Sunday, October 21, 2012

What's a "Bono?"

In between the time Sonny Bono wore fur vests and became a US Congressman he owned an Italian restaurant on Melrose Ave. in LA named “Bono’s.” He picked a bad location. Within months it went belly up. Since then, every time I drive by that place it’s something else – Japanese, Indian, American diner, etc.

When we’re in production on a show it seems that every week there is that one nagging joke that doesn’t work. It’s replaced on Tuesday. That joke doesn’t work. Wednesday, same story. On and on throughout the week.

That joke is called a “Bono”. And like I said, there’s ALWAYS one (at least one). The term was coined by Denise Moss, a fabulous writer on MURPHY BROWN.

What it teaches you is to stick with it, never settle, try new areas. And never just go for the easy joke…which is why I’m refraining from any reference to skiing.


Robin Raven said...

I love that. So interesting. I learn more about writing for television and film from reading your blog than I did in the four years I spent as a screenwriting major. I think I'd rather be $120,000 in debt to you. (We won't go with the easy joke on why I would choose that level of debt for a screenwriting degree.)

Anonymous said...

I'll 2nd that. I learn so much about screen writing from your blog Ken. Much thanks! You certainly have enough material for a book like "Adventures in the (small) screen trade".

I have a question: In multiple posts you discussed the challenges of pitching for TV executives. I'm curious about the difference in creating & developing a new concept for for TV versus creating & developing a movie proposal. Do you feel that movie scripts are a completely different business & art form than TV scripts?
I'm a fan of Seinfeld. But one thing i've read is how unique it was, just a "show about nothing". But i really think it's just an updated version of a common television show style. Specifically, Seinfeld reminds me a lot of The Bob Newhart show. A childless couple with wacky neighbors popping in and out.
And it seems to me that Friends is just a younger Cheers.
And family sitcoms just change the characters, but not the structure.
Other than reality TV, do you think most TV shows are updated versions of a structure created in the 50s and 60s?

thank you!

Mike said...

There's only one thing more stupid than recommending a TV programme to people, sight unseen. And that's recommending a programme they can't watch because they live on the other side of the Atlantic. So here goes:
Family Guys? What Sitcoms Say About America Now.
... examines how US comedy shows can give an understanding of what Americans think about issues including race, religion, gay rights, abortion and the economy.

Details in the link.

Cory said...

It's all right.

It's all right.

The jokes move in mysterious ways.

Ken Levine said...


Thanks. I'm not only aware of that documentary but I'm in it. I'll be plugging it on my blog later today.

Brent said...

Ken, this hasn't anything to do with Sonny Bono, but what the heck.

You may not be able to answer this publicly, but now that the Mariners have announced that they will seek a permanent radio play-by-play partner for Rick Rizzs starting in 2013, is that something your schedule would allow you to consider? I know you have many irons in the fire, and to use a phrase from Jack Z, let's not kid ourselves; going full-time in Seattle means 50,000+ miles of travel over an eight month period. That's a huge time commitment for someone as busy with other things as you are.

However it works out, thanks for the time you've spent the last two years being one of the voices of the Mariners.

DBenson said...

Could the "Bono" have been the inspiration for this?:

After Diane and Frasier returned from Europe unwed, Frasier told of how she left him at the altar, and his humiliation led to "Frasier" becoming common slang for a disastrous soccer play. When somebody says it had to be a coincidence, he adds that if a player actually knocked himself out, it was a "Frasier Crane."

A little later he's growling about the affairs she had after abandoning him. Celebrities . . . artists . . . soccer players . . .

I loved how that throwaway followed the first.

Cap'n Bob said...

Sonny did a huge Bono when he joined the Scientology Organized Crime Family.

Mike Schryver said...

I second Brent's question. I'd like to know if Ken's interested in the radio position, if he's able to tell us.

If you don't continue with the M's, Ken, thanks for the enjoyment over the past couple of years.

Ken Levine said...

Brent and Mike,

If the situation were right I would consider going full-time. But please tell the Mariners that you want me back. Thanks.

Mike Barer said...

Sounds appropriate, sorta like the slang for an error in baseball.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ken,
Are there certain rules for getting questions answered? I'm not sure if my questions were just stupid, or insulting, or boring, or if you just don't answer Anonymous questions. (I posted 10/21:6.57am).

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Jill Pinnella Corso said...

Bono! Finally! There was one nagging joke in the last script I wrote and now it has a name. Any advice for finding the right joke?

chuckcd said...

He had a place in Palm Springs as well. Saw Heather Locklear in there one Spring Training.