As always, thanks for the Friday Questions. Here are a few answers and a visual aid.
Jim S. gets us started:
You mentioned that a network might demand an old pro hook up with a novice who created a show. Do you think that is wise, or is it just suits justifying their jobs? Do young guns resent that or are they grateful for the help?
It depends on the individual case. When a network picks up a show from an untested showrunner they’re really rolling the dice. Remember, a lot of money is on the line. If a show implodes millions of dollars are lost.
So why do networks do it? The advantage of a somewhat novice is that he brings the potential of a fresh new voice. And you occasionally strike gold. Larry David is the supreme example.
The “old pros” by comparison, will often bring recycled ideas and methods to the dance.
When the two collaborate there usually are problems. Not always, but more often than not. The young creator can feel that the pro is taking over his show. The pro can feel threatened by the young creator, or resent having to be in this position. Once upon a time the pro created his own shows. Now he’s babysitting some wunderkind.
And of course the sensibilities could clash.
But in the best case scenario, the pro provides stability and experience that allows that young writer to follow his vision. I’ll give you an example of it working:
Marty Fufkin asks a somewhat loaded question:
If you have an actress on your show who wants to get a nose job or other cosmetic procedures, would you advise against it or just let her do as she wishes?
Do that only if you have a death wish. Mere wardrobe or hair suggestions can cause World War III.
In truth, rarely will an actress make any drastic cosmetic changes during the course of a series. Although an actress on one show underwent breast reduction surgery during one off-season. And in her case, let’s just say those breasts were her major asset. No, I won’t tell you who it was. She had good reason to do it, was experiencing bad back pain, etc., but I think it’s fair to say that I and everyone else missed them.
Personally, I don't recommend having that conversation with an actor. That said, I would give anything to see a producer tell Teri Hatcher she should consider a little facial touch-up.
I am assuming that every writer wants every episode they write to be as great as it can be. However, when the network wants a special episode to promote, such as a 100th episode to be even better, how do you handle it (outside of the clip show)?
Do you try to save the best jokes for that episode?
Do you try to end a story arc on that episode?
Do you just ignore the network and make every episode as great as it can be?
First off, we never save jokes. We try to find the best jokes we can for every episode. And I won’t even save my “best jokes” for my episodes. When I’m rewriting someone else’s script, even though I won’t get writing credit, I still push myself to write the best jokes I can.
Generally, for a “special” episode, there will be some big event in the series (like a wedding) or stunt casting.
David and I wrote the 100th episode of BECKER and we slipped in “100” in the show as many ways as we could. It was our way of making note of the occasion without making it a big deal. Here's the episode. I also directed it. See what you think.