Here are some Friday Questions to kick off your weekend and the baseball season.
Trixie Malone wants to know:
How does a budding comedy writer find other budding comedy writers to partner up with? I've tried the number on the bathroom stall trick, but those people just aren't funny. Any suggestions?
One of my readers, Darren, saw this and offered a great suggestion:
Try this group.
It's an online group of about 600 TV writers around the world. Occasionally, people post looking for writing groups and partners. We share info, scripts, do meetups in LA and commiserate. It's 3 parts education, 2 parts support group, 1 part Alcoholics-Not-Very-Anonymous. Good luck!
Thanks, Darren. Another avenue is through writing courses. Lots of people pair up that way.
From time to time the WGA holds events where writers seeking partners are encouraged to attend. Go to their website and keep an eye out for future events. David and I once spoke at one of these and the ad read, “Who knows? The next Levine & Isaacs could be formed at this meeting.” My reaction was, “Hey, WE’RE the next Levine & Isaacs!”
I've often heard the old story about how Cheers came dead last in the ratings in it's first season - my question is an obvious one: How or why was Cheers even renewed for the second season when it's ratings were so bad? Also - when did the ratings start to improve (because the quality of the show is evident even in season #1) and if it was on the air today would it survive? Or is today's TV environment too different?
NBC was in a re-building period and that takes time. It was like trying to make a U-turn in a battleship.
Tinker and Tartikoff realized the ratings problems with CHEERS wasn’t the content but the network’s inability to adequately promote the show because they had no hits to help launch it. And ironically, the disappointing numbers CHEERS had then (1982) would make it a runaway smash in today’s landscape.
Two things helped CHEERS: winning the Best Comedy Emmy that first year (no easy feat since the competition was the last season of MASH and the last season of TAXI), and then COSBY’S arrival season three. COSBY was an absolute game-changer. It exploded onto the scene, getting unheard-of shares in the 40’s. Riding its coat-tails, CHEERS rocketed into the top ten and stayed there for the rest of its run.
Hard to say whether this could happen today. I suppose it’s possible if the network powers-that-be are willing to stick with a show they believe in. I suppose the big difference between then and now is in 1982 NBC championed CHEERS. Today they champion WHITNEY.
On a related subject, Chris wonders:
Any idea why CBS would keep trying to screw over a good show, that also has good numbers, like RULES OF ENGAGEMENT? First they move it to Saturday nights to put on HOW TO BE A GENTLEMAN then they force it to go on hiatus for months to give the slot to ROB! Why would they try to mess a show with good numbers up?
I can’t tell you how many people have said to me they discovered BECKER in syndication and love it. But they had no memory of it being on the network. BECKER was on CBS for five friggin’ seasons.
I bet RULES OF ENGAGEMENT has the same fate. People will think it’s a nice new cable show.
Opening day is finally here. I hope you enjoy this season as much as you did all the others. I am quite jealous I might add. What was your favorite/most memorable night in the booth?
A spring training game in Glendale, Arizona in 2009. I was filling in for the Dodgers on the radio. It was also a TV game, which meant that Vin Scully did the first three innings as a simulcast and then the last six on TV. So for that one glorious March Sunday afternoon, Dodger baseball was broadcast by Vin Scully and me. I still have the tape of Vinny tossing it to me for the play-by-play. I don’t think I could covet an Oscar more.
What’s your question?