Here are some Friday Questions, written in between pitches. Spring Training is back!
Mitchell Hundred is our lead off hitter:
Often sitcoms have an ongoing storyline where one character is in love with another, but cannot ask them out for some reason (resulting in shenanigans). Niles and Daphne in 'Frasier' is the best example that I can think of, but Leonard and Penny in 'The Big Bang Theory' also qualifies. My question is: How do you know the right moment to break the tension and have them get together?
It’s a judgment call, but I always try to key off the audience. During show nights you get the sense whether an audience is really on board with a storyline or if they’re kind of glazing over.
Another indicator is how hard it is to come up with stories. Are you running out of ideas and premises?
The major problem is that the sexual tension and build-up is usually a lot more fun than the aftermath of the couple finally getting together. But you have to realize that you’re dealing with adult characters in 2012. It’s not high school. After awhile if two people who are attracted to each other don’t get together it starts feeling very juvenile and silly.
So you have to walk that fine line.
And then there’s network pressure. The episode where a couple finally hooks up usually gets a rating spike. And networks love love love weddings… during sweeps. They’re highly promotable. But they can also mortgage your show’s future.
The only people who should really cry at weddings are comedy writers.
I was curious about how the actors in sitcom get paid. I can understand the lead actors who appear in every episode having a fixed contract. But sometimes, the supporting cast appears in just one scene or does not appear at all. How do they get paid in such cases?
Usually they’ll make a deal to appear in a specific number of episodes like 7 of 13. Series regulars get paid for all episodes, even if they’re not in all of them or they’re only in a brief scene. You might think, “Sweet!” But trust me, they’d rather be doing more.
From Johnny Walker:
As writers get promoted from Staff Writer to Story Editor, etc. do they get any more responsibilities, or extra "say" in the writers' room? Or is it purely financial/status promotion?
I always have to preface with: it depends on the show. But as you move up through the ranks you do tend to gain more responsibility. You may be included in casting decisions, editing sessions, or even running the room during a rewrite. More “say” comes from trust and that comes from your contributing more.
Generally this means additional work. But I’ve always believed the best thing you can do is become indispensable. Your added value is well worth the added effort. Just keep a sleeping bag in your office.
What’s your question? Leave it (along with your name) in the comments section. Thanks.