TGIFriday Question Day.
Long Paul starts us off:
What is the stupidest thing you’ve ever said on the air?
Wow. There’s such a long list it’s hard to narrow it down. I once interviewed the commissioner of baseball, Bud Selig and asked him about MLB’s pet charity, Stand up FOR cancer. (Should be Stand up TO cancer).
When I was broadcasting for Baltimore I interviewed Angel phenom, Wally Joyner. He was the poster boy for clean living. I wanted to end the interview by wishing him much success and instead I said, “Thanks for the visit, Wally, and I wish you much sex.”
And of course, my botched home run call. Again – Baltimore. I had just entered the big leagues and figured I needed a signature home run call. So I came up with “Ladies and gentleman, Elvis has left the building!” This worked fine for about two weeks until I jumped the gun and my call was, “Ladies and gentleman, Elvis is… off the top of the wall!”
That’s the last time I’ve had a signature home run call. And by the way, you don’t need one.
Alan Duke has a question about my post where the top 5 all-time shows were named.
Other than you and David, is there anyone else associated with 2 or more of the top 5? Probably not. You are in a very special group. Congrats Ken.
Thanks. It’s something I’m very proud of. We’re in a select group but not exclusive. Glen & Les Charles wrote an episode of MASH so they qualify. Tom Reeder also wrote for both shows. Same with Larry Balmagia and David Pollock & Elias Davis. Bob Schiller & Bob Weiskopf wrote for both I LOVE LUCY and ALL IN THE FAMILY.
Steve B. asks:
When getting script notes from execs, are there any specific types of notes that you know are always just meaningless BS?
Yes. “Could you make him/her more likeable?” Networks invariably don’t want to even remotely offend anyone. But as Larry Gelbart once said about comedy writing, “If you haven’t offended someone then you haven’t done your job.”
Rhonda Crutcher wonders:
Hey, Ken! I have a question that occurred to me yesterday while watching the wonderful campaign ad for Michigan supreme court that featured most of the cast of the West Wing.
Who owns the rights to characters, like those on the West Wing, which are completely creations of one particular writer (in this case Aaron Sorkin)? I was wondering because Sorkin apparently didn't write that campaign ad, yet characters he created are in it. Would he have to have signed off on them being used? For that matter, Sorkin left the show after 4 seasons and other writers took over. Did he have to give the rights to use those characters over to the show? Does he ever have the rights to use them again?
Usually, the studio owns the copyright on characters. But it depends on the creator and what kind of deal he was able to negotiate.
As for the actors, the studio may own the “character” but not the likeness. Remember that case a number of years ago where several “Cheers” bars began appearing in airports? Paramount sanctioned them, but life-size figures of Norm & Cliff were featured sitting on bar stools. George Wendt and John Ratzenberger sued and won to get those ornaments removed. I’m not a lawyer (nor do I play one on TV) so I don’t know what the line is between when a studio can show photos of the actor in character and when they’re required to get their permission and pay them. Maybe that’s what held up production of those AfterMASH action figures.
What’s your question? Please leave it in the comments section. Thanks.