Warming you up with Friday Questions….
Michael Stoffel asks:
Would you prefer to completely wrap a season before it even starts airing ala the upcoming season of COMMUNITY. Or have the flexibility to change course after public input, like THE GOOD WIFE did this season when they had to dump Kalinda's husband because the storyline was so detested.
I would prefer the flexibility of receiving viewer feedback, especially if I were doing a single-camera show. If you’re doing a multi-cam show you have studio audiences to tell you whether things are working or whether a certain character is really start to break out.
And yes, it’s tough when you have the whole season in the can, they start airing, and there’s a character or story arc (a la Kalinda’s husband on THE GOOD WIFE) that the audience clearly doesn’t like and you have ten more shows that go down that road. It’s a bitch to make mid-course corrections but it’s nice to have that option.
On the other hand, sometimes it’s a God send to produce your show in a vacuum. Everything is fine, everybody loves everybody – and then the show premieres – the reviews and ratings come in. And suddenly it’s a mutiny. You long for the days of blissful ignorance.
From Pete Grossman:
How are full length scripts presented today? Are they still submitted on paper? Printed on both sides of the paper to be environmentally friendly? Or, have paper scripts gone the way of the dodo - submitted electronically and being read on computer screens, tablets, etc,? Then if liked, printed out and delivered to clients, talent, etc? Thanks!
A lot of scripts are now submitted electronically. PDF files. When scripts are delivered to a network (either the pilot of episodes) there are numerous departments that receive them. In the past, a messenger would drop off a package of twelve or twenty scripts. I don’t know if that’s still the policy or if the scripts are just emailed.
Agencies do still have printed copies of scripts. There are still actors, producers, directors, etc. who prefer printed copies. If I have to give notes I prefer printed scripts, although there are programs that allow you to electronically make notes on files. But that’s way too technical for this nimrod.
And of course, when a script is in production then everybody works off printed copies.
Justin Hyde chimes in:
Saw an old clip of Kirstie Alley hosting SNL with the rest of the "Cheers" crew popping up in the monologue, and it made me wonder: How much writing work do show writers do for their stars when they go on talk shows or other off-duty appearances?
I remember a story about Desi Arnaz. He was Lucy’s husband on I LOVE LUCY (and also in real life). He also produced the show. One Saturday morning he called one of the show's writing teams – Bob Schiller & Bob Weiskopf – and said he had just accepted a last minute invitation to speak at a roast. Could they come over and give him some material? They spent the afternoon crafting a monologue. Desi thanked them profusely.
The next morning the two writers woke up to find brand new Cadillacs sitting in their driveways. And you wonder why writers loved working for Desi Arnaz.
And finally, from Andrew:
Just caught your "The Show Where Lilith Comes Back" Frasier episode on Netflix. I thought the writing was even stronger than on the Emmy winning pilot, "The Good Son". Did you think while sitting at that Emmys that you had a shot at winning?
No. The best we had hoped for was maybe a tie. Pilots almost always win and that’s fair. There is so much more involved in writing a great pilot – the story, setting up the premise, introducing the characters, establishing the tone and style. Casey, Lee, and Angell deserved winning that Emmy. This was one case where I truly was thrilled just to be nominated.
What's your question? Leave it in the comments section. Thanks, gracias, and mahalo.