You know what day it is.
First Friday Question is from DyHrdMET:
Have you ever had (or heard of) an audience boo at a scene, an actor, or more likely, a joke? Does the creative team simply re-write, or do they re-think whatever it was that went wrong?
Never heard of an actor being booed. Most writers on the stage are able to restrain themselves. But seriously folks, generally you avoid getting actors the audience might hate. Manny Ramirez will have a better chance of re-signing with the Red Sox than being hired to guest on HOT IN CLEVELAND.
Audiences won’t boo a joke per se but they will groan if a joke is terrible, and to me that’s worse. It’s usually a good idea to avoid puns or rape jokes. My position is if a joke doesn’t get a laugh, that happens; if it gets a groan that’s inexcusable because you should have known better. And yes, you would re-write and replace the offending line.
Except on ASK HARRIET. This was a short-lived sitcom on Fox in the ‘90s. I directed a couple of episodes. What a nightmare. My tenure was brief because I was constantly at odds with one of the executive producers. He constantly would insert horrible tasteless jokes and despite my pleading and the cast’s, he wouldn’t take them out. So we got any number of groans. And he just ignored them.
Fortunately, Fox didn’t. The series was quickly axed. And the shame is there were some terrific writers and actors on that show. Julie Benz, Ed Asner, and Willie Garson to name three. And they all deserved better. As did America.
Thomas Tucker asks:
Thanks for your story about Johnny Carson. For follow-up, did you ever work with Merv?
Here’s one from Mr. First Nighter:
Why do so many characters address others so formally? In real life, people are less formal, especially years into a relationship. One example that comes to find was Daphne always calling Frasier "Dr. Crane".
Well, Mr. First Nighter, in some cases people do address others formally as a sign of respect. In the case of Daphne, I feel calling Frasier Dr. Crane is appropriate.
There was a great episode of THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW where Mary just couldn’t call Mr. Grant “Lou.” Hasn't that happened to all of us at one time or another?
Recently I received a call from my old high school basketball coach. (He had read and enjoyed my book – have you ordered your copy yet????) I hadn’t spoken to him in years and yet I still called him Mr. Furlong. “John” just seemed wrong.
The best example of this involves my kids. They were in a school summer camp program. Annie was a camper (she was 14) and Matt (18) was a counselor. Campers were instructed to address the counselors formally. So she had to address her brother as “Mr. Levine.” That went over well.
What happens if an actor needs a sick day? If the actor has a minor role in the episode, do you simply just quickly rewrite his or her parts for the other characters? If possible, do you shoot around his or her scenes? Do you hire a goon somewhere to drag them out of bed and get them on stage?
You don’t need a goon. Most actors I know are troopers. If they’re sick, they’ll suck it up and be there on show night.
If they’re sick during the week of rehearsal usually you can get by without them for a day or two. I’m forever amazed at how quickly they can come in, learn 40 pages of dialogue and blocking and be ready to go in a day.
Obviously, if a main cast member is too sick to perform on show night you have to postpone. This is expensive but what are ya gonna do? There are no understudies. Tonight, playing the part of Sheldon on BIG BANG THEORY will be Oswald from the prop department. Not going to happen.
But people get sick and usually through the course of a season you have to occasionally juggle schedules, hiatus weeks, etc. to accommodate them.
Things are trickier if it’s a guest-star role or a day-player. It depends on the severity of their illness and the size and importance of the role of course, but there is the danger they’ll just be replaced. My advice to those actors: Don’t get sick.
And finally, from Win1908:
What are some of your favorite (and least favorite) ballparks you've visited around the country and is there one or two you haven't seen yet that you'd love to get to?
Favorites: Dodger Stadium, Safeco Field, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, Target Field, Petco Park, AT&T Park, Citizen’s Bank Park, Yankee Stadium, Angel Stadium, Miller Park, Camden Yards, Coors Field, Comerica Park.
Least favorites: Tropicana Field and the Oakland Coliseum.
Parks I’ve never seen but would like to: PNC Park in Pittsburgh and the goofy new stadium in Miami.
What’s your question? Leave it in the comments section. Thanks, and have a great weekend.