Time for Friday Questions. Will try to add an extra day or two of these in the next few weeks to get caught up a little. But please, continue to submit yours in the comments section.
How much longer can I keep using my 30 Rock spec?
Three more hours.
You’d be smart to write a spec for a more up-and-coming show. My guess is MODERN FAMILY and BIG BANG THEORY are the two most popular specs these days. But write the show you feel will showcase your strengths the best… whether it’s THE NEW GIRL or GIRLS.
However, a word of caution – I would advise against writing an episode of LOUIE. It’s a trap. That show is so specific to the rhythms and vision of Louis C.K. that you can only come up short. I bet if you read the actual LOUIE scripts you wouldn’t know it’s a comedy. The execution has to be so precise – which it is – that only Louis C.K. can see it realized.
I might also abandoned any spec ALMOST PERFECTS that you have.
Here’s a question from another John -- John Leader Alfenito:
Sometimes, especially on procedural, the casting tips the plot for me. A familiar character actor, introduced early along with some other cast members, invariably turns out to be the bad guy. And, if you've seen the actor before in other things, you know immediately - he's the villain. Got to be. He's too "experienced" not to be.
I'm not trying to hurt the chances of these fine second-tier actors getting future gigs, but, short of casting complete newcomers in every antagonist role, how can you get around this?
I think you're right, John. Whenever you recognize a name in the guest cast of a procedural you can almost bet he's the killer. These former stars of their own series are not going to want to do THE MENTALIST just to be a red herring. You see Sharon Lawrence, bet the farm there’s blood on her hands.
The way around this is to have several actors of equal value and give them all good parts to play. MURDER, SHE WROTE was good at doing that.
The other option, as you mentioned, is to not use name actors, but good luck getting that one by the network.
I guess if you’re an actor you know you’ve made it if the NCIS team hauls you off at the end.
Steve Murray wonders:
When in a writing partnership, how did you deal with telling your partner that their idea was the worst thing you had heard? I'm dealing with this right now!
I’m trying to think of what David used to say to me.
Seriously, you just have to be honest. It helps if you have reasons for why you think the idea sucks so bad, or you have an alternative. But in our partnership it’s always understood that if one partner isn’t on board and can’t be quickly turned, we throw out the idea or joke or whatever it is and come up with something else. It’s easier to dream up something new then have one partner unhappy and resentful after a long argument. Those build up to where there’s a fistfight over a scripts for THE NEW MOUSEKETEERS (yes, that actually happened).
And finally, a Friday Question about Friday shows from Mr. Ace:
What is your opinion on the old TGIF sitcoms?
But I remember one network note session after a runthrough. They had a million tiny concerns and this resulted in an endless discussion. As the director I didn’t have to personally address these notes. I just sat on the sidelines and observed. But I thought to myself, “Wow. Here are all these highly educated people – degrees from Stanford and Ivy League schools – arguing over whether the little boy should drink his milk before he leaves for school. This is a TGIF show. The audience is eleven year olds. Who gives a fuck whether the kid finishes his milk? We didn’t discuss the Sam & Diane relationship this much on CHEERS.”
But there’s certainly a place for this type of programming to “tweens.” Back then it was TGIF. Now there are entire channels devoted to it. And by the way, there are some good jokes along the way on a few of those DISNEY CHANNEL sitcoms.