Friday, August 03, 2012

Worst network note ever


33 comments:

Tim W. said...

I can see a note like that, but showing an email from 1974 does not exactly make me believe this is anything but fake. Or is that the point?

Derryl Murphy said...

Que?

Deb said...

HAHA! That has made my evening. Now, off to finish my rewrite ...

Rock Golf said...

Turns out he was right. It was cancelled after 12 episodes. Heck, even Whitney has more than that.

Rock Golf said...

(sits and waits for those with low sarcasm detection skills)

JC Bakken said...

Tim, that was not an e-mail. That was pro-e-.

Anonymous said...

!!! They're called memos, and email was patterned after them, haha. Later, I'll tell you what CC means.

Anonymous said...

Tim W. is more thick-headed than Ian Main.

JC Bakken said...

Argh, I of course meant pre-e-, nor pro-e-.
And that's why you don't correct folks online.

Johnny said...

This ranks right up there with Michael Eisner's predictions for Finding Nemo.

Stephen Gallagher said...

It's not fake. It's famous.

Andy Ihnatko said...

But remember that this Ian fellow is just reading the scripts. The performances made "Fawlty Towers" special.

I noticed the same thing about Bob and Ray. I have the two or three books of scripts that they published. On the page, it's nothing. In performance, it's gut-busting.

Ken, how do comedy pitches navigate this problem? So much of comedy depends on how an actor and a director translate a script to the screen. The difference between many scenes in "Blazing Saddles" and a sketch in a Bob Hope special is in the timing and the performances.

HogsAteMySister said...

Anyone know what kind of career the memo-writer went on to have? In TV or fast food?

Barry Traylor said...

What a moron.

write-light said...

Well Mr. Comedy Script Editor Ian wasn't wrong, but he wasn't right either. Stock characters and cliches played (and mined) by comedic actors of the caliber of Cleese, Scales, and Booth (and what's his name, Dammit Manuel) is quite a different thing.

Wallis Lane said...

Probably the same guy that told Decca Records to turn down the Beatles because "guitar music is on the way out"

Dr. Leo Marvin said...

Wow.

(Best TV farce ever, IMNSHO.)

Tim W. said...

Okay, I admit. I didn't look at it that closely. Yes, I feel like an idiot. It's times like this when I wish I could delete my own comments.

DBenson said...

My impression is that rejection is the default decision of incompetents in every field. If you actually do something (or approve somebody else doing something), there's a possibility of failure. By rejecting everything, you're usually able to claim you prevented something worse than the status quo.

And since eventual hit shows and movies are never perfectly identical to what executives rejected, they can still claim they were right to do so (and hint the rejectee was only saved by Constructive Criticism like this memo).

There's a question: Do you know of any network execs who got away with approving nothing at all?

Larry said...

The weird thing is it's not like John Cleese was a nobody. He'd been a highly successful and respected writer and actor for years, and was coming off Monty Python. The guy should have been given carte blanche for his next series.

DJ said...

Andrew Sachs.

You'd think the suit would have really covered his bases by saying " I can't see it on the page, but this IS John Cleese. Let's film it, and see how it looks." I'm not sure the BBC had enough of a budget to film pilots that were not thought of highly by the suits on the off chance that lightning would strike.

Sebastian Peitsch said...

@Larry: Monty Python wasn't a success back then, especially not among the ranks of the BBC. They hated it and none of the actors/writers were in high standing and highly frustrated over that.

Just watch the interviews on the Fawlty Towers DVDs. Cleese and Booth mention it a couple of times that they had a huge amount of problems to get this show on the air and that the executives in the BBC were as thick as a bunker wall back then.

Ane said...

He knew naathing. Was he from Barcelona?

Tony Schumacher said...

I always sensed a little bit of Fawlty in Frazier Crane, just a tiny bit of the manic pomposity. Was he an influence or am I completely wrong?

Paul Duca said...

You mean worse than THIS one?


To: Larry Gelbart and Gene Reynolds

From: V.P. Current Programming

Subject: M*A*S*H

Please clear your calendar for lunch on Friday.
I need to explain how you guys keep screwing
up M*A*S*H


(as quoted in A MARTIAN WOULDN'T SAY THAT! by Leonard Stern).

Tom Mason said...

From Wikipedia: "Bill Cotton, the BBC's Head of Light Entertainment in the mid-1970s, said after the first series was produced that the show was a prime example of the BBC's relaxed attitude to trying new entertainment formats and encouraging new ideas. He said that when he read the first scripts he could see nothing funny in them but trusting that Cleese knew what he was doing, he gave the go-ahead. He said that the commercial channels, with their emphasis on audience ratings, would never have let the programme get to the production stage on the basis of the scripts."

While Monty Python may not have been a big hit during its original airing, pre-Python Cleese was a big deal comedy writer in England throughout the 1960s, from The Frost Report, At Last The 1948 Show, and Doctor In The House.

D. McEwan said...

"Tim W. said...
Showing an email from 1974 does not exactly make me believe this is anything but fake."


What are you? 15 years old? There was no such thing as "email" in 1974. This was an interdepartmental memo, and was typed on a typewriter. That was a machine we all had back in 1974 (I still have one, gathering dust in a closet, unused for 22 years), which stamped individual letters directly onto paper, one letter at a time while you "typed" on a keyboard similar to a computer's keyboard. Next week, I'll explain to you what a "rotary dial" telephone was, and a "black & white" TV.

And this is not a fake. It
is a famous piece of studio inepitutde, right up there with the talent appraser who thought Fred Astaire had no looks or talent and could never be a movie star. (It included the memorable notation: "Can dance a little"), and the idiot reader at Paramount who, in early 1959, turned in a reader report on Robert Bloch's novel Psycho,
insisting it was "unfilmable", just a year before Psycho became the second-highest grossing movie of 1960 (after Spartacus).

Well, here we are, 38 years later. Everyone remember all the great TV work from Ian Main, aside from his attempt to save us all from the horror that was Fawlty Towers?

Email from 1974! Like the famous telephone call Jesus made to Moses back in "Olden Times"!

The Indian Bustard said...

@D McEwan

"Tim W. said... Okay, I admit. I didn't look at it that closely. Yes, I feel like an idiot. It's times like this when I wish I could delete my own comments."

So, you still had a problem with what he said?

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VP81955 said...

Probably the same guy that told Decca Records to turn down the Beatles because "guitar music is on the way out"

Or the Warners exec who rejected Clark Gable because his ears were too big. (OK, at Warners Clark and James Cagney might have battled for the same roles, but Gable would have found his niche at that studio, just as he eventually did at MGM.)

Lorimartian said...

Reminds me of this written exchange between the VP of Development and the President of Television at a major independent production company on which the lowly Program Executive was copied: VP sends series presentation to President. President writes back: "Where do the stories come from?" (meaning organically out of the situation, a favorite response from the suits which they think makes them look smart but just the opposite). VP writes back: "Somebody makes them up".

Robert Pierce said...

I'm almost positive this guy is now in charge of NBC's programming.

Anonymous said...

Is it worth noting here that emails DID exist by 1974?