Friday Question Day and a happy birthday to my writing partner, Professor David Isaacs:
To start it off, we have Janice:
When watching Wings I'll sometimes notice Tony Shalhoub trying not to laugh - which makes me laugh even more. As a director, would you generally reshoot the scene or leave the genuine "fun" intact? I know these make for some of the most beloved scenes in The Carol Burnett Show, but that was live and the option to reshoot wasn't available.
As opposed to sketch shows, you don’t want to break the 4th wall and destroy the reality of the scene. So if an actor laughs as opposed to the “character” laughing, then yes, I’d reshoot it.
But there was a FRASIER episode I directed involving two characters with big noses and everyone trying not to laugh. I told the cameramen that if they’re on an actor who is about to break up, stay with him, even if it means not getting to your next mark. I’ll pick it up later. But I wanted some real genuine moments captured. And it paid dividends. There are priceless shots of David Hyde Pierce, Jane Leeves, and John Mahoney.
For the record, THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW was not shown live. They taped it twice for two different audiences. The first taping they stuck to the script, the second they had more leeway. Producers then selected the funniest performances. But by using the looser “off book” takes the show did have a very “live” feeling to it.
What happened to Friday and Saturday night TV? Some of TV's biggest shows ever used to be on those nights (Dallas, All in The Family, Mary Tyler Moore, Carol Burnett etc) but they are a wasteland today. Are the networks creating a self-fulfilling prophecy by not programming stronger lineups on those nights (with little competition from rival networks)?
Young people go out on Friday and Saturday nights and young people are all the networks care about.
And if 18-34's do stay home on a Friday and Saturday night, chances are they’ll watch a rented movie.
Also, in those halcyon days of ALL IN THE FAMILY/CAROL BURNETT SHOW hardly anybody had a video recording device. So you purposely stayed home to see those shows. Now you set your DVR and go.
Networks still throw some new shows on on Friday, but not many. And they usually go there to die. So think about it. At one time the networks programmed three or more hours a night for seven nights. Now they program three hours a night for essentially five-and-a-half nights. Fewer time slots. You think they’d have better programs, wouldn’t you? Only the cream of the crop would get on the schedule. And yet ARE YOU THERE, CHELSEA made it onto NBC
I recently saw the Cheers episode where the Carla attacks the obnoxious Yankees fan (note: the episode is “the Tortelli Tort”) and it got me to thinking about the role the Red Sox played in the tone of the series. At the time of Cheers, the Red Sox hadn't won a World Series in many, many years. They had the reputation of being losers, yet Boston fans (myself included) loved them anyway, not unlike the gang at Cheers.
So my question is this: if the show had gone on the air after the 2004 Sox win, do you think it would have changed the tone at all? The gang did spend a good amount of time in those early seasons commiserating about the Sox, even if it wasn't related to the main plot of the show.
Absolutely. We'd give them a completely different outlook. They’d take more pride in being Red Sox fans once they won a World Series, but they wouldn’t identify with them as much because they were no longer losers.
That said, Carla would bang a Yankee fan’s head into the bar regardless of the standings.
Cheryl Marks wonders:
Who makes the call as to which scenes are deleted when movies are edited to fit a particular time slot? The original editor and director?
How about TV shows? As a kid, I remember at least one I Love Lucy episode that now airs without a short scene that appeared between two commercial breaks.
I'm assuming the writer doesn't have a say.
Answering your last question first. The writer does have say if he’s also the showrunner. For television series the showrunner has final cut. The director is given the courtesy to suggest changes but ultimately it’s the showrunner who makes the call.
Now, who edits movies for TV? I assume you mean theatrical features. I don’t think there’s any single answer here. Probably someone at the network edits the films for time. But I have heard of cases where the original director has gotten involved. And I suppose when a film director negotiates for final cut of the film’s release he could also negotiate for final cut of the network version.
When theatrical movies go into syndication I think great care is taken to ensure the worst possible editor cuts the film. They’re always so hacked and disjointed.
Still, when I saw VOLUNTEERS on local channel 5 it was the first time I thought they didn’t edit out enough.
UPDATE: A very high ranked network programming chief just emailed me this AMAZING answer to this editing question. Many many thanks. You never know who reads this crazy blog.
I read your Friday question... I've bought a lot of movies for TV. The studio always produces the cut for the network, and sometimes they have to get the director's approval. They create a lot of versions of a movie... The USA cut will differ from the TNT cut... From the syndication cut... And the international cut. I don't know if every director has a right to review every cut, but I do know some directors do and it can be an issue getting their blessing prior to delivery, because the director (think Spielberg, Scorsese, and the like) want to see every change to their movie, no matter how minor. Sometimes it is just the TNT format is :45 seconds shorter than the FX format, for example, which isn't a big deal in a 2.5 hour movie. By the way, most movies today are longer, so most of them fit in a 2.5 hour movie window on basic cable.
And finally, from Sebastian Peitsch :
Why don't couples in comedy shows stay together?
Because living happily ever after is comedy death. Comedy comes out of conflict. Sam and Diane holding hands is not nearly as interesting or funny as Sam and Diane holding these...
What’s your question? Leave it the comments section. Thanks!