Here are this Friday’s Friday Questions. Leave yours in the comments section. I’ll be doing some bonus Question days because they’re starting to pile up and I want to get to as many of them as possible.
Texas 1st is 1st:
I was watching the 1st season episode of Cheers called "Now pitching: Sam Malone." In it, Sam does a commercial for a beer. It really worked as a commercial with the setup. It even felt like it would work in the world today, maybe with a current era pitcher in Sam's role, and a real beer for a client. was this something you had seen, or did this come about from you and David?
That was a parody of a beer campaign that was popular at the time. I think for Miller Lite. We used former Red Sox great, Luis Tiant. It took about twenty takes, but I didn’t care. Got to hang out with El Tiante!
Before computers, did you type up your own scripts or was that job given to someone else? Also, do you still have copies of these old scripts? I can imagine the early ones only ever existed on paper (and TV, of course).
When my partner David Isaacs and I began we carved the scripts into rocks. Seriously, when we started we’d get together and David would take down the script in longhand on college notebooks. I would then type them. We bought a used IBM Selectric that resulted in my first hernia.
When we wrote our first couple of screenplays we splurged and hired a woman to type the scripts for us. This was all "pre-computer".
Once we got on staff of MASH we still wrote in longhand but had our assistant, the wondrous Ginny, type the drafts.
Things changed on CHEERS. We learned how to dictate scripts to our assistant. And that’s how we’ve done it ever since.
Yes, I do have original drafts of our old scripts. I also have all the handwritten notebooks and outlines. I keep waiting for the Smithsonian to call but they never do.
I also have all my scorebooks from all my years of calling baseball. I keep waiting for Cooperstown to call. And waiting... and waiting... and waiting...
Anonymous (please leave a name, even a Klingon one) asks:
How much do announcers get together? You were just in Cleveland, did you see Tom Hamilton, etc.? Are there any you particularly enjoy spending time with?
Also, most people love or hate their hometown announcer but are there any whom you think are undiscovered gems?
Announcers from various teams do socialize together. Tom Hamilton and I have been friends since we were both in the minors in 1988. I was in Syracuse and Tom was in Columbus. Same with me and Gary Cohen of the Mets (Pawtucket), Greg Brown of the Pirates (Buffalo), Terry Smith of the Angels (Columbus), and Vince Controneo of the A’s (Iowa).
For undiscovered gems – Andy Freed and Dave Wills, the radio team for the Tampa Bay Rays are awesome. Both are good in their own right and the chemistry they have together is special. I used to listen to them even when their team was horrible.
And finally, from mp:
I caught a bit of the M*A*S*H movie on HBO last week and it made me wonder about writing on a show that was adapted from a movie. (I know it was already running for a few seasons before you joined, but I am hoping you may be able to provide some insight.)
Before the show had time to set a new identity, how did the showrunners instruct the staff writers to regard the movie?
Easy. Larry Gelbart pretty much wrote the whole first season himself (not to mention seasons two through four). Along with Gene Reynolds, he forged the style and the rest of us just followed it.
When we came aboard, we first met with Gene who loaded us down with research material, history books, and the original book MASH by Richard Hooker.
Reading the book was very strange. The Hawkeye in the book was much more like the Hawkeye in the movie. So it was hard to merge Alan Alda with that character. Trapper was off the show by that point so that wasn’t an issue, but imaging Hawkeye from the text was like watching a 3D movie without the glasses.
Have a great weekend! And if you're looking for reading material (hint hint), you're welcome to order my new book. The Kindle version is available now. Paperback soon. Here's where you go. Many thanks.