Comin’ attacha – Friday Questions. What’s yours?
Nat Gertler leads off:
Do spin-off ideas come from the creative folks, or is it mostly the suits saying "Frasier is making money; can we have Frasier:Miami?" (Actually, I was surprised they didn't follow the show with a Roz series.)
Generally it’s the network trying to squeeze the golden goose until its eyes bulge out. Procedurals are easier but sitcoms are hard to spin off since you’re generally spinning off the supporting characters. In the case of FRASIER you had an actor in Kelsey Grammer who could carry a series. Not so with JOEY’S Matt LeBlanc. And I think there was a spinoff of MASH that was less than successful.
My favorite spinoff story was SANFORD & SON. Both Red Foxx and Dumond Wilson left the show and it became THE SANFORD ARMS. In essence NBC renewed the set.
Again, with procedurals it’s the franchise that is the star so you can have CSI:SASKATOON with a completely different cast and it should work as long as they have an expert in moose tracks.
To my knowledge there was no real talk of spinning-off Roz or any of the FRASIER cast members but I can’t say for sure. Jeff Zucker was at NBC then so he probably figured who needs FRASIER when they had the American version of COUPLING?
When you're developing a new idea, what criteria do you use to decide whether the concept will work best as a feature vs. a television series? Have you ever started writing an original work as one, and transformed it to the other?
No, I never started writing a movie and decided halfway through that it should be a pilot, or vice versa. The approach to storytelling is so different and I always map out the story before beginning to write it. So there are no surprises.
What other blogs do you recommend?
Check the right column for my favorite links. Of particular interest might be Earl Pomerantz’s blog, and Mark Evanier’s News From Me.
Lookout Landing is a great Mariners’ blog. Tallulah Morehead is always good for a laugh. And for internet radio – GreatBigRadio.com is better than any rock station you have in your local market. And if you love oldies, RichBroRadio.com is your stairway to heaven. Also, for you Philly transplants, HyLitRadio.com.
But scroll down the links and see if there’s anything that interests you. Or better yet, click on the book icon and buy my book.
Finally, from Kaan:
Have you ever changed a thing about a storyline, or the storyline itself, because you knew international viewers wouldn't understand that?
I mean, in the writings process, do the writers take into account that their show is sometimes watched worldwide? Is that a factor you have to consider?
Some may consider it but if I’m being honest, I never do. The sitcoms I write are designed for an American audience. What I always try to do however, is create stories that are about the human condition. So there is a universal aspect to them. The best stories are the ones that hook you emotionally, and hopefully that translates to different languages and cultures.
But if I make references that are uniquely American I don’t think that detracts from a global audience enjoying the show. Specificity is a good thing. Likewise, when I watch British or Canadian or Australian shows I want a taste of their cultures. I wonder what Syrian sitcoms are like???