Something to read in line while buying Christmas gifts – some Friday Questions.
First up is EnvyYou.
As a German scribe and filmmaker, I often read or hear about the meeting etiquette of Hollywood. You touched the topic briefly. It sounds like a bastard version of "THE CODE" or "THE RULES". But how could a newbie decipher that? What does a Wednesday one-on-one breakfast meet at Musso's&Frank's mean? Or if the producer/agent/unknown wannabe bigwig meets you in a coffee franchise shop? It would be fun and enlightening if you could decode the between-the-lines of the Hollywood business restaurant meetings. And who is paying the bill?
Where you are taken and at what time determines your importance in the industry. Obviously, dinners are reserved for high-end clients. Lunches also signify genuine interest. Breakfast usually means “we’re willing to maintain a relationship but don't buy a house”. And if an agent just wants to “grab coffee” that's the Hollywood equivalent of detention .
The venue itself also speaks volumes. I’m not an A-list writer so I’m sure I’m way behind on the top trendy hot spots. But I’m guessing Mastro’s, Spago’s, Mr. Chow’s, the Ivy – wherever stars hang out.
The Palm and the Grill on the Alley are more staid but still popular among agents. Of course, which table you’re seated at is also telling.
Lunch at one of those haunts is also a good sign. Musso & Frank would definitely be second-tier. No one expects to be seen there except local news anchors. And if you can’t “be seen” then what’s the point? Other second-tier eateries would include Kate Mantalini’s, the Daily Grill, the Cheesecake Factory, and any deli.
Breakfasts are generally write-offs. Makes no difference where they take you. They still have to leave in 45 minutes and generally no one orders anything expensive anyway.
Warning: If your agent just wants to meet you for coffee you’re in trouble.
Shows like Dallas and Rosanne have used the 'the last season/ last four years' was a dream plot twist. What is your opinion of this narrative technique and has it ever been used well in TV?
Here’s essentially the same question from two readers:
I'm wondering how upset you or other writers get when you see your work hacked to bits in syndication. The other night we saw a MASH episode on TV Land that was so cut up that the plot ceased to make any sense. Does this frustrate you or do the syndication checks ease the pain?
And from Brad Peterson:
Ken, as a writer, how do you feel when you see an episode of "Cheers" or "M*A*S*H" you've written with 3-4 minutes excised for syndication?
I can’t even watch some of my shows that have been hacked in syndication. MASH is the worst. Some of those shows are so poorly chopped up that the stories no longer make any sense. Whole scenes are lifted, sometimes arbitrarily. I often wonder who the studios hired to edit these things. They probably just posted an ad at the Butchers Union.
On the other hand, I still do enjoy the residuals so I can’t complain too loudly.
And finally, from Liggie:
Friday question, from a screenplay newbie. Which is better for protection before submitting the script to readers/editors/whomever, a WGA registration or a Copyright acquisition? (Of course, insert "answer will not substitute for legal advice" disclaimer here.)
Do them both.
What's your question? And drive safely this holiday weekend.