
All three of those shows deserved better recognition during their first-run years. I can’t tell you how many people come up to me and say how much they love BECKER. They discovered it only recently. And they’re floored when I tell them it was originally on CBS for five whole years.
So going back to an earlier question, if a series can’t make an impression with a hundred episodes, how do you expect one to do it in six?