Here are some Black Friday Questions to read on your smart phone as you stand in line at Kohl’s.
Johnny Walker has one about writing spec scripts:
I was watching an episode of MODERN FAMILY the other day, the Emmy winning "Caught in the Act". It's a very enjoyable and farcical episode, but I was struck by how simplistic the plot was. In particular, the initial misunderstanding was not particularly original (Gloria accidentally sends a rude email to Clare), but the execution was excellent. This got me wondering about Spec scripts that wannabe writers might put together. Could someone get away with such an obvious plot choice, provided their execution is superb, or is a script you've spent months crafting expected to be brilliant across the board?
Yes. In a spec script execution is the key. Can you write the characters? Are you funny? Do your jokes advance the story? An ingenious story no one has ever done is a plus but the search for that can be a trap. Better than a complicated story is a simple one that allows you to give the characters some depth.
And by all means, I strongly recommend against doing any “special” episodes. Don’t break the format. Don’t do that “What if the Dunphys went back in time to Antiquity?” Don’t write ANCIENT FAMILY.
My Friday question to Ken is whether you've ever been in a situation where a network or someone else pushed you to revise a show you worked on to highlight a successful one-time or occasional character?
No. But as a showrunner I’m always on the lookout for a breakout character. If I happen to have the next Fonz or Urkel or Akex Keaton I won’t need the network to tell me to utilize him more. I’ll happily do it myself. Those gifts come very rarely.
The hard part though is getting the actors who thought were the stars to go along graciously, but the argument can be made that they will now be on a much bigger hit show and a high tide raises all boats. That generally works unless you’re Cybill Shepherd.
JT Anthony asks:
Would you mind taking a stab at comparing Hollywood spin on a movie and the spin political parties put on its candidates, especially this year? And especially when the reality is much different--weaker--than the perception they are trying to shape for the audience.
It seems to me that movies and political campaigns are similar in that their shared goal is: “how do we attract a specific audience without chasing away a general one?” The difference is that movie campaigns just stand on their own. A trailer portrays a movie as being a certain way, you either respond to it or you don’t. But you assume that’s what that movie is (although sometimes you are seriously misled). The trailer is not followed by two commentators explaining the studio’s strategy.
On the political front however, you’re always hearing how Romney is trying to appear more folksy to get the folksy folks vote. It sort of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it? Isn’t it saying in essence, “he’s not really like this but is only pretending to be to get supporters?” It’s as if Warner Brothers announced publicly, “We know this movie isn’t a comedy but we’re putting the two jokes of the film in the trailer to make people believe it is.”
For political candidates these days it’s like you’re playing poker and there’s someone standing behind you calling out to everyone else at the table, “Hey, he has two-pair, looking for a queen or a three!”
Austin Edwards wonders:
What do you think about the news that Disney is going to start a sequel series to "Boy Meets World"?
What is your opinion on TGIF from ABC in the 90s and the possibility of a return in the near future?
TGIF is back. It’s called the Disney Channel. And there are some good jokes on some of those sitcoms.
What’s your question? Let me know and I’ll put it on layaway until after the holidays if you’d prefer. And if you're going to Kohl's, I could use a sweater. Thanks.